A few days ago, as you may recall, I interviewed Alicia Ramon, the mother of a student at Royal Oak Middle School, about a series of racist incidents that had been directed at her daughter, Josie, and her fellow students of color. During that interview, as you may also recall, Ramon mentioned that she and others had been touch with the ACLU of Michigan about the situation. Well, earlier today, Mark Fancher of the ACLU, who was a guest on last weekend’s episode of the Saturday Six Pack with me, went public with a letter that he’d sent to Royal Oak Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin. The entire letter can be found on the ACLU’s site, but here’s how it begins.
The letter concludes with three “minimal essential measures” that, in the opinion of Fancher and the ACLU, need to be taken. First, apologies must be given to all students who have been affected by this conduct. Second, appropriate discipline must be taken against all personnel who have been involved. And, third, there must be unambiguous communication to the entire school district, making it clear that there will be zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment and bullying.
If you feel inspired to do so, I would encourage you to also write to Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin, whose address can be found at the top of the page, and let him know that you expect him to follow the course laid out by the ACLU. [You can also send letters of encouragement and to Josie and her fellow students at Royal Oak Middle School at 709 North Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48067.] And, if you have the resources to do so, I’d also ask you to consider making a donation to the ACLU, as we’re going to need them now more than ever.
Also, if you’ve yet to read my interview with Alicia Ramon about what her daughter has experienced at the school over the past year, you really should check it out. And you should share it too… Everyone needs to be aware of what’s happening out there in American right now.
One last thing… It’s important to note, as Fancher did during our interview, that we shouldn’t be looking to punish the children responsible for these instances of racial intimidation. Rather, we should be focused on helping them to become more empathetic. “As abhorrent, hurtful and wrong as this kind of action is, we don’t think children should be demonized for this sort of behavior, especially when it’s likely that they’re just repeating what they’ve heard at campaign rallies, on the news or in their own homes,” said Fancher. “We think the district has an obligation to show these children the harm in their actions and to teach the importance and value of respecting the history and culture of others.”