by Ari Robin McKenna
Trigger Warning: this article includes descriptions of incidents in which racist language is used.
In a student-lead briefing on Monday, Jan. 25 on Zoom, educators, parents, youth in the NAACP Youth Coalition, and members of the press convened to kick off the Black Lives Matter (BLM) at School Week of Action in Seattle. Now a national movement four years running, it all began here in the South End in 2016 when John Muir Elementary School (JMES) had to temporarily cancel plans for an assembly meant to bolster the morale of Black students. After word spread via Breitbart News Network that teachers at the district-sponsored event would be wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts, organizers received hate mail and a bomb threat, causing them to temporarily cancel the assembly. Then, in an impressive display of Seattle solidarity with JMES, over 3,000 educators district-wide showed up to work donning “Black Lives Matter” shirts, and a movement was born.
Continue reading Fourth-Annual National BLM at School Week of Action Kicks Off With Calls for Local Accountability
by Ari Robin McKenna
This is the sixth in a series of seven articles about ethnic studies. Find the first five here.
On January 30, 2020, during the whir of a work day, the Seattle Public Schools Ethnic Studies Program Manager, Tracy Castro-Gill, was placed on paid administrative leave. She was told she needed to be out of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (JSCEE) effective immediately. As Castro-Gill was escorted out of the building with all of her belongings, she remembers that time seemed to go in reverse as she passed coworkers she’d called out for their actions or words supporting systemic racism — in a district office that has presided over a school system with decades of appalling racial disparities. The Ethnic Studies Advisory Group (ESAG) that Castro-Gill had assembled to develop K–12 ethnic studies content began a boycott of SPS the next day in protest. Mandated by a unanimous 2017 School Board of Directors order, the Advisory Group’s work has remained on a district hard drive somewhere inside the bunker-like JSCEE, despite the winds of change swirling outside. A white man Castro-Gill worked with later mocked her with casual finality: “How’s that call-out culture working out for you, Tracy?”
Continue reading Tracy Castro-Gill Is Insuppressible, and So Is Ethnic Studies