Keeping retirement weird. Racist bullying? Skokie’s kids are alright.

What should be the response of administration and the police to a racist physical threat made on social media by a student at a high school campus?

Students at Niles North High School in Chicago’s suburb of Skokie decided the response was insufficient.

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Hundreds of students staged a walkout when a racist threat from one of Niles North student was circulated on Snapchat.

Students at Niles North High School in north suburban Skokie walked out of class Friday afternoon to protest what they believed was a lack of discipline for a student who posted a racist message on social media.

School officials said they are still investigating the incident; information that the student received a one-day suspension was inaccurate, they said.

Earlier Friday morning, students at the school participated in an organized walkout in the morning with the encouragement of school officials in honor of Stand Against Racism Day, a national event sponsored by the YWCA, School District 219 said in a statement.

Later in the afternoon, some students staged an additional, unannounced walkout, school officials said.

“We came together in unity to show that together, we can organize against inequity, racism and other forms of injustice,” the students said in a statement provided by District 219. “We the students have the power to elicit change. We are the future and we are committed to continue to work toward equity at Niles North.”

The second walkout of the day was related to an incident on social media earlier in the week.

School officials said a student had posted a photo of a BB gun on Snapchat with a racist comment. The school notified the Skokie Police Department, which investigated and found that the post “did not pose a direct threat to the school.”

A screenshot of the student’s Snapchat post was included in a story about the incident on patch.com. On the photo are the words: “If youre a n—– I pull the trigger”

Did not pose a direct threat to the school?

Could the authorities miss the point by a longer shot?

I was thinking about Skokie the other day. Thirty years ago it was a town with mainly Jewish residents, including members of my own family. Many of Skokie’s Jews were survivors of the Nazi Death camps, what Sean Spicer called Holcaust Centers.

In 1977 the American Nazi Party provoked the Jews of Skokie by announcing they would march through the town.

The reason I was thinking about it are the similar provocations by the Alt.Right fascists and confrontations in Berkeley, California.

The racist and homophobe Anne Coulter was scheduled to speak at Cal last week. “The best thing you can do is ignore them,” students and protesters were told.

How does ignoring racism and the racists make them go away?

I remembered that they made a made-for-TV movie about the Nazis in Skokie.

Good for the students at Niles North.

They didn’t need a lecture from adults on how to respond to racist bullying.

They are peaceful and non-violent, but they are holding the adult authorities to account.

The kids are alright.

Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about Susan B. Anthony or Frederick Douglass.

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Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony in Rochester,  New York.

Donald Trump made a reference to Susan B. Anthony at a White House thing, ending Women’s History Month.

Some in the press pointed out that there are only 4 women cabinet members in the Trump White House. That’s not the problem. The problem is Trump despises women and he and his Party are enacting stuff that will hurt women, particularly poor women and women of color.

“Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?” he asked a White House gathering of women.

What a jerk.

Did one of his people slip card with Susan B. Anthony’s name to him just before his appearance? Maybe he thinks she is still alive, like he thought Frederick Douglass is still alive?

Does he know that the radical feminist Anthony and Frederick Douglass were close friends?

Does he know that Anthony was an outspoken abolitionist?

That Susan B. Anthony collaborated with Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad?

That Anthony and Douglass are buried not far from each other in the same cemetery in Rochester, New York?

That there is a statue in a Rochester park of the two of them together? It is called “Let’s Have Tea.” They are sitting together face-to-face with a table between them set with a teapot, two cups, and two books.

Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 into a Quaker family full of activist traditions. Anthony traveled and campaigned for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights.

On more than one occasion Anthony gave a speech challenging white people to oppose slavery. She painted a picture of slavery for her white audiences.

“Let us feel that it is our own children,” she said, “ruthlessly torn from our yearning mother hearts, sold on the auction block to the highest bidder. ‘Make the slave their neighbor, and love him as oneself’,” she admonished, quoting Matthew 22:30.

“We are bound up with the slave-holder in his guilt,” Anthony would tell her white audiences.

Douglass and Anthony met in 1845 while he was on a speaking tour.

