The ACLU of Michigan calls for apology and restorative practices in the wake of racial taunts by Royal Oak Middle school students

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.”

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  1. jcp2
    Posted November 18, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t seem to be working.

  2. Posted November 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I was just going to mention that JCP2. I received this earlier today from someone in the district. When I mentioned it to Alicia, she said that, while terrible, her sense is that the district is handling it better now, so I guess that’s a positive.


  3. Morbid Larson
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    I like how conservative America seems to be ok with it all, simply because Trump won the election, as if to say that the winning team can do whatever they like.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    That’s reportedly exactly what abusers are saying during these assaults. They often utter some version of ‘It’s a free country now,” while attacking others. They are really doing a bang up job of making America great again so far.

    I think the left(especially Ssnders/Warren) screwed up badly when it jumped to criticize Trump for not ‘draining the swamp’ when he formed his transition team. He’s doing it now… and it’s much worse.

    We know that Trump is super reactive to criticism. He plays to the crowd, which is how he morphed from old school sexist to full fledged bigot during the last decade. He reacts to criticism always– but not always in ways we want. We need to be very careful about the implications of what we ask for from President Trump. Mere declarations of hypocrisy are not enough– especially in areas where we want him to be a hypocrite.

    The calls right now should be for decency and efforts to unify the country– while standing up to abuse. Those are basic human rights issues, and if Trump can believe them, he should care about them. the country is in grave danger if it attacks him in ways that push him further to the right… ok more grave danger.

  5. iRobert
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I think we can all agree, Royal Oak is a dump.

  6. Demetrius
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    @ Jean

    You have written plenty of awful, hateful things … but inferring that criticism of Donald Trump by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren (or, “the left”) is in *any* way responsible for hateful, racist attacks by some Trump supporters (or their children) is absolutely a new low.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Demetrius– Draining the Swamp was a reference to his cabinet positions.
    It was early and I was tired. I probably posted it in the wrong space. But they are fucking things up.

    But, since you brought it up, many on the left are repeating this cry of feel for the white working class, even though the white working class is not the entirety or even the majority of Trump voters. Trump voters were shown in a gallup poll not to be largely impacted by globalization.

    And the people being subjected to ethnic harassment are really really upset at Bernie for turning the focus so quickly back to the working class. Just as they were angry at him and his supporters for minimizing their concerns in the primary. Sanders is asking the Dems to ask themselves hard questions in the wake of the loss. Did he do the same? Where are the polls and surveys of the working class POC, women and disabled who did not vote for him? Where was his self-inquiry.

    The working class is not a monolith either.

    It may just be that the working class isn’t going to be able to unify until the bigotry is purged. But the left ignores all but the most outrageous evidence of bias. They certainly never consider their own. The left needs to stop yelling and waving arms and start listening and not dismissing the voices of the truly marginalized. When they do, maybe we can deal with this atrocity and unify down the road.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Ignored by the left since August. Why???

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    An analysis of what distinguishes the majority Trump voters from others found no distinctions beyond college education and race– not in income, wealth etc– except for public health. Some of those problems relate to environmental factors and a lifetime of physical labor, but most relate to diet, exercise and substance abuse. The problems Pete cited and was lambasted for in another thread.

    So if the left really feels for the working class, they would work on health care reform, not issues of globalization or income inequality. I’m all for that. Just sayin’.

  10. iRobert
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    If Jean were a person of more color, I would insist Mark turn his blog over to her. She clearly is more dedicated to it than he is. He’s just another lazy white privileged liberal. We’re all sick of it.

  11. iRobert
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I also couldn’t support Jean taking over the blog because she uses the “B” word; a word that has historically been used to degrade and debase an entire gender.

    Some of you may remember the protests I organized years ago to get Mark to stop using the term “cock-sucker” on his blog. I’m proud to say I won that battle. Eventually, Mark came to understand that the use of that term as an insult suggested that the act of cock sucking somehow made a person partaking in it deserving of disdain. Quite the opposite is true, of course. In fact, those who do partake in such an act are worthy of our deepest gratitude.

    I don’t think I’d have as much luck trying to convince Jean to stop using the “B” word, even though, as an insult, it suggests a person to be weak, pathetic, and dominated, and equates all this with being a female dog. That’s something I would think she would at least want to pretend to be against.

    If EOS can pretend to be a Christian online, it seems to me that Jean can at least try to pretend to be a person who wants to see all women respected and empowered. Oh well. I guess I’ve always been a dreamer.

