Monday, October 10, 2016

The Battle Continues

 Wildwood new Mega School project on the November 8th ballot

From: Debbie Westmoreland 
Date: September 28, 2016 at 10:04:02 AM EDT
To: Anastasia Ordonez , Cara Castenson , Emily Marriott , Katherine Appy , Phoebe Hazzard , Stephen Sullivan , Tara Luce , Trevor Baptiste , Vira Douangmany 
Cc: Michael Morris 
Subject: Fwd: My Concerns
 

Dear School Committee Members:
 

I grew up in Amherst and am an ARHS alumna as well as my son. I am extremely active with the Hurricane Athletic Boosters and am on the Board of A Better Chance (ABC) House. Although I do not currently have children in our schools, I am deeply involved with funding programs which benefit many students. I am proud of our schools, teachers, programs and especially our students! 

I am also a business professional in Amherst - specifically a Realtor. Realtors promote our community and all of its amenitiesto families, young professionals, and retirees who wish to settle here. Realtors greatly depend upon the viability of the public schools to sell our community and create confidence around a major home purchase. 

Over the past three years I have witnessed the dysfunction of the school committees (Regional, Amherst and Pelham). The infighting amongst members and the negative press our public schools are receiving in the Hampshire Gazette/Amherst Bulletinas a result is horrifying! 


It is abominable to think that the personal agendas of a few members has created this major schism in what was once a stable, collaborative and mindful group. To listen to self-proclaimed activists destroy our schools and community is deplorable. 

These so-called activists are simply masquerading under the guise of commitment, but in reality are intent on destroying Amherst. In particular, I blame two members for the demise of school committee credibility ____________and Vira Cage should be ashamed of themselves! 

I must remind you that your actions and decisions reflect greatly upon the economy and growth of our community. As a long-time Amherst resident and Realtor, it is becoming extremely difficult to accept a school committee system that is so broken. I no longer want to explain to clients and potential residents the school committee “situation” that is reported in the media. I much prefer to focus on the strengths of our community’s public schools. 


I implore all school committee members to be mindful of the community, public schools, teachers and students at all times. As elected officials, please listen to constituents and stop listening to yourselves! 



Respectfully,



Karen S Dunn



#####

Vira Douangmany Cage response posted to Facebook:

I wrestled with sharing this public document but I think it is more important for people to see what folks of color experience when we challenge the status quo...even in a progressive community like Amherst. I redacted the other school committee of color named and cell phone numbers.


On Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 11:06 AM, wrote:


Dear Ms. Dunn:

Thank you for writing in below. I am glad you are so open about your view and expressing them in such a public way. That takes courage and commitment.


Thank you for sharing your philanthropic causes to help the ABC House and our athletes.


Thank you for sharing that negative media attention is destroying Amherst and our schools and thank you for feeling so comfortable in naming me as your scapegoat.


I know your confidence comes from a very powerful and entrenched place of privilege in this community.
While I welcome your comments, I am not clear about what specifically you are shaming me for?


Are you shaming me because I support Amherst small schools and voted against the elementary school grade reconfiguration and consolidation plan? Many white homeowners are not happy and have said they will remove their children from our public schools if the mega-school proposal goes through. 


I like preserving our K-6 elementary schools (what is left!) don't you? The people of color I know don't like it either. Marks Meadow was a gem but parents lost that struggle.

Are you shaming me for calling our school committee to successfully restore the paraeducator positions that were set to be eliminated in our elementary school
libraries?


Are you shaming me for attempting to protect the public's money in voting against our previous school superintendent buy-out? Certainly, it wasn't my personal money I was giving away.


Are you shaming me for standing up for a particular mom of color from Pelham? I think it is a mistake to dismiss her plight because there is an assumption she has no money or social capital and therefore we can get away with the oppression and vilification and violation of her civil rights.


I read your letter, however, I am not understanding your basis for your public condemnation.


