Teachers Dress Up as Mexicans and Trump's Wall, Face Backlash
School board says the teachers exercised poor judgement during a team building exercise; suspended them with pay.
For Halloween, several teachers at Middleton Elementary School in Canyon County, Idaho, wore red, white and blue, and stood behind a fake brick wall with "Make America Great Again" written on it. Meanwhile, another group wore sombreros, mustaches, and held maracas. Initially posted on the school's Facebook page, outrage among parents forced the post to be removed.
"Hispanic parents, a lot of them and especially non-English speaking parents already feel intimidated going into the school," Juan J. Saldaña from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs said. "And how does that make students feel? They get it from students, and now they're getting it from teachers, too."
Nampa resident Estefania Mondragon, a member of PODER (Protecting our Dreams and Empowering Resilience) of Idaho, recalled her days as a student in Canyon County where she was told not to speak Spanish in class.
"I thought that era of discrimination had passed," Mondragon told the Idaho Press. "I can't imagine being a student right now and realizing those are elementary school teachers, I am just sickened."
Mondragon created a petition called "No Racism in Middleton School District," demanding the district create environments that "provide awareness and consciousness of systemic racism through culturally relevant curriculum, policy change, review of hiring practices, and district wide training."
Over 10,000 people have signed.
Mondragaon called out in the petition the "dehumanization of Latinx children and the outrageous harm caused by trusted adults that they learn from and look up to."
Middleton's population of 7,500 is 9.5 percent Hispanic, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau data. The percentage in the district schools averages about 12.5 percent per school.
Parents with pre-school kids talked about leaving the Middleton school district.
Superintendent Dr. Josh Middleton apologized for the "insensitive actions" and said, "Again, we are better than this."
At an emergency weekend board meeting, some community members said they didn't want the teachers to lose their jobs, and the board chairman, Tim Winkle, said the costumes were part of a team-building exercise during after school hours. The board decided to place the 14 teachers on leave with pay.
The statement from the board said they're taking the situation seriously and that, "This is an unfortunate incident of very poor judgement."
A petition to keep the teachers has over 12,000 signatures, saying the incident has been "blown out of proportion."
The district is planning a cultural awareness and sensitivity training for the entire district on Nov. 7, and increasing the presence of crisis team members and police to provide support. Middleton said training will continue throughout the year and in the future. It's not a "one and done" process.
Rachel Park, mother of a 14-year-old student Shiva Rajbhandari, said, "If they are truly sorry, we need to see a significant change and not just with the teachers… I am shocked that there are people that believe that this would be OK."
Rajbhandari, son of an immigrant dad, who went to Saturday's meeting, said the teachers' actions, "Alienated Latino students. The way that they portrayed their culture made a very political statement, seven days ahead of an election. It was ignorant and there needs to be disciplinary action."
He said they can't let it slide because it affects thousands.
Reader Question: When you have "poor judgement" touted as reasoning, what do you think the school district should do? The parents?
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"Black people have always been underestimated. The Black college experience is still an exceptional way to train young people," said Senator Art Haywood, a Morehouse Graduate.
What Kamala Harris, Alma Adams, Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams all have in common, in addition to being influential in U.S. politics, is they're graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities ( HBCUs) — Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, and Spelman College.
Approximately 40 percent of the members of Congress are HBCU graduates, according to the Network Journal, a Black professional and small business magazine. And recipients of The United Negro College Fund and Thurgood Marshall Foundation scholarships graduate from college at rates well above the national average.
"We're producing outstanding leaders in all of the major professions," said Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and former Delaware State president.
"Anytime you can look at (HBCU) success stories, it just enhances their relevancy and continues to move them forward in a positive way."
This year, a record 38 women of color were elected to Congress. Many of them are HBCU graduates.
The prospect of so many Black-college graduates being elected to statewide office in the same year is unprecedented, Keneshia Grant, an assistant professor of political science at Howard University, said.
And they are touting their HBCU training. Abrams expressed her disapproval of legislation plans for education that did not include those institutions.
As a Spelman alumna, I share the concern raised by @RepRichmond. HBCUs are vital for economic independence. https://t.co/C5DtYKPukP
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) February 16, 2016
Gillum responded to President Trump's tweet attacking him about his lack of Ivy League education:
Mr. @realDonaldTrump, I am a graduate of THE Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) — an HBCU founded on October 3, 1887. Google it. 🐍 https://t.co/I8uOokptJA
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) October 30, 2018
Art Haywood is one of four Black state senators in Pennsylvania, and one of two from Morehouse.
"If the two Black state senators had come from Harvard or Yale, then those schools would get all the credit," Haywood said.
"Black people have always been underestimated," Haywood said. "I don't think there's any more validation required. The Black college experience is still an exceptional way to train young people."
Of politicians like Abrams and Gillum, the president of HBCU Dillard University Walter Kimbrough said they are sending a message: "It's a reaffirmation, not only for students but for families, that you can go to an HBCU and compete with anyone."
Approximately 13 percent of HBCU graduates are CEOS, 40 percent are engineers and 50 percent are professors at non-HBCUs, according to the Network Journal.
The HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities study shows how the United States economy benefits from HBCUs: $14.8 billion in economic impact. In addition, graduates predominantly come from low-income areas, giving them and the communities the opportunity to break cycles of poverty and open doors to successful and lucrative careers. Individual graduates can earn $927,000 within their lifetime, $130 billion collectively over their lifetime.
Identity Evropa leader, whose group believes in returning people of color back to native homelands, posts tour photos. Meanwhile, Trump calls Black reporter's white nationalism question "racist."
Patrick Casey, leader of alt-right white nationalist group, Identity Evropa, and Charlottesville marcher, posted a visit to the White House on social media this week:
Evropa has landed at the White House! pic.twitter.com/nlExBhNP4V
— Patrick Casey (@PatrickCaseyIE) November 7, 2018
"And for this I'd never forgive him," Obama writes in her new memoir.
Former first lady Michelle Obama is trending on Twitter for what is revealed in her new memoir.
In public speeches, when giving her opinion on the current state of the U.S., Obama never refers to President Trump by name. But in her new 426-page book, "Becoming," she mentions her disdain for Trump.
For her actions, Wendy Bies spent the night behind bars.
Wendy Bies, a 53-year-old white woman, walked into the Gallatin County Courthouse looking for a ballot; she walked out of the courthouse with a criminal record.
How did this trade happen? She saw Brian Mango waiting in line to vote in the Montana's battleground U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns on Tuesday, and told the 22-year-old, "Go back where you came from."
"Do you know why mom is here? Because Americans bombed her country," Mango said of his mother, a refugee from Laos.
"Do you know why my dad's here? Because they brought his ancestors here in chains," he said of his father, who is Black.
Bies replied with ridicule, "They wanted to come to America to get out of that f*cking a**-hole city. So don't you tell me this is not where you want to be."
Realizing that she may have started something she could not get out of, Bies bellowed, "You are not going to stop me from voting. We need a civil order to separate us."
Mango said Bies began making racial comments after she told him he had a "cute butt."
Footage was captured by Tennison Big Day, a Native American, who was behind the two of them in line. Big Day told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle he heard Bies claim that it was President Trump who gave Mango his voting rights.
Bies spent the rest of election night in Gallatin County jail after being arrested on charges of obstructing a police officer and disorderly conduct. She pleaded not guilty and remained jailed on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon.
See the video:
Election Day arrest at Gallatin County Courthouse youtu.be
Interns have spoken: Abbott is the top college internship program for healthcare and tech & engineering.
These threats of violence follow numerous attacks on Abrams and her campaign.
The midterm elections have been rifled with racist rhetoric against Black gubernatorial candidates like Florida's Andrew Gillum and Georgia's Stacey Abrams. But the rhetoric hit a head with the pledge of violence if Abrams wins the election in Georgia.
The Children's Place may not be so welcoming if you're Black or Brown.
Miriam and Carlita Alejandro, Latinx sisters, shopping at The Children's Place in Camp Hill, Pa., got harassed by a nosey store clerk when they ask to price match clothes. A sales associate said the women were angry because they're on welfare.
Miriam said she was there to help a family who had lost everything in a fire by purchasing clothes for a child. Ms. Rhonda, the store clerk who was helping the ladies, said they may have to wait for the price check because the store was busy.
Miriam wrote on her Facebook page that she responded to Ms. Rhonda: "'Lancaster never gives us any issues or said such a thing, but okay.' Then Price Match Patty aka Genie who was never in our conversation started getting smart saying that we (my sister & I) 'were mad because we were on welfare.'"
Ms. Rhonda didn't know what to do when the Alejandro sisters reported what the nosey store employee said, but she attempted to chastise her. Miriam started recording to document the experience they had.
Price Match Patty has been fired, according to a company statement provided on Monday. Carlita Alejandro posted on Facebook that the company called and offered gift cards and reward points to continue spending her money at the retailer.
Because that's the way to handle your company's screw up-- buy off the people your employees have offended?
Alejandro wrote, "I will NEVER feel safe nor welcomed shopping their stores again!!"
The Children's Place has a history of discrimination. In 2000, they lost a lawsuit concerning profiling customers and had to provide anti-discrimination training in all stores in Massachusetts and hire a consultant to look at their policies.
Unrelated to the incident, two executives left the company this week (Pamela Wallack and Anurup Pruthi), "to pursue other opportunities" — the only minority and the only female in the C-Suite (other than the female CEO). The Children's Place Inc. has never participated in DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity competition.
CEO and president Jane Elfers said, "As we approach the last phase of our major systems implementations, the opportunity exists for significant efficiencies across the organization, and today we are announcing a more streamlined senior leadership structure."
Price Match Patty has not been fully identified yet, but some commenters on social media say she's married to a Black man, like Key Fob Kelly in St. Louis. That wouldn't excuse her behavior anyway.
Others say they have been profiled at that same store by Price Match Patty and others before:
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Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.
Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.
The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.
The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.
"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.
Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.
The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:
"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."
When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."
"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."
In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.
Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."
Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.
"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.