The Capitol Insurrection Manifests in Schools Daily
By: Dr. George Farmer
On January 6th, 2021, the entire world watched as United States citizens stormed the Capitol in an attempt to kidnap democratic senators and inflict bodily harm in contest of an election they believe was stolen. Before January 6th, such acts of terrorism were only perpetrated by enemies of the United States. The scenes on this day were reminiscent of the American Civil War when Confederate flags symbolized those wishing to continue Black oppression.
Coincidentally, the same was true on this dark Wednesday. The misguided mantra of Make America Great Again was on full display. Overtaking the government and sending America back to the days of slavery was and still is the agenda for many Americans as we see emboldened racism. The scenes on January 6th were filled with riot gear, firearms, and waving confederate flags. On this day, it was easy to differentiate full-blown racism; however, the following day exposed an ugly truth.
The very same people clothed in riot gear, carrying firearms, and waving confederate flags were hiding in plain sight on January 7th. Realtors, construction workers, lawyers, senators, law enforcement (former and current), and even educators were amongst those who participated in the attempted coup, and this is the ugly truth America must accept.
The fact is, our very own educators, who are supposed to be the carriers of equality and justice are some of the same educators who want to keep brown and black students marginalized. The problem is that explicit bias and racist educators hide in plain sight. The manifestations can be subtle, but rest assured, detrimental.
Educators hold positions of influence and can make a student feel like the CEO of a million-dollar corporation or a person unworthy of accomplishing anything positive. There is no excuse to storm the Capitol building for any reason. Consider the school occupational therapist from Ohio that breached the Capitol and was seen at former Vice President Pence’s desk.
Her claim in participating in the attempted coup was to stop the steal of the election. The election was clear, concise, fair, and the reality is America was ready for a change in leadership, but let’s go along with the theory of the rioters.
If the election was unfair, would we teach our children the way to bring about justice is to orchestrate an unlawful take of the government, kidnap senators, and plot government officials’ death, all while waving symbols of hatred? In no way are these the actions and thoughts of anyone who should be trusted with children.
Some educators have been placed on administrative leave until the completion of investigations, as seen with one Pennsylvania teacher involved in the attack. The slow action demonstrates the lack of accountability as educators receive minimal consequences for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection while students are suspended for minor infractions.
What is even more disturbing is only a few educators were caught thus far. There is a likelihood that more educators participated in the Capitol attack. Consider the subliminal messages and actions that are being fed to children. You could hand your child over to a school employee who holds a view that seeks to extinguish your child’s educational opportunities because of their race.
These racist views were demonstrated when a group of Wisconsin teachers gave students an assignment to take the role of a slave owner and decide how to punish a disrespectful slave. One can understand why skepticism of White educators grows in the Black and Latinx community when educators like this exist.
Let me be clear, every White educator is not racist, but the events at the Capitol allow racists to hide in plain sight, and that makes it difficult to make distinctions. In the present conditions where you can scream hate one day and the next day camouflage back into the functions and offices of everyday society, we must be on guard and stand firm in protecting children.
How to Protect Our Students
- What then is the approach and obligation of educators to create anti-racist schools? Educators must be the gatekeepers in the profession and protect the children. Long gone are the days where educators can sit back and ignore the unfair unethical treatment of students. It is the duty and obligation of educators to hold other educators accountable, including administration.
- Parents, listen to your children. Take time daily to listen to your children and the experiences they have in school. If something does not sound correct, it is worth investigating. There is no harm in gaining clarity on a situation, but there is harm in failing to follow through only to find out later that you could have put a stop to harmful practices.
- Administrators carry the responsibility to ensuring the school environment is welcoming for all. Consistent professional development is necessary, but beyond professional development, proper vetting and hiring practices are necessary. With social media, there is no excuse not to be more informed about a potential prospect. Ask the difficult questions to ensure the candidate is a proper fit for your school.
Parents, your voices are more powerful than you think. Teachers, your responsibility and duty to hold peers accountable could be the difference in a child’s life. Administrators, you are the schools’ leaders, and your actions, plans, and goals create the climate in which our children, staff, and parents live. We cannot allow our students to be subjected to ideologies that seek to oppress.