Feel free to clarify.


Have a great day!


Best,
Vira Douangmany Cage


Amherst School Committee
Term 2015-2018


80 comments:

Anonymous said...

This so-called "Shamer" is one of those "Big Spenders"..he freely admits he spends his life playing with others in the community's money-must be nice-too bad everyone can't share in the benefits of such a playboy existence..I might add-if you have property in the community-I do-then you might want to keep it-isn't that the point? High property turnover and high taxes are his forte-what a sell out-doubt this is about "Quality education" or " For the kids" for him-it's about GREED..for the REAL community-it's about getting both a quality of life-and education-not about having the construction trade or soaking people to generate revenue-and real estate turnover..our bad..huH ??

Larry Kelley said...

I believe the "shamer" is a she.

Anonymous said...

Every time I'm nostalgic for my small hometown all I have to do is read about the mega school, SI, and school board fiasco to lock that gem of a childhood away and make sure I protect my children by not moving back to the community and subjecting them to what appears to be a continually decreasing public school education! One I dearly LOVED. Somers CT reminded me of Amherst minus the students and crazy taxes. But I personally loved the college town feel and have not found that in my travels.

Enough is enough, bring in a mayor to sort this out and put Amherst back on track. The town has grown large enough to warrant a specific, accountable, leader. Not a collection of finger pointing selectboard reps who appear powerless, or even in the employee of the SC and former SI, while the community and school suffers.

Anonymous said...

Women are less capable of evil than men?

Anonymous said...

I for one am fed up with Vira and Trevor making everything about race. They indeed are the root cause of the dysfunction and it has nothing to do with their race and everything to do with their behavior.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:19, agreed every time these people speak they bring up race. This is not the problem (period). Lets get rid of these these people that poison the SC. And at the same time move on to something better.

Anonymous said...

Hey Vira,

Your behavior on the school committee is at best amateurish and at worst bullying. You were brand new to the SC, let loose with a clear, documented history of out of control behavior and are the reason our district paid $309,000.00 to the last superintendent. Have you ever thought about learning how to do a job before you start running roughshod over the entire organization? You may have good intentions but you don't have a clue how to act professionally to accomplish anything? A school committee jiob calls for diplomacy most of the time. In that arena you are clearly clueless.

Anonymous said...

People talk about having an open discussion about race but you can't really. And anon 4:19...you are not really allow to comment on any POC behavior.

Anonymous said...

What does the phrase POC behavior mean? Does it mean something different than a generic person behavior? How about the idea that there are certain norms of behavior for members of public bodies? And no there are not two separate norms of behavior dependent on what color you are. So I ask again. What is POC behavior?

Anonymous said...

To all you WRFA trolls - This OWG thinks Vira and Trevor are two of the kindest, smartest and most dedicated SC members we've ever had. So, STFU!

Anonymous said...

Please tell us why do you white female liberal progressive democrats hate people of color so much?

Anonymous said...

The behavior of these two has caused three SC members to quit in disgust. I don't care what color they are. They could be purple with pink polka dots. Their behavior stands in the way of a functional school committee. Their screaming and yelling during meetings has left SC members in tears. This is not how a public body is supposed to function. They are not fit for public office. If they were white and behaved in the manner they have behaved I'd say the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Remember how people attacked Rivkin and Sanderson and Anderson? Seems like anyone who questions anything is vilified. Not looking at details, facts, votes-just go on the attack and then blame them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 806
Do you really think it's OK for SC members to yell and scream at their colleagues during meetings. To threaten them if they don't vote their way? To vote for something illegal in fact. Is that the behavior you want to see in your public officials?

Anonymous said...



The hissing, don't forget the hissing..................

Vera hissing from the audience as people tried to speak.



So rude.

Anonymous said...