In 1847 Douglass and his wife, Anna, moved to Rochester, where their home became one of the stops on the Underground Railroad.

In 1848 Frederick Douglass attended the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls and wrote about it in his paper, The North Star.

“All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and account able being, is equally true of woman; and if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land.”

The Douglass and Anthony friendship was seriously tested when it came to suffrage for former slaves and women under the Civil Rights Bill of 1866.

Neither African Americans nor women could vote.

Anthony proposed universal suffrage and opposed Black men being given suffrage before women.

The 15th Amendment guaranteed all citizens the right to vote, regardless of race, but did not include voting rights for women.

Douglass tried to persuade his friend to support its ratification.

“When women because they are women are dragged from their homes and hung upon lampposts, . . . then they will have the urgency to obtain the ballot.” Asked if that was not also true about Black women, he responded, “Yes, but not because she is a woman but because she is black.”

The amendment was ratified in 1870.

Anthony, although arrested for voting in 1872, died before she could do so legally.

Does Trump know Susan B. Anthony?

This morning students at Swarthmore College are sitting-in, demanding that the administration divest in fossil fuel.

Swarthmore students protest. Vietnam in the 70s. South African apartheid in the 80s. Today, for the environment.

Dear Anne Lowry,

Despite the landslide victory in the referendum earlier this week and the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, the Board and administration have refused to engage with students on divestment. A few hours after the referendum results were announced, President Smith and Board Chair Spock emailed the campus reiterating the Board’s 2015 decision not to divest, citing the College’s investment guidelines adopted after it divested from apartheid South Africa in 1991 that the “Investment Committee manages the endowment to yield the best long term financial results, rather than to pursue other social objectives.”

We are deeply disappointed that the Board refuses to engage with the student body on this important issue. That is why, tomorrow (2/24), students are staging a sit-in to hold the Board accountable and to demand that it take students’ voices seriously.

Will you join us tomorrow in demanding accountability and action from the Board? Attached are detailed instructions for how you can help by calling and emailing the administration while students sit-in on campus.

This is not the first time that students have gotten a “no” from the Board. The anti-apartheid divestment campaign spanned eleven long years: eleven years of being ignored, sidestepped, and rejected by the Board. Despite the Board rejecting divestment four times, students and faculty persisted, taking increasingly escalated action, and in 1989 the Board committed to a plan to divest from apartheid.

Due to student and faculty efforts, the Board stood on the right side of history. Now, as the Trump administration partners with the fossil fuel industry to push disastrous climate policies that threaten millions of people and our futures, we need our Board to take a stand for justice once again. And we are confident that if we stand together as a community, we will win. 

Will you join us in sending this powerful message to the Board by calling and emailing tomorrow?

Onwards,

Abby Saul ’19 and September Porras ’20

We have been here before. 75 years ago today, FDR signed Executive Order 9066.

In the summer of 2011 we were on a road trip through beautiful western Wyoming.

Jackson Hole. The Tetons. Yellowstone.

We drove back through the eastern part of the state so that we could stop for a day in Cheyenne for the rodeo.

I desperately needed an excuse to wear my white Stetson hat that I had purchased in Fort Worth a few years earlier at an NEA Representative Assembly in Dallas.

There are not many opportunities to wear a white Stetson hat in Chicago.

That part of the west is not called big sky country for nothing. Eastern Wyoming is mostly flat with a few outcroppings, one of which is Heart Mountain.

We drove along the interstate through miles of open prairie until we came upon markers for the Heart Mountain internment camp.

During World War II 14,000 Japanese, some American citizens and some non-citizen immigrants, were rounded up and moved to Heart Mountain, Wyoming based on FDR’s  Executive Order 9066. Photos: Fred Klonsky

Today, February 19th, marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, when 150,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up, their property confiscated and forced into concentration camps scattered across the western states.

The only reason for their incarceration was their nationality and the nationality of their ancestors. They had committed no crimes.

Only 75 years ago.

Listen to Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers on the radio.

 

A must read. Women’s March: January, 21, 2017. Pensacola, Florida.

