DFER-DC Condemns Racist Language Used By DC Elected Official
July 22, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 22, 2020)—Democrats for Education Reform-DC (DFER-DC) Director Ramin Taheri released the following statement today:
“Public service, no matter the position, is an honor and a privilege. But elected office—being chosen by voters to represent them, to speak for them—to literally voice their desires and demands—is a special calling, one with a host of solemn duties and responsibilities. Our elected leaders are our champions and our advocates, and they must speak of and represent their constituents—and all citizens—with dignity and respect. Their platform should be used to support our communities, encourage allies to rally around them, and advance policies that mitigate historic harms and effect real, lasting change.
Last week, however, one such leader, ostensibly speaking on behalf of DC at large, demeaned and denigrated the very citizens for whom she should be fighting, using vile and dangerous stereotypes and overtly racist language. It should go without saying that no three-year-old child should be criminalized. But this elected leader went further, invoking race to suggest that a Black child is inherently dangerous or violent; this is the epitome of the systemic racism and hatred that have undermined our democracy since its beginning. For too long, this country has used the demonization of Black children as a rationalization for systematically depriving them of their educational and human rights; consequently leading to disadvantage, discrimination, mass incarceration, and generational poverty.
At DFER-DC, we believe an equitable, fully funded public education is an essential tool to breaking down the racist systems of our society. The centuries-old system of how children are educated with an anti-Black mindset has done untold damage and must be abandoned immediately. We stand against racism in all its forms and will not hesitate to speak up when we see something that is not right and not just. We expect no less from our elected leaders; in fact, we expect more.
As of today, however, the aforementioned elected leader has offered no apology, no indication that she understands that her comments were wrong and harmful, and no statement suggesting that she is committed to change. At DFER-DC, we know that an apology does not itself provide absolution, but it is an important first step toward healing. Refusing to take this step is unacceptable.
As the late John Lewis, member of Congress and one of America’s great leaders of the modern civil rights movement, noted, ‘when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.’ We pledge to speak up, to live our values, and to hold our elected leaders accountable when they are wrong. We hope this is a wake up call for this particular elected leader, and others, to question their own biases, commit to change, and to join the movement to dismantle racism in our public education system.”
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