Williamson County parent group One WillCo has been organizing and speaking out in favor of diversity and inclusion in schools. Now, the group is out with a public statement in response to national group “Moms for Liberty” and their campaign against so-called “Critical Race Theory.”
Here’s the statement from One WillCo:
|Ahead of one of the nationally-coordinated “Moms for Liberty” misinformation events being held locally and advertised as “Critical Race Theory 101,” local group One Willco releases the following statement:
|“All our students have the right to have a safe learning environment. Children in our community have been told to ‘go back to Mexico,’ have been called the ‘n-word,’ and parents continuously share stories with us that their children have heard even worse in their school. These lived experiences here in Williamson County cannot be described as a safe educational environment by anyone. When groups try to divide us by labeling any conversation about race or racism as ‘Critical Race Theory,’ they silence our lived experiences of racism and the history of discrimination that affects our lives today. When a group is opposed to having hard conversations on topics like diversity and equity, and have no proposed action to protect children like mine from being recipients of harassment based on the color of their skin, we cannot solve the problem. We must stop sticking our heads in the sand or using false labels, and instead work together to combat racism in our schools so that we can all come together as a community for our shared prosperity.” – Revida Rahman, co-founder of One WillCoParents in the Community share their stories:
“We can all agree that students should be judged based on their character and not on the color of their skin,” said Tizgel High, mother of three children in WCS. “But, unfortunately, in our society, and here in Williamson County we haven’t arrived there yet. During this school year my second grade child brought home an assignment that linked a picture of a black child to the term “scarcity”. When I raised my concern that a black child would be the pictorial representation of a negative adjective, the school administrator responded that in other parts of the world things are scarce. Of course this school administrator is a very good person trying to do the best for students and was embarrassed when I brought it up. But this shows that he was not equipped to check his bias and how it may be influencing how children were being taught, or that his bias indicated stereotypes that he held and had nothing to do with the picture that was presented, or the lesson being taught until I pointed it out to him. I have heard voices say that noticing and pointing out instances of racism is indoctrinating our children, but I would argue that teaching kids that the color of their skin is linked to being foreign and scarce sounds more like indoctrination than learning and teaching about an honest view of history.”“I know we all believe in prioritizing the safety, well-being, education, and development of our children – all of our children — here in Williamson County,” said Dr. Aima Ahonkhai-Nottidge, mother of two children at Edmondson Elementary and Assistant Professor of Medicine at a local hospital. “And I am grateful for a national climate which is more open to having honest discussions about race and racism in America, with the goal of equality for all. Nonetheless, I am utterly exhausted by those who constantly try to ignore or minimize our stories and misrepresent the scope and premise of “Critical Race Theory,” thereby shutting off any productive conversation and progress. Yet, I will continue to advocate for my children, and all the children of Williamson County, not only as my duty as a parent, but also so that we can move forward toward equality as a community.”
UPDATED with statements from Southern Christian Coalition and Williamson Social Justice Alliance and Together Nolensville.
Southern Christian Coalition:
“A major role of the church is to be the conscience of the community,” said Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs, Pastor of Franklin Community Church in Williamson County. “Denying systemic racism in our country is denying history, and putting all conversation about race and the history of racism in America as “critical race theory” is just a strategy to silence and stop important conversations that lead to true unity. From the genocide of First Nations people, to the enslavement of Africans, to the forced encampments of our Asian neighbors and to our mistreatment of people on our southern border, systemic racism was, and is, a major part of our history in America. The only way forward is acknowledgement, confession, and repentance that leads to actions, just like in our personal relationships with Jesus. One of those actions we must take as a country is teaching our children our sins and mistakes so that they do not repeat them. The sin of racism needs to be taught in our schools in order to bring us to a path of healing and equality as a country.”
“As a United Methodist pastor and father to two children in the Williamson County School System, I hope that my children’s teachers are able to instruct them about our nation’s history with both critical and constructive lenses,” said Rev Brandon Baxter, Associate Pastor of West End United Methodist Church in Nashville. “It is a simple fact that throughout our history the sin of racism has informed much of our culture and many of our systems, and that racism is alive and well today. The fact that a Williamson County parent referred to COVID-19 as “the China virus” at Monday night’s school board meeting is proof that we have work to do on bullying based on race. To silence teachers from exploring such basic truths does a disservice to our children. These young persons will be the ones responsible for shaping a more hopeful and equitable society for all people as they continue to perfect this union in which we live. In order to do so, they must have access to the free market of ideas, including those uncomfortable truths that challenge them to grow beyond what once has been. Nobody should fear the truth, most especially Christians, who follow the God known in Jesus Christ who said, according to the Gospel of John, when we are confronted with sin, the truth shall set us free.”
“There have been a lot of comments expressed publicly that second graders are too young to talk about racism in the classroom, but if my second grade Black son is old enough to hear the n-word said by a classmate in school and experience racism, then I think all students in second grade are old enough to learn about and discuss racism,” said Elizabeth Madeira, Williamson County mother.