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-By Bob Zellner from his Facebook page. Bob Zellner is the organizer of the Ella Baker Organizing School South BOSS at North Carolina NAACP and former Field Secretary at SNCC.

The worst weather in the United States erupted this morning as our small band suited up to drive from Daphne, Alabama, my hometown, to Pensacola for the Women’s March. Tornado alarms screamed as we drove through rain and wind toward Morning Joe’s hometown.

Four women organizers in our crowded SUV talked to driver Kent about not hydroplaning. “Warning,” someone reminded us, “means there’s a twister on the ground somewhere nearby.” Another declared that if there were only a dozen people at the march, at least we would be there.

Nearing the end of Palafox at Luna Plaza in Pensacola we could make out rainbows of bright umbrellas and rain slickers, as small groups with dripping signs surged toward the troubled waters of the bay. The lightening cracking above raised signs and umbrellas ignited my moderate to severe PTSD. Dark clouds hovered just above the water while Kent eased the BMW into a miraculously open parking place smack in front of a café awning shielding a few huddled marchers. Being the only man in the car, I was soon ordered to jump out for updated news of the march and rally. Smiling folks said the platform speaking was postposed till 12:30 pm due to the lightening. Thinking we might relax, we breathed relief but seconds later a huge army of shouting women, men, young people, and children came barreling down the flooded street. Sally Pat suddenly bailed out, disappearing in a sea of soaked but happy folks.

Michele grabbed her “Keep Abortion Legal” sign along with one of the two available beach umbrellas while I latched on to the other. We left Kent and Pamela alone figuring out the SUV’s next move – give up a secure parking place or take a chance on finding one nearer the stage?

The protest river growing by the moment, we kept our phones as dry as possible, taking photos for Facebook and twitter. A multitude gathered where the sand met the bay, making me wonder how on earth there could be this many progressive people willing to risk death by lightening while protesting the new administration. This, in the conservative, extremist, Florida panhandle known worldwide as LA, lower Alabama?!

Something must be happening!

Bob Zellner

sncczellner@gmail.com

National universities plead to Trump on behalf of DACA, but…

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Luis Gomez, a 21-year-old senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Following up on the previous post.

While the University of Illinois has turned a deaf ear to faculty, student and alumni calls for undocumented student sanctuary, Muriel A. Howard, the president of the American Association of State Colleges & Universities, voiced support for these students.

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Trump vowed to rescind as he campaigned for the presidency. DACA is the 2012 Obama directive that gave undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a chance to work and study legally, without getting deported.

Howard sent a letter to Trump this week in support of the program. “Only through such a robust and accessible infrastructure for all of our people can America compete on the global stage,” she wrote.

However, after congratulating Trump on his election, the letter included this:

“We appreciate your most recent comments that immigration enforcement should focus on undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes.”

This statement is a straw man and feeds into the Trump racist statements about immigrants being rapists and thieves.

Reading this, I recalled the comments of Luis Gomez, a 21-year-old senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Gomez had been invited to join Mayor Rahm Emanuel and my Congressman Luis Gutierrez for a press conference on Chicago’s commitment to sanctuary.

Gomez surprised the Mayor and the Congressman by criticizing their selective sanctuary position.

“If unity is to be achieved, you need to stop categorizing and separating the undocumented community between deplorable and DREAMers,” Gomez said. “I demand that you stand for all immigrants.”

In a follow-up interview with In These Times, Gomez explained further.

Trump gave an interview saying that he was planning to deport or incarcerate undocumented immigrants with a criminal record. And his policy proposal wasn’t specific about which kinds of crimes they would target, meaning that some immigration violations could in fact become criminal, like returning to the United States after you’ve been deported. It could also include people who lost their way when they were younger, but now are in school—I know people like that who got in trouble with the law—and people who have been desperate because of their situation with no legal status and have resorted to means of survival that are not legal.

When I heard that Trump was planning to incarcerate and deport these people, I knew I had to do something. These people that I’m talking about, these are people in our communities, these are families, these are our friends. It’s important for me to speak for these people because if they deport everyone that I know and love, then there’s no point in saving me.