No where does this letter call out race of the individual. Just actions. If we as a community want to start to get past race issues, we as a community need to stop hiding behind it. Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 10:23 am, nothing so damages legitimate racial grievances as much as people who cry "Racist!!!" when called out on their bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Amherst voters willingness to vote for people they thought were running for school committee for the right reason, we voted in Cage and Baptiste. We made a mistake. We did not know they were "social justice activists" who are only interested in using the platform of the school committee to further their own interests, both politically and career-wise.

Let's face it... we thought we were doing the right thing in voting for them and know we know we were wrong. And if they weren't "social justice activists" we'd be abel to criticize their performance and poor behavior, but because they ARE "social justice activists", we can't criticize them without them instantly declaring anyone who does so a racist. Now, I don't think anyone wants to be labeled a racist, particularly when they are not, so most of us remain silent and just regret our past votes.

BUT, there is a solution. We should all take our enforced silence by these two "social justice advocates" to the polls and vote for whoever is their opponent the next time they are up for re-election. It will not solve our problems now, and we are just going to have to suffer through all of the shenanigans they pull and put our town through in until their terms are up. But we can fix this problem, the same we created it. With our votes.

So, if anyone else feels like I do, and regrets having put them in office and regrets not being able to criticize them as we would any other politician we felt was behaving poorly, then let's solve this problem. It won't happen overnight. We just have to wait until each of them is up for reelection. In the meantime, we will have to do what these "social justice activists" want and remain silent so that they cannot divide our town further than they already have. At least we now we have an eventual solution and and end to this awful situation. I hope that what I think is a very large silent majority will speak loudly at each of their next elections and put our children's educations back in responsible hands.

Anonymous said...

With Appy & crew et al panhandling for more union largesse - and thus making the mega -school stink - it seems the booster cabal is what would be selling out " education" for all that glitters-is gold-mentality -think about it ....

Anonymous said...

Are there any people of color on here that feel Vira and Trevor's behavior has been inappropriate? If so, please speak up.
I tend to agree with a lot of what Vira has stood up for, and have appreciated her voice in these matters (mega school, library paras, Geryk's payout), but I have found her approach at meetings to be combative rather than conciliatory and civil.
Is this a case of perspective or perception, that what I feel is overly aggressive is felt by POC to be acceptable?

Anonymous said...

Baptiste lives in Pelham.

Anonymous said...

How can screaming at and threatening your colleagues ever be considered acceptable behavior, Anon 206?
I don't think people need to be necessarily conciliatory but they certainly need to be civil. And Vira and Trevor are frequently not civil.

Anonymous said...

Why is Trevor's name omitted and replaced with a blank line?

Anonymous said...

I agree that everyone should be civil with each other. There's a discrepancy though between what I am reading on here in response to this post, and what is in the comments on Vira's Facebook post of the same letter. All the comments on FB are supportive of all that she does, and are outraged at this letter, and the fact that some people are blaming Vira and Trevor for the SC dysfunction.
I'm just trying to understand why we react so differently. Is their behavior considered justified because of the negative experiences of some POC in Amherst?

Anonymous said...

To Anon 2:06 and Everyone.

THIS is the problem... calling upon only people of color to criticize Cage and Baptiste. ANY person should be able to criticize their poor and disruptive behavior and their campaign of destruction of what was a good school system and will hopefully be again, in spite of their selfish efforts to direct attention to themselves and further their careers in politics... albeit a pretty interesting pipe dream, based on their abilities to work with others.

And the problem here was not in voting in people of color... it's quite the opposite. Many people and parents of color in town would be wonderful representatives on the school committee. The problem is these two specific people who prayed on our better angels by claiming to want to do things for our children. Our children are and always will be the weak link for all of when it comes to politicians who want our vote and will do and say anything to get it. There was no way to know that was their motive and so we did the right thing. Those of us who believed in their campaigns voted for them.

