The following letter was submitted by Ariel Ryan who announced a panel discussion with teachers and students set for July 21 at City Park in Brentwood after the lack of response by the city of Brentwood, surrounding cities and the school districts.
In response to the lack of acknowledgement and action by the school districts in the City of
Brentwood (and surrounding cities), the community is invited to Brentwood City Park on
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 to have an open discussion with teachers and students on racism in our community and schools.
Social distancing will be required, as we aim to hold a discussion panel that prompts serious
reflection and seek change. There is an undeniable presence of division that must be addressed beginning with consistent means of dialogue and followed by a clear implementation of change.
To what extent said change is carried out is up for the bargaining, but the denial of the hardships of any resident in this community based on the racism carried out in this town will no longer be acceptable. Silence will no longer be tolerated as we will begin to advocate for those who continue to be victims of systematic racism. It is time for all of us to start caring about all of us.
Through the testimonies of members of the community and students (past and present), there appears to be deep-rooted problems in our educational system that continues to be enabled by the Superintendents and School Boards in place. For decades, race related issues have been arising in our schools, and little has been done to an effort to create change. Students’ lives are being negatively affected and that responsibility to create change falls on all of us.
At this present time, it is blatantly clear that the way in which the Liberty Union School District and Brentwood Union Elementary School District’s educational system depicts diversity and history is done in a way so clandestine that the general population is almost unaware to its negative implications. Man-made ignorance generated by providing educators, parents and students with the incorrect tools to combat racism and miseducation in the classroom is an issue
How we are having our students learn this year is just as important as what they are learning. Consequently, I ask the community to ask themselves the following questions:
- Do I approach conversations of race from a place of empathy and understanding or a place of defense and dismissiveness?
- How has my proximity to whiteness affected the way that I prioritize talking about racial
- How do I support Black, Indigenous, and POC voices in my community to have their stories and experiences heard? Does it matter?
- What books and stories do I read and discuss that assist me in understanding other races/ethnicities? Are they written by scholars, professionals and those who have lived
through those experiences?
Most importantly, I ask Dana Eaton, Eric Volta, Mayor Bob Taylor and any individual interested and/or considering a seat on any board or council in our community to take a moment and think about the questions and how they would respond if asked in a public setting.
Finally, I am cognizant of the fact that school districts are focused on the impact of COVID-19 and the impacts it is having on schools and its students. I understand the hard work that is being done for students and working tirelessly to adhere to the new “state of normal”. However, we are also in a time of heightened racial tensity, and its absolutely critical to consider how the most current modern events and discussions are having an effect on our community.
Sadly, it has been well over 30 days since the first peaceful protest that touched in the City of
Brentwood. Since then, communities across the country have been addressing race, anti-racism and inequality in institutions and households everywhere. But Brentwood and surrounding areas has done little, if anything, to address racism. We need some type of movement. We need a change.
I am disappointed in the lack of efforts by our community leaders and the school’s districts for the lack of urgency to address this issue in an open and transparent way. My hope is these panel discussions with teachers and students can be the start of change as the community becomes more aware of what is actually happening within our community and schools.
If You Go:
Brentwood City Park
July 21, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Social Distancing will be required (a lawn chair is suggested)