E.J. McIver’s memo about race to his fellow Florence One board members

April 13, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: Florence One Schools board member E.J. McIver submitted the following piece to the Morning News. He read this piece Thursday during the public participation section of a board meeting after requesting that the topic of racism be placed on the agenda of a board meeting as a discussion item.

To: The Superintendent and fellow Board Members

From: Edward J. McIver

Subject: Racism

After several unsuccessfully requests to place racism on the Board’s agenda, I have decided to take a different approach by addressing the purpose of my request. Racism has many faces and can be a difficult topic for those of us affected by the subject. Having said that, the issue of Internalized Racism, Structural and/or Institutional racism, and Systemic Racism to name a few, plays a role in the foundation of this Nation, and our society, according to the experts. As a result, we need to discuss, recognize, identify, and determine if and how racism is problematic to our educational system. Since, Systemic racism is my focus point, and to provide information, I have been looking at topics of discussion such as:

>> What is systemic racism,

>> How to recognize subtleness in racism,

>> Why we’ve got to talk about race if we want to achieve education equity,

>> How racism is the foundation of the society in which we live

>> Racism and how it affects and disrupts students’ education

If we can open our minds to undertake the subject matter, we may gain a broader prospective on how to make our school district the best that we can be.

Nicki Lisa Cole, PH.D in sociology from the University of California, Currently a researcher at the University of York, in York England defines Systemic racism as follows: Systemic racism is both a theoretical concept and a reality. As a theory, it is premised on the research-supported claim that the United States was founded as a racist society, that racism is thus embedded in all social institutions, structures, and social relations within our society. Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.

Robin L. Hughes, PH.D from Texas A&M, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies-Student Affairs in higher education at Indiana University states, “Roots of Structural and Institutional racism” is formed in a “subtle” way to make it seem “normal” or even “innocent.” According to Hughes, “That is the way that institutionalized racism works; it is rooted in the core of one’s everyday existence yet it is easy to detect if we just look and assess.” For example: “Look at the organizational structure to which you belong. If the organization is disproportionately White in all upper levels positions, and all of the folks in lower level positions are folks of color, then your organization may have an institutionalized racism problem.”

Danielle M. Gonzales, Managing Director, Education and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, Washington, D.C tells us “Why We’ve Got to talk about Race if we want to achieve Education Equity.” According to Gonzales, “Our ability as a Nation to engage in difficult conversations about race has left us with a lack of agreement on how to define equity.” Also, equity in schools will help close “achievement gaps between white students and students of color and between upper-and lower-income students.”

Joe Feagin, is a US Sociologist and Social Theorist, distinguished Professor at Texas A&M, writer, and Graduate of Harvard and Baylor Universities. Feagin’s theory and the research gathered by many others over the period of a century suggests that racism is weaved into the foundation of our society. “It is present in our laws, our politics, our economy, in our social institutions, and in how we think and act, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Priscilla Brice, Founder and Managing Director of All Together Now, discusses how Racism disrupts students’ education. She talks about recognizing racism and how it exist in our schools. “Racism occurs in explicit forms such as name-calling, teasing, exclusion, verbal abuse, and bullying. It is also commonly and indirectly presented through prejudiced attitudes, lack of recognition of cultural diversity and culturally biased practices.”

In conclusion, I have researched and presented to you a selection of Educators with snippets of their research, and studies on racism, and how we are affected as a Nation, and as a Society. In my opinion, It is our civic duty as community leaders to tackle the subject matter. As a matter of fact, it is incumbent upon us as community leaders to at least try to discuss, recognize, identify, and act on any type of racism detected in our Educational system. Therefore, I SUBMIT once again my detailed request to place Systemic racism on the next School Board meeting agenda for discussion.

Thank you for your attention and your consideration.

Edward James McIver

School Board Member