Things That Matter

A White Woman Is Suing Two Black Teachers Claiming Reverse Racism After She Banned Black History Lessons

For the past several years, the country’s educational system has been challenged over what students should be learning in school and, for a good reason. The classes, in particular, history, are antiquated and, even more importantly, incorrect. As a society, we’ve been taught a white version of America’s history, and it’s only when we get to college or continue our studies elsewhere that we begin to discover the truth. But little by little, through education reform, teachers are attempting to change that in order to teach students about the real America and how their ancestors make up the fabric of this country. Some, however, in power positions don’t want that. 

A legal battle has ensued between a Bronx principal and teachers in which both parties are calling each other racist.

Credit: @TravelsWithTony / Twitter

The issue between these two parties began in 2018 when Mercedes Liriano, a teacher at Bronx Intermediate School 224, began teaching her sixth graders about the Harlem Renaissance in her art class during Black History Month. 

Patricia Catania, a white principal of that school at the time, told her to stop the lesson immediately. She took away posters that students were carrying that depicted the image of singer Lena Horne. Catania said that Liriano didn’t approve her lesson plan for Black History Month, but Liriano, a black teacher, said she submitted her entire lesson plan for the year. Furthermore, in an interview with the Washington Post, Liriano said that she has been teaching those lessons during Black History Month for the past 14 years. 

Teachers and parents were so appalled that the principal would prevent the teacher from teaching the Harlem Renaissance during Black History Month that they protested the matter.

Credit: YouTube

The matter last year garnered national attention, and many high-profile black activists got involved. 

“We’re learning about slavery and Harriet Tubman, but she says that I’m an ELA teacher and therefore should not be teaching that,” Liriano said last year to a local news station. “But it’s part of the New York state curriculum.”

While the school board investigated the matter, Catania continued to work at the school. This June, however, Catania got a demotion and was moved to another school just a mile away. She became the assistant principal at a different school. 

Now, months after her demotion, the former principal has filed a lawsuit against three black teachers and the union because she says they falsely accused her of being racist and claims they discriminated against her.

Credit: National Black United Front / Facebook

“There is literally not a racist thought in my head, nor a racist molecule in my body, nor have I ever made a racist comment, or acted in a racist manner in my life,” Catania said in a sworn deposition.

Her lawyer adds, “She’s been portrayed as the villain, but she’s really the victim here,” Anthony Gentile, Catania’s lawyer, said in an interview with the Post. “It was racism, pure and simple, [even though] some people may not see her as sympathetic as when this happens to a brown-skinned person.”

Liriano wrote on Twitter, “Reverse racism does not exist when we were not or have ever been the oppressors! All I have ever done was instill PRIDE! in my students! My children! By teaching them about their rich culture and true stories!!”

We shall see how this matter plays out in court. 

Last year, another Bronx school official was also investigated after she made some of her black students act as slaves so they could endure what they did.

Credit: YouTube

Teacher Patricia Cummings at another Bronx school had some of her black students lay on the floor to reenact a “slave trade — and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like,” The New York Daily News reports.An investigation found that she didn’t do everything she was accused of. She was still fired, and she is also suing the school board for a billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. 

“They’re on the record for saying the reason I’m being terminated is because of my performance as an educator and the report,” Cummings said according to ABC News. “My performance as an educator, I’ve been rated effective by the Department of Education. I’m an effective teacher.”

READ: Students At This High School Apparently Thought It Was OK To Drag A Black Mannequin By A Rope At Their Homecoming Game

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

James Gourley / Flickr

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Things That Matter

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Win McNamee / Getty

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is still in office, despite mounting proof that he harbors white supremacist’s beliefs and numerous politicians and activists calling for his resignation. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” vertical published a series of Miller’s emails leaked by an ex-Breitbart news editor. 

In the emails, Miller expressed fear that DREAMERs would replace white Americans and suggested deporting immigrants on trains to scare them. SPLC’s Michael Hayden says Miller is a supporter of the “great replacement theory” championed by white supremacists who fear white people will become a racial minority. The theory has been echoed in the manifestos of mass shooters and prominent white supremacist leaders. 

Miller believes his fellow Republicans aren’t hard enough on immigrants. 

“Demanding DREAMers be given citizenship because they ‘know no other home.’ That principle is an endorsement of perpetual birthright citizenship for the foreign-born,” Miller wrote in an email.  “Not only will the U.S.-born children of future illegal immigrants and guest workers be made automatic U.S. citizens, but their foreign-born children will too because, as [former Republican House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor said, ‘Our country was founded on the principle.’”

Miller praised Florida’s very own former governor Jeb Bush for his use of moderate rhetoric to push extreme policies. The emails leaked are from around 2015, when Miller was an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being selected by Trump.

 “Jeb [Bush] has mastered the art of using immigration rhetoric to sound ‘moderate’ while pushing the most extremist policies,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh provided over 900 emails to SPLC in which Miller expressed disdain for non-white immigrants. McHugh says she leaked the emails addressed to her from Miller to expose the hidden “evil” of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“In a November 2015 email that Hatewatch has not previously published, Miller forwarded an interview with Phyllis Schlafly from far-right conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that argued undocumented immigrants should be shipped out on trains to ‘scare out the people who want to undo our country,’” according to SPLC. 

25 interfaith groups call for the resignation of Stephen Miller. 

Yesterday, 25 faith groups, among them many prominent Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders including the Anti-Defamation League, The Nation’s Mosque, and African American Ministers in Action, signed a letter calling for Miller’s resignation. 

“Stephen Miller authored many of these destructive policies and helped ensure their enactment via his network of anti-immigrant officials throughout the federal government. Further, these policies have been paired with heightened and unrelenting anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the White House,” the organizations said. 

The group also called out the Trump administration for allowing white supremacist views in the White House. 

“At one point in history, harboring a white supremacist in the White House could harm an administration. Today, President Trump appears unbothered by his close official’s ties to white supremacy. This cannot stand. As organizations of many faiths, who feel love and respect where Miller advances disdain and hate, we call for his resignation immediately,” the letter stated

Last November 100 lawmakers demanded Stephen Miller resign. 

Miller has been in the hot seat for a while. Last year 100 lawmakers demanded the advisor’s resignation, a couple of weeks ago 25 Jewish members of congress joined that call following Rolling Stone’spublication of a different set of leaked emails that further establish his support of xenophobic ideas. 

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any presidential administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the 100 representatives wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Miller’s white supremacist influence on your immigration policy, and it seems like that his perfidious adherence to extremist ideology has shaped your administration in ways that are not yet public.”

In the Rolling Stone emails, Miller called refugees “foreign-born terrorists” and expressed a fondness for a book called “Camp of Saints” which is a favorite of neo-Nazis.

“The dystopian 1973 novel is widely regarded as racist and traffics in fear-mongering about immigrant invasions. It is popular among white nationalist circles and has been invoked by former White House aide Steve Bannon and Iowa Congressman Steve King,” according to Newsweek

Other emails show Miller is using his influence in the White House to coordinate anti-immigration policies that reflect his views. 

“In the emails, [senior advisor at ICE Jon] Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda,” according to Rolling Stone

While Miller has still not resigned, the pressure is continuing to mount in Congress and among activists.