You need to protect us all, not just the people who you deem as deserving of being saved.

#TBT. Los Angeles. 1963. Fighting segregation.

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From the book North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photographs Beyond the South.

In 1963, my friends and I left Fairfax High School with our school books. For weeks we traveled to the LAUSD offices in downtown Los Angeles for a “study-in” protesting our racially segregated schools.

I was fifteen years old.

We were also there to support hunger strikers from the Congress of Racial Equality protesting district lines that re-enforced L.A.’s racially segregated housing patterns.

From amazing photographs in a recently published book: North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photographs Beyond the South.

I hate racial segregation. It’s in my DNA.

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Back in 1896 the United States Supreme Court ruled that when it came to race in America, separate but equal was the law of the land.

Apartheid was legal in this country until the Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson in 1954.

The named plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education was Oliver Brown.

Brown’s daughter Linda was in third grade at the time. She had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to her segregated black school one mile away. Linda Brown’s nearest school was a white school. It was seven blocks from her home.

Linda Brown:

… well. like I say, we lived in an integrated neighborhood and I had all of these playmates of different nationalities. And so when I found out that day that I might be able to go to their school, I was just thrilled, you know. And I remember walking over to Sumner school with my dad that day and going up the steps of the school and the school looked so big to a smaller child. And I remember going inside and my dad spoke with someone and then he went into the inner office with the principal and they left me out … to sit outside with the secretary. And while he was in the inner office, I could hear voices and hear his voice raised, you know, as the conversation went on. And then he immediately came out of the office, took me by the hand and we walked home from the school. I just couldn’t understand what was happening because I was so sure that I was going to go to school with Mona and Guinevere, Wanda, and all of my playmates.

Former Arne Duncan advisor and now Eli Broad funded ed reformer Peter Cunningham complain that the fight against desegregation is too hard and too costly. Better to return to accept the notion of separate but equal. More than accept it, they suggest it as a policy.

My brother took this on yesterday.

Peter Cunningham’s latest apologia for school segregation, in U.S. News & World Report, is basically a defense of current reform policies that have been shown to re-segregate schools. It represents more than just the opinion of a lone education gadfly. Cunningham is paid millions to speak for some of the most powerful and wealthiest among those who influence national ed policy.

It’s run up the flag pole at a time when corporate-style “reform” has come under attack from civil rights groups and teacher unions, and appear to be losing their cachet, even within the Democratic Party establishment.

Cunningham tries to come off as a tormented soul, torn between his personal and “pragmatic” side, the latter arguing that ending poverty and integration are just too “politically difficult and financially expensive” and therefore, instead of spending hundreds of billions more to reduce poverty and reduce segregation, we should just “double down on our efforts to improve schools.”

At a recent DFER-sponsored forum at the DNC, Cunningham laid out his anti-deseg line in an obvious attempt to influence Clinton’s education agenda. He answered a question about school integration this way: “Maybe the fight’s not worth it. It’s a good thing; we all think integration is good. But it’s been a long fight, we’ve had middling success. At the same time, we have lots and lots of schools filled with kids of one race, one background, that are doing great. 

There nothing original in Cunningham’s comments. If they strike you as a throwback to Plessy v. Ferguson and the separate-but-equal doctrine, you’re definitely on to something. As we learned back then, when it comes to schooling, separate is never equal. Following the Brown v. Board decision in 1954, the difficulty and protracted nature of the struggle against de factosegregation and poverty has caused some to throw in the towel.

Cunningham is basically echoing the call of his boss at the D.O.E., former Sec. of Education Arne Duncan. It was he who tried to put the kibosh on a Justice Dept. civil right suit against the state of Louisiana, which would have blocked expansion of the state’s school voucher system.

Peter Cunningham does not just speak for himself. He represents the corporate school reform movement and those in Obama’s Department of education – and perhaps Hillary’s too.

Last week Cunningham lashed out claiming our lack of appreciation for the work Arne Duncan had done to improve teacher salaries and pensions had something to do with my brother’s DNA and mine.

Talking about our DNA.

Promoting separate but equal schools.

I don’t think I’m missing anything here.

Do you?