Things That Matter

An LA School Handed Out A Map To Help Students Learn The Capitals But Many Say It Had A Blatantly Racist Message

Fifth graders at Downey Unified School District in Los Angeles were given a map of the United States with the letters C-A-N-T across the southern border to indicate immigrants “can’t just cross it.” Parents of students at the school were fuming and felt the study guide was racist. 

The letters represented the states California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The acronym is intended to be a mnemonic device but it was the phrase “you can’t just cross the border of the U.S.” accompanying the image that left parents upset. The Southeast Los Angeles city is largely Latinx, so the assignment struck a nerve.

Erick Galindo of LAist looked into how this study guide found its way into a classroom, and things got messy from there.  

The study guide was downloaded by a fifth-grade teacher from a website.

Galindo found that the study guide, 50 States and Capitals, was created by a teacher in San Francisco with information pulled from a YouTube channel by someone named Ms. Alexander. A teacher at Downey Unified school bought the guide from Teachers Pay Teachers, a marketplace where teachers can buy and sell syllabus materials. 

The teacher did not review it before they handed it out to students over Veterans Day weekend. Parents were furious when they saw it and aired their grievances on social media. 

“This kind of stuff needs to f——— stop,” Jose, a parent of a student at the school, told LAist

The district stopped handing out the guide and is now reviewing how educators audit third-party teaching materials. Teachers Pay Teachers has also stopped selling the guide. 

“I was concerned that she had gotten something like that,” Emily said. “I grew up here. I have a kid who goes to school here. It’s scary.” Emily was one of the parents who called the district office, where she said a representative told her they were handling it.

The district is proactively taking steps to address the situation.

According to LAist, the school immediately spoke with parents of students who used the handout and apologized. The district won’t publicly reveal which teachers used it, although they insist there will be consequences for the educator.  

“Obviously, the structural elements of this worksheet did not convey an inclusive environment,” said Ashley Greaney, the district’s public relations coordinator. ” As an inclusive district, we absolutely do not condone any type of content that is not inclusive in nature.” 

The assistant superintendent educator Wayne Shannon said it was nonunique for teachers to be using third-party websites but that every now and then a teacher may make a poor selection. Shannon said teachers must now fully review anything they hand out to children. Some parents wondered if the district was doing enough, and feared the study guide might just end up in different schools. 

“We need to talk about it,” Jose said. “We can’t be quiet about it. This is a big deal. It a perfect example of how this stuff is so normal, or else it wouldn’t be happening in Downey,” Jose explained. 

LAist finds the YouTube series that inspired the “CANT” map.

Galindo was able to track down the school teacher selling the guide, Brian Louie. Louie declined to comment but said the lesson plan was based on online resources. Several YouTube videos had similar mnemonic devices. 

A woman who goes by Ms. Alexander appeared to mirror the handout nearly identically. 

“The very first thing we are going to start with is ‘can’t,'” Ms. Alexander as she writes C-A-N-T on each letter’s accompanying state. “This is the Mexican border, you can’t cross the border without the right paperwork.”

Many parents in the comments of the YouTube wanted to know what the purpose was of having any commentary about the border at all when it was irrelevant to the assignment. Teachers Pay Teachers quickly addressed the issue, although there’s no way to know how far the guide has circulated. 

“We take resource quality and offensive content very seriously,” Kristin Hodgson of Teachers Pay Teacher told LAist. “It’s extremely important to us that Teachers Pay Teachers’ resources make educators and their students feel respected and safe. If anyone becomes aware of TpT content that may be offensive, they can use our community flagging tool to report the resource to us for review.”

The website relies on a peer-review process to flag any inappropriate or incorrect content. The Downey Unified District reported the lesson plan on the website and it was promptly taken down, and the page for the guide is now no longer available. As for the parents, they remain skeptical that YouTube is a good source of information for students. 

“I can’t imagine what’s happening in other schools,” Lisa, a parent of one of the students, said. “How does a YouTube video become homework?”

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A Racist White Woman Was Caught On Video Telling Black Neighbor To “Act White” Because It’s A White Neighborhood

Things That Matter

A Racist White Woman Was Caught On Video Telling Black Neighbor To “Act White” Because It’s A White Neighborhood

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Surprise, surprise! Another racist white woman ahs been caught on camera harassing her Black neighbors. This time the target was a Black family who had been neighbors of the alleged racist for more than ten years.

It seems that every week we see new videos going viral involving white peoples being racists. In some of these incidents, these individuals have threatened or called the police on Black Americans doing seemingly routine or nonthreatening activities.

Such actions from white Americans have received heightened national scrutiny, particularly in the wake of the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism demonstrations that have taken place across the country and around the world in the past several months. Demonstrators have called for an end to systemic racism in U.S. society, and in particular for major police reforms and changes to the justice system.

But none of that seemed to matter to this woman who wanted her Black neighbors to start acting white.

