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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They Made Fun Of Her Accent During A Zoom Meeting But This Latina Councilwoman Clapped Back With Pride

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They Made Fun Of Her Accent During A Zoom Meeting But This Latina Councilwoman Clapped Back With Pride

Have you ever not spoken up out of fear for how people might judge your accent? Or maybe you’ve heard racial comments about how your abuelos or your tías speak?

Well, one Latina councilwoman knows exactly how so many of us feel after having experienced racist comments during a Zoom meeting on racial injustice amid her community’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. But instead of remaining silent, she is urging anyone with an accent, especially Latinos in her community, to speak up and wear it with pride.

A chat about racism led to racist comments about Navarro’s accent.

A Maryland county was hosting a virtual meeting the racial disparities taking place amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, when two people giggled and mocked the accent of the county’s only Latina councilmembers.

During the, Nancy Navarro, a member of the Montgomery County Council, spoke passionately about the county’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, which she said is failing people of color. According to CDC data, Maryland ranks near the bottom when it comes to getting vaccines in people’s arms.

“For me personally, I’ve always had this interesting dilemma in my years of public service, which has been this bizarre disconnect in terms of who we are in Montgomery County,” Navarro, the first Latina and the only woman serving on the council, said. “We’re still perceived as a totally, we’re like some other hologram of a county that doesn’t look anything like who we actually are.” 

As Navarro spoke, there was some chatter and laughter in the background — two people who apparently thought they were muted were talking about Navarro’s accent. 

“I love how her accent comes out and pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced,” one person said, specifically calling out the way Navarro pronounced the words “represent” and “hologram.”

Navarro spoke up and urged anyone with an accent to wear it with pride.

Navarro wasn’t aware that the incident had happened until two staff members notified her of that the employees had said in the background.

“What happened to me on Tuesday was not an isolated incident, it fits a pattern of microaggressions and racist acts that wittingly and unwittingly make the workplace, and by extension, our community spaces hostile spaces for people of color,” Navarro told CBS News.

“Make no mistake, these dysfunctions are deeply ingrained in our county and in our country, racism has become a public health crisis,” Navarro added. “What hurt was that these employees are part of our team, charged with working daily with a diverse team of Council members and staff on initiatives that require a sensitivity to and respect for racial and ethnic differences.”

Since the incident happened, Navarro is urging Latino immigrants with a Spanish accent to “wear it with pride and keep moving forward.”

Navarro’s story is one that so many of us can relate to.

Like so many of us, our friends, and our family, Navarro’s story is one that is widely reflected in our community. She was born in Venezuela but came to the U.S. with her family when she was 10. Her family eventually returned to Venezuela but Navarro came back to the U.S. for college and moved to Maryland with her husband, where they’ve lived since the 1990s. Her story is 100% American.

Navarro hopes that this incident will drive people to consider the impact of their words and actions. And, ultimately, she hopes the council will strengthen its efforts to hire a staff that reflects the diversity in its community.

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Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Things That Matter

Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Don’t call it a total cancellation.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has made the decision of their own accord to no longer publish or license six of the books written and illustrated by the writer Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel. The American children’s author who passed away in 1991 was also a political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), and his book  If I Ran the Zoo (1950) are among the books being pulled as a result of racist and insensitive imagery.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises shared a statement on their website explaining their decision to cancel the publication of the books.

Citing the four other books including McElligot’s Pool (1947), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955) and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) the company explained that they came to the decision citing the fact that they each “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” explained the statement.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a company that, according to Time Magazine, works to preserve and protect “the legacy of the late author and illustrator, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, also noted in the statement that the decision was made over the past year with a panel of experts, including educators, academics, and specialists in the field, who reviewed the catalog of titles.”

Children’s books by Dr. Seuss have long been considered a classic contribution to children’s literature.

The books’ colorful and fun illustrations and rhymes are still to this day instantly recognizable. Recently, however, the writer’s work has been re-examined and scrutinized for racial caricatures and stereotypes. This is especially when it comes to the depictions of Black and Asian people. Many have also pointed out that before he was known as Dr. Seusss, Geisel’s work had been strongly criticized for “drawing WWII cartoons that used racist slurs and imagery, as well as writing and producing a minstrel show in college, where he performed in blackface—a form of entertainment that some children’s literature experts point to as the inspiration for Geisel’s most famous character, the Cat in the Hat.”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s announcement of their decision to pull these books coincided with the anniversary of the writer’s birthday.

Geisel’s birthday coincidentally comes at the same time as National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, which has long been attached to his books,

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