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I don’t have any problem with the word “Bitch.” I don;t believe censorship solves anything. But more than that, I see ‘Bitch’ not as connoting someone who is submissive and dominated, but as someone who is protects her brood and fights back, is forthright and can be kind but rarely plays nice. Don;t cross her.
    When is that last time you heard someone called a bitch because they behaved in a submissive manner outside of S&M scenarios?
    That’s just the wrong meaning. Bitch is not inherently degrading. It’s all context. Like any word. Even when used in a degrading context, many women like to turn it around and own it. They refuse to be degraded by owning the meaning. Did you catch that whole Nasty woman thing?

    My basement is emptied and cleaned. Now I have to bleach the crap (literally) out of it and repaint. Then I can leave the house and go on with my life. I would be here less if you all were anything but relentlessly condescending while spreading misinformation or half information. For a bitch like me, that’s an invitation. It’s clear you don’t like being dominated in discourse, but you kind of beg for it, don’t you?

    I’ll miss you guys.

  13. Lynne
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. Bitch is one of those words when context matters. It is used as an insult by men for a powerful woman. I take it as a compliment and sometimes use it as a compliment too. Every time someone called Clinton a bitch, I said, “bitches get shit done!”

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    iRobert– The suppression of words like bitch makes for polite society. It does not makes for a not sexist society however. What is considered ‘polite’ to discuss can make it hard to talk about abuse. Here is an example of a woman reclaiming the word ‘bitch’ early on and later (4:40) demonstrating perfectly the problem inherent to word censorship.

    If it helps, to look at it through the race lens rather than gender, this one dissects the censorship of “the *N-word”.

  15. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Fuck you, Bitch!

  16. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    …and I say that with all due respect. It seems that rather than converting you, I’ve been converted by you.

    I had much better luck with Mark. You can say a lot of nasty things about him, and all of them true, but at least he’s not some phony hypocrite just going through life rationalizing all his sick impulses. So don’t be too hard on him. He has at least that one redeeming quality.

  17. jean henry
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    It doesn’t bother me at all, iRobert. Women by and large aren’t fragile. You can’t imagine the crap we put up with. You didn’t get my point, but that’s ok. You rarely do. This crowd tends to see feminism as prescribed ideology when it prescribes nothing, but that we recognize, acknowledge and address gender bias where we can. (Even when politically inconvenient) It doesn’t prescribe how one dresses, talks, partners, has sex or lives one’s life. It is not in any way moralistic. That’s an individual choice. I don’t believe my use of the term was an expression of gender bias since I don’t know EOS gender. I don’t care to know if it was gender bias in your case. I think you were using inflammatory language to make a point. I’m totally ok with that if the point is valid. I just don’t see your point as valid here. To each his own.

    PS I think Mark is as hypocritical as anyone. In my experience, those inclined to be inflamed by hypocrisy in politics– expecially when politically expedient– are usually guilty of it themselves. I include myself in that analysis.

  18. jean henry
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    It is true that Mark is a good guy and sturdy with criticism though. At least as well as we can see. I agree with all of that. It’s a public blog. Bloggers, especially political bloggers, can reasonably expect more than a cheering affirming audience.

  19. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    If I didn’t understand something, it was because I wasn’t paying attention. Sorry. I’m ADHD.

    Anyway, where do you stand on the whole “Cocksucker” controversy?

  20. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    EOS is male, by the way. He’s somewhat effeminate, but still technically male.

  21. iRobert
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    You might not know this, but Larson used to be intolerable. He’s practically lovable now. It’s been quite a transformation.

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say Mark is a good guy. It’s my understanding that he really likes blowjobs. I think that keeps him in line somewhat.

  22. jean henry
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I quite like the term cocksucker. I don’t actually consider it derogatory. In Greek they use the term Malakas meaning masterbator or, I guess, Jack Off. It was not my impression that this slowed their inclination to indulge in said activity.

    PS I’m also ADHD. It’s a gift once you learn how to use it. It’s good to learn to fail and recover. We get to practice daily.

  23. jean henry
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    PS I used to wait on Pete when he was a scrawny pup with a Mississippi accent. He was the first vegan I ever served. Way ahead of his time. He barely spoke but tipped well. Highly tolerable. Pete– whether cranky, self-loathing, hyperbolic, prickly or detached– is consistently the smartest and most challenging person in this virtual room. That may be why he is miscontrued or ignored here most of the time.

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