Well, now I don't think many people believe in them any more. At least not fair-minded people, of any and every color and nationality and religion. So, please, fair-minded people of Amherst and Pelham... in the next election where each of these two disruptive influences will up for re-election, please remember all of the grandstanding and showboating at the expense of our schools and our kids. Remember it and vote for someone who is opposing them... actually, ANYONE who is opposing them because anyone would be better than either of them. And please consider candidates that are people of color along with ones who are not: both are capable of doing good things and not being interested in furthering careers as "social justice activists". Most will just want to be good school committee persons and that is what we need to have again. People of all colors and religions who are of good heart and able to work with other people of good heart towards the goal that we all want: a better school system that is only about our kids. Let's put some sanity and kindness back in our school committee along with some intelligence and creative thinking. Vote for one of their opponents in the next elections. That's the only way we are going to ever get out of this mess.

Anonymous said...

You are not allowed to question the bad behavior of any POC without being called racist. There will never be true racial dialog because who wants to be labeled a racist? Permanent self-victemhood only Hurts POC. You cry wolf too many times and people start taking you less seriously.

Anonymous said...

clinton so-called "progressive democrat" bullies like story, geryk and appy scare me much more than trump...can't tell if they have more hatred for children, blacks or men...help!!!

Michael Burkart said...

Here is the actual link to Vira's Facebook page.

https://m.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1070284226418184&id=100003098497029

You can read the letter from Ms. Dunn as well as Vira's response. In addition, you can read the comments people have posted about their experience with realtors and race in Amherst. Marielena Garcia, a Latina realtor who worked at Jones Realty, discusses how she saw race play out among other realtors with whom she worked.

Anonymous said...

Our country has had problems accepting other than white people for its entire history. Much of our economy was built on slave labor, so the race problem isn't new. Does that open the door for Vira to kick and scream about it as a member of the school committee?Nothing will get accomplished with that kind of approach. The problem here isn't with Vira's skin tone; it is with her tone of voice. She's a screamer, verbally assaulting her way through school committee business. You can bet the farm that I won't be voting for Vira to hold any office for as long as I can get to the voting booth. I want school committee members who are interested in solving problems effectively, not people like Vira who make them worse.

Michael Burkart, do you think screaming is a good approach to problem solving? If so, why aren't you screaming for all these years you have been trying to help solve problems.

Anonymous said...

Of course Vira's "friends" on facebook are going to support her. The bigger issue is that the community is getting tired of her divisive tactics. She may have some important points to make about racial equity (although she ignores other diverse members of the community) but her yelling, shaming and "community activist" stance rings false and it simply looks like she is trying to forward her own personal agenda and political career. It's certainly not the way to help the community have difficult and important discussions. If Karen Dunn can't express her views without being called "racist" how is that helping people come forward and have this discussion?

Anonymous said...

There is another woman of color on the SC and she is a very effective and thoughtful SC member. She is not being criticized. This is an additional indication that the issues people have with Vira have nothing to do with her race. When Vira yells racism every time someone criticizes her that in itself is a racist act.

William Lloyd Garrison said...

Maybe if the people of Amherst weren't so monolithically liberal this wouldn't be a problem.

Laura Quilter said...

I have been to a number of School Committee meetings, and watched tape of quite a few others. I have not seen Vira "screaming". I'm not sure where these allegations are coming from, but given the false statements made elsewhere about Trevor Baptiste, I would urge people to treat allegations from anonymous sources as just that.

Anonymous said...

This blog also plays a HUGE role in the declining reputation of the community. I too have had to explain to clients what is going on, after they read this blog.

Personally, I like it, but for the schools, kids, businesses and town government, it is a clear negative.

Remember how nice preinternet Amherst was?

PS - the only explanation I can give on ALL fronts is greed. Greed in the schools, greed by the reporters, greed by the government....let's not pretend that the RE agents are not some of the greediest. Then let's not pretend greed is bad.

Larry Kelley said...