A White woman is going viral after threatening her Black neighbor and telling her to “act white.”

The Jones family, who have lived in California’s Discovery Bay neighborhood for more than ten years, captured their neighbor asking, “Why don’t you act like a white person in a white neighborhood?”

According to the family, who spoke with local media, they haven’t previously had any problems with white neighbors. But that changed when a white neighbor confronted them on Monday, in an incident that was captured on video.

Gerritt Jones and his family have lived in the Bay Area neighborhood for 12 years and say they’ve never had any issues involving the woman they identify as Adana Dean, who lives across the street from them.

In surveillance video and cell phone video provided to ABC7 News by the Jones family, you can hear Adana say “You know what? You guys are acting like Black people and you should act like white people.”

She goes on to say in another clip “You’re a Black person in a white neighborhood and you’re acting like one why don’t you act like a white person in a white neighborhood?”

“Unfortunately that’s the reality of being black in America,” says Gerritt.

The incident made headlines and got the attention of the country sheriff.

Adana had threatened the family with her racist words but was also holding a stun gun when she confronted the family. As a result, the Contra Costa County Sheriff did respond to the incident and spoke to both parties, although no charges were filed.

“The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff takes these types of acts seriously. Deputy sheriffs responded to the home yesterday and contacted both parties involved,” Jimmy Lee, director of public affairs at the sheriff’s office, said in a statement.

Although deputies determined that no crime had been committed, a report was taken to document the interaction between the two neighbors, as the original complaint was in reference to a neighbor dispute due to an off-leash dog,” Lee said.

Unfortunately, incidents like this one are far too common across the country.

“It don’t matter if you grew up in a gated community your whole life,” Gerritt Jones, another family member, told KNTV. “It’s bound to happen. It’s going to happen. And as African Americans, unfortunately, we have to prepare our children on how to deal with this.”

“It was just very angering to see that come to our front door,” Jariell Jones, another family member added. She said her family has always gone out of their way to “be extra nice, say ‘yes, ma’am, yes, sir,’ which I feel is sick that we even have to feel that way.”

Jones added, “But even though we were trying to be good Black people in their good white neighborhood, they still treated us this way.”

However, the incident has empowered the family to be who they are. “We’re going to act Black in our white neighborhood,” Jones added.

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Hate Crimes Towards Latinos Spiked in 2019; Overall Highest They’ve Been in a Decade

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Hate Crimes Towards Latinos Spiked in 2019; Overall Highest They’ve Been in a Decade

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

In April of 2019, Connie and Michelle Pineda moved into the quiet suburban neighborhood of Lake Forest in Louisville, Kentucky. At first, their lives were peaceful and uneventful. But soon, the family began to receive a barrage of mysterious harassment.

First, it was the odd chemical burns they found on their front lawn–marks that seemed man-made. Then, some neighborhood kids called the Pineda children a racial slur (the Pinedas are a mixed Latino-Filipino family).

Soon, Connie and Michelle Pineda were waking up to a bright orange swastika accompanied by the n-word spray painted on their driveway.

Photo: Michela Connie Pineda/Facebook

The Pinedas checked their security cameras and discovered the culprit: their neighbor, 52-year-old Suzanne Craft. The Pinedas reported Craft to the authorities, and she was charged with criminal mischief and sentenced to seven days in jail. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing the harassment. A bag of bullets recently appeared on the Pinedas’ front lawn. It came with a note that read: Get out.

“They live in fear,” the Pinedas’ attorney Vanessa Cantley told The Washington Post. “They have five children and three of them are old enough to know exactly what’s happening. They won’t go out and play in the yard. They won’t go out to walk the neighborhood. They are basically prisoners in their own home. The whole family sleeps in the living room, where there are no windows, because they just don’t know what this woman is capable of.”

Photo: Michela Connie Pineda/Facebook

Unfortunately, stories like this are becoming more and more common in the United States.

The FBI released their annual report detailing hate crime statistics and the data showed that hate crimes have reached their highest level in more than a decade. The report also showed the highest amount of hate-motivated killing since the FBI began collected this type of data in the early 1990s.

According to the FBI report, there were 51 hate-motivated killings in 2019. Twenty-two of those murders were from the El Paso Shooting.

In August of 2019, a gunman open-fired on patrons at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas. It was later discovered that the shooting was racially-motivated. Previous to his killing spree, the shooter wrote on Facebook that Mexicans were “invading” the United States.

Hate crimes against Latinos spiked to 527 in 2019, up from 485 in 2018. Many critics are attributing the rise in hate crimes to the divisive culture we live in–much of which is fueled by President Trump’s racist anti-Latino rhetoric. “When the president calls [Latinos] rapists and criminals, what do you think is gonna happen?” said one Twitter user in response to the news. “His words have meaning to a lot of people and their actions are harmful for our society.”

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