Williamson Social Justice Alliance:
Williamson Social Justice Alliance would like to publicly state our support of the Williamson County School board and its positive steps to address racist incidents in WCS schools. Our statement comes in light of the recent WCS school board meeting where resistance was expressed and misinformation spread by other groups.
We stand for equality in our schools, be that in skin color, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or gender identity, and believe that everyone, regardless of personal values, wishes equal treatment and opportunity for each student in Williamson County. However, the stories of discrimination, bullying and harassment that have surfaced from our schools in recent years — see the @dearestwcs Instagram account to read a few — have made it clear that racism and other forms of bias continue to exist.
The first steps toward achieving equality and safety for our students are to acknowledge that there is an issue, gain greater perspective, and work together to find a solution. The misguided narrative surrounding “Critical Race Theory” currently being propelled by the “Moms for Liberty” group is not only harmful for our students and families of color but to our community as a whole. There is no place for divisiveness and fear when we are all working toward a common end goal — the protection and equal treatment of our children.
Together Nolensville is a group of community members who support a unified pursuit for justice, equality, & protection for the minority members within our community. Our mission is to educate & unify through resources, events, and meaningful connection.
Together Nolensville has been closely following the work of the Williamson County School Board and supports their efforts and commitment to intentionally improve the school environment for students of all races and ethnicities. Included below are statements of support from members of the Together Nolensville community.
“All children in our community deserve to feel safe, seen, and protected within Williamson County Schools,” said Kim James, mother of three children in Williamson County Schools in Nolensville. “The false assertion that there is no need for diversity training in the school system is merely an attempt to preserve the climate of ignorance and hate that my family and others have experienced and that is still a serious issue in Williamson County. In just the past month, two of my three children have experienced race-based bullying at school, and my children are only 6, 8 and 10 years old. My children have been told that ‘Black people are ugly’ and ‘N-words are stupid anyway’ – a sentiment that the child heard from his father. We have also experienced the hurtful effects of teachers’ racial biases. As parents of three beautiful Brown children we know from experience that as a community we cannot maintain the status quo and instead need to work together to ensure that all children are protected, instead of shutting down conversations designed to solve the problem of racism that still exists here in Williamson County.”
“Williamson County Schools provide a top notch education for the students in the district. That education should include preparing all students to live in a diverse country and a global society, as college and career environments will in all likelihood look very different than the bubble that is Williamson County,” shared Audrey McAdams, a mother of three children attending a Williamson County elementary school. “If history is to be taught, then all of it should be, no matter the difficult subject matter. This will foster empathy, not division. It’s a road map of what not to do and what to be aware of. I understand there are concerns of what is appropriate for elementary age children to learn about regarding desegregation and the Civil Rights era. My rebuttal is: what a privilege it must be for one to feel they have choice on when to educate their child about racism. As a mother to Black children, I don’t have that luxury.”
“The Ruby Bridges story in our second grade ELA curriculum is part of a heated discussion about the introduction of racial education into our schools. However, discussing Civil Rights history in an age appropriate way is not teaching Critical Race Theory, it is simply teaching American history,” said Emily Miller, mother of one child in a Williamson County School, and one of the founders of Together Nolensville. “Furthermore, in the events of American Civil Rights history, one does not find a simple dichotomy of white oppressors and Black victims, as some groups claim. If you look closely at any story of the American Civil Rights movement, you will see white allies working alongside African American citizens to make our country a more equitable and just place. The story of Ruby Bridges is one that shows courage and compassion from inspiring individuals across races. Judge J. Skelly Wright was the white male judge who ordered the desegregation of schools, despite great personal cost. And Ruby’s white teacher, Barbara Henry, was a steadfast support for Ruby throughout her first year of integration. Some individuals are afraid their white children will feel ashamed of their own skin color if they are taught Ruby Bridges’ story as second-graders. I wish the groups that seek to divide us would understand that currently in WCS, it is not white students who are more often being made to feel ashamed for the color of their skin. Their fear for their white students’ future discomfort is blinding them to the actual discomfort many minority students are currently experiencing in WCS. Only when we can have these honest and difficult conversations can we move forward together with true healing.”
“As a parent of a Nolensville High School rising senior, I’m speaking out against the disinformation spread by groups that seek to divide and scare us,” said Jason Mikel, local Pastor. “I’m speaking out because I want my son to know about the racial history of our country and how racism still exists today in the fabric of our culture. I want him to know about the Tulsa Massacre, the Fort Pillow Massacre, red-lining, voter intimidation, the genocide of native peoples within our borders, and the brutal truths about slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, hatred, and bigotry and how it still produces the powers of racism today. I want my son to know this so when versions of the same are encountered in his life, he will know how to stand clearly and firmly against it. Despite those who would speak otherwise, as a community, we need to speak honestly about the past so that we can move together toward understanding, mending, and reconciling as we educate our children.”
Together Nolensville, as an organization dedicated to uniting our town, is committed to supporting our school board by educating our community with non-partisan, factual information on all efforts to make our schools safer, more inclusive environments for all students.
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