One of the things I find so amusing about that charge is here we now have a half dozen citizens wishing to be appointed to the School Committee yet Cowardly Anon Nitwits insist this toxic blog is scaring away those who wish to serve.

And since the open hot seat on the Amherst School Committee pays zero I don't think we will have much trouble getting a bevy of contenders for the open Superintendent seat since it is the highest paid position in town.

And for a lowly blogger I have covered more School Committee meetings over the past two years (as in actually attending said meetings) than the Gazette and Republican combined, and I have never seen Mr. Baptiste or Ms. Cage "scream."

Anonymous said...

Shaming doesn't work. Just witness the Democrat Party. They simply do not care that their nominee is a compulsive bald-faced liar.

Anonymous said...

Good God, listen to you people railing against "social justice advocates" pushing their "agendas" on the schools. Do you hear yourselves? Are you capable of critical thought? I would like MORE social justice advocates on the school committee, not fewer! They are the people advocating for fairness and equity in the system, for our children and our teachers and our town. Perhaps if their work had not been so grossly obstructed by Ma. Geryk and some of her sycophants on the school committee, we wouldn't have this mess on our hands and Ms. Dunn would be able to sell her houses and grab her commissions. As it is, I remain disgusted by self-serving people like Ms. Dunn who perpetuate the problems and declining reputation of this town by pointing fingers out of pure ignorance and privilege. Look no further than the mirror, Ms. Dunn, to see the real cause of your diminishing property sales.

Anonymous said...

Laura,
All you need to do is ask a SC member if Vira screams and berates her colleagues in meetings. The most outrages behavior is usually reserved for executive sessions or in public meetings when the camera is not running. Even in public sessions I have seen her respond very angrily when there was no reason to do so. She shouts out and interrupts the chair and speaks out of turn. In all the years I have watched public meetings in Amherst this is the first time I have observed such egregious behavior. It serves no one.

Anonymous said...

Tell that to Lucretia Borgia, Madame Nu, or HR Clinton.

Anonymous said...

It was Obama who made everything about race.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 10:17 AM

If a School Committee member told you about things that happen in executive session, that is a violation of law.

Anonymous said...

What the hell do all these acronyms mean? Are we supposed to guess?

Anonymous said...

No violation of law if minutes were officially released. As opposed to the leaking of minutes.

Anonymous said...

All lives apparently don't matter. Just black lives. And black lives apparently don't matter to other blacks who kill each other at an astronomical rate.

Larry Kelley said...

If I remember correctly from covering Every. Single. One. of those executive session meetings, Mr. Baptiste wanted to record them and he was turned down by the Chair.

Anonymous said...

People who cry Racist are racist. And if you call me a racist, I will accuse you of hate speech.

Anonymous said...

Social justice? How about plain old everyday justice. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Was 10:17 in these executive sessions? A school committee member commenting anonymously? Who are you and what are your sources of information?

Anyone reading the BOLDAmherst website or facebook page or listening to advocates of the $65 million new elementary school would either pull their kids out or never enroll them in Amherst elementary schools. They would make you believe Wildwood and Fort River have a toxic stew of unhealthy air causing constant illness, molds everywhere, unteachable classrooms, and deplorable conditions. Funny, I never heard these vivid descriptions in Town Meeting or at school committee meetings.

People should actually visit the schools which are nice and calm and filled with great kids and hardworking teachers. And yes, the goofy open classrooms are not the best but they are workable. Thousands of students have been taught in them.

Anonymous said...

Calling someone racist is so common that it has no meaning. But I consider it hate speech. Thanks Barry. Now stay tuned, if Hilligula gets in, for a minimum of 4 years of being called a sexist, homophobe, islamophobe, etc., etc. Just as she's aleady begun calling millions of Americans.

Anonymous said...

Have you not heard? Slavery has been over for a century and a half. Our economy has been slave-labor-free for all that time. Enough. No one is a slave or slave owner. No reparations are forthcoming. Maybe Egypt should make reparations to the Jews. Not gonna happen.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, I am not aware of any law that prevents a SC member from discussing an Exec Session. It may be a scummy thing to do, but not "illegal."

