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JASON RANTZ

Rantz: School board defends segregated meeting, says ‘marginalized’ are uncomfortable around whites

Feb 13, 2022, 8:44 AM | Updated: Feb 14, 2022, 8:48 am
school board...
(Photo credit Issaquah Schools via Youtube)
(Photo credit Issaquah Schools via Youtube)

A Seattle-area school board is defending its decision to offer racially segregated meetings to help select a new superintendent. The board president claims non-white parents feel more comfortable “surrounded by other people similar to them.” The defense is condescending and racist.

The Issaquah School Board is holding several meetings with parents as they pick a superintendent to replace the retiring Ron Thiele. One of the meetings, however, was meant for white parents to self-select out of attendance. It was labeled “Meeting for Parents/Guardians of Color and Parents/Guardians with Students of Color.”

As parents showed up to testify at last Thursday’s school board meeting, board president Anne Moore defended the decision to hold a separate — but presumably equal — meeting.

Moore claimed that some “historically marginalized families” in Issaquah feel “uncomfortable” in meetings. To mitigate their supposed discomfort, she said a meeting “surrounded by other people similar to them, makes it easier.” Yet she also claims it isn’t an example of racial segregation, a claim that conflicts with the very reason she gives for holding a meeting for “parents of color.”

‘Shame on all of you’

Parents and community members were not pleased with the racially segregated meeting. One after the other, they took the podium or spoke remotely to express their outrage.

“By holding a separate meeting for people of color, it is the same as saying people of color are not welcome to attend the other meetings,” a former board candidate testified at the public comment portion of the meeting. “So we have created a separate one just for them. We are an integrated community, all wanting the same thing — to hire the person best qualified for the job as superintendent. The one who will care about raising up all of our students. Why are you trying to divide and separate us by color? Really? Is this the example you want to set for our students? Shame on all of you.”

“It is discrimination to say that there is a specific meeting for people of color,” one parent said. “Or you could have used something else. I believe ‘people of color’ is the politically correct term to use. But to use that is … poor and discriminatory.”

Another parent called the segregate meeting idea “just absurd, offensive, and probably illegal.”

“If you’re wondering how to structure these meetings so that you’re inclusive: First and last, consult the Civil Rights Act, that will prevent … this problem that’s going on,” he continued.

School board digs in to defend racial segregation

Despite the criticism, the board wasn’t retreating. In fact, board president Moore defended and justified the racially segregated meeting.

First, she apologized to anyone who thought a meeting labeled, “Meeting for Parents/Guardians of Color,” was “an indication of segregation.” It was merely the board’s attempt to keep “historically marginalized families” from feeling uncomfortable around white people.

“It was really an intent from the board to be able to hear from our historically marginalized families,” Moore declared. “We wanted to be able to have an environment where they could share freely and honestly and feel vulnerable. And so we’ve heard from those families before, and we understand that sometimes the environment isn’t comfortable. So having them surrounded by other people similar to them, makes it easier.”

Moore did not indicate why “marginalized families,” in a city where the median home price is $1,187,495, would feel uncomfortable around white people. The school district itself is near evenly split with white students (49.6%) and non-white students (50.4%).

The implication is that white families in Issaquah are predominantly racist or that these “marginalized families” fear white people.

“So our intent was to create a more welcoming environment and to be more inclusive versus to exclude anyone,” Moore concluded. “We did change our language on the wording [of the meeting notice]. We listened to some people that have given us feedback. All of the meetings are open to any families to attend. And we invite you to either attend one or more of the focus group meetings or fill out the survey. But our intent is to be expansive and inclusive.”

They changed their language. They made it worse.

The board did, indeed, change the language of the meeting. It made it worse.

The meeting is still intended to be for “parents of color.” The new language isn’t more inclusive; it merely defends their decision to hold meetings for people on the basis of skin color, leaning into a message that seems intended to guilt white families into self-selecting out. It now reads:

The first of the four meetings will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15. As a School Board we understand that historically marginalized families may not share honestly or vulnerably about their experiences in our district if they are not surrounded by people that look like them or have a similar lived experience. In this meeting we hope to ensure all families have the space to connect, feel supported, and share authentically. Parents of all races are welcome to attend this meeting that intends to create a safe space for parents and guardians of color and parents and guardians with students of color who racially identify with historically marginalized races.

The meeting notice makes little sense, which happens when you try to weave in equity talking points you learned about from an Ibrim X. Kendi or Dr. Robin DiAngelo book.

If you’re hosting a meeting for “historically marginalized families” because they feel uncomfortable speaking openly about their experiences in front of white people, then why would the meeting be open to white parents? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

The language is almost certainly added to avoid being sued for racial discrimination. White parents cannot be shut out of a public meeting by the school board on the basis of their race. The board, thus, plays word games to make it seem like their intent is not to push white parents out of the meeting.

2022 lessons: Racial segregation is immoral

It’s hard to believe that in 2022 we have to say that racial segregation is immoral. But thanks to progressive activists that are trained to see nothing but race, apparently we have to remind people that this practice is racist.

The societal standard used to be that we should not judge anyone by their skin color. Instead, we should focus on their character: who they are as people. But now our schools have been infected with critical race theory, which views every institution as systemically racist. All white people are oppressors, and all racial minorities, particularly Black Americans, are oppressed.

Don’t look at the Black family as your neighbors and friends; look at them as victims of systemic racism in a world that sees them as “others,” we’re told. Ironically, it’s mostly-white progressives and opportunistic race-baiters treating them as “others.”

I’m not sure what’s more disturbing here: that the school board unapologetically justifies racial segregation, or that kids will see this and think it’s right. And if this is happening at a public school board meeting, what do you think is happening in a private classroom setting?

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: School board defends segregated meeting, says ‘marginalized’ are uncomfortable around whites