The only law is one permitting them to NOT discuss it.

If I'm wrong, a MGL cite would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

WHO CARES WHAT COLOR THESE PEOPLE ARE? If they suck, they suck. Get their asses outta there.

Anonymous said...

Liberal? I think that marxist might be a better term. lol

Anonymous said...

Mental problems.

Anonymous said...

Why are you interested in "social" justice? Justice alone suffices.

Anonymous said...

If Appy's agenda is to push an incompetent settlement with Gardener / Geryk and a most $100 million redundant out of touch mega-school down taxpayers throat without doubt or debate - then this whole ORDEAL is HER STINK !!!!

Anonymous said...

I have taught both in Wildwood and Ft. River and they are anything but nice and calm. Especially Ft. River which houses Building Blocks-a hidden program that attempts to educate-more like babysits- children with extreme emotional trauma backgrounds. Parents should-have a right to--know-if these children are sitting amongst your own. Classrooms-for the majority of the time may appear calm-but too often-in every setting-cafeteria, gym, playground, there is always one or more students running the show. Don't be fooled-The quads are a bad idea-always have been-always will. It is an exceptional teacher-one whose health is constantly compromised-who can teach in this environment. Where is the research of those "Thousands of students who have been taught in them." as to their current health status? If a child is crying -and they do cry-all day sometimes-or tantrums-and they do this too in school-the whole quad hears it-experiences it--This is not a calm or nice setting. And the poor air quality and excess mold should have long closed down these buildings. Child neglect charges brought against an administration that continues to allow our children to be at risk, while their pockets bulge, is the only way to go.

Anonymous said...

Just because it was brought up, forced labor is part of our community, unless you are a hermit.

If you buy retail products, you pay sales tax which the store owner is forced to collect and pay your tax, account for and take responsibility for, again unless both parties are hermits. Sales tax is a tax on the consumer where a third party must do labor to complete the process.

If you are involved in employment or do business with those that are, you are involved in forced labor. Employers are forced to collect and remit, with accounting and responsibility, their employee's income taxes. A third party is forced to do the employee's.

Why have third parties do it. The second party is more likely to cheat...but we made laws against this...amendments even. But average shoppers and workers are not trustworthy...kind of insulting actually.

Perhaps less taxes and convert to private schools with obamacare style funding...it is the most advanced public funding system ever. Never hear about these issues with private schools.

Anonymous said...

Go ahead. Call me a racist. I like my race best.. Mongoloid and proud.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken it was Vira who pushed for settlement with Gardner.

Awake said...

Slavery as the industry it once was in this country is over but slavery is not over. 13th amendment made way for slavery to be legal in response to crime...roll out the prison industrial complex. I recommend watching the movie 13 on Netflix. Also there are many trafficked individuals suffering as sex slaves, domestic workers, and field hands in this country right now.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is sad to continue to see two individuals identified through this whole process but I ask why no one would even give the second thought to the lack of professionalism and characters they bring to the committee? Why do we never ask ourselves that maybe they aren't doing their job? Instead we immediately identify them because of the color of their skin. This is perpetuating an endless "battle" between our communities instead of people getting the work done that needs to be accomplished.

We then instill fear into other (usually white) community members and officials in questioning their intentions and actions (white privilege) instead of working together to find a way to support our community and move together through these processes and "tough talks".

I call for the rise in respecting HUMANITY!!! Get on board people!

Amherst is no more inclusive and progressive then a machine with a stick stuck in it....

Anonymous said...

The only person who keeps making this all about color is Vira. She only sees things through one lens.

Rick Hood said...

It’s really amazing the things people say who claim to have “witnessed” something, but really have no clue, and get all their facts from “I heard this or that”, and/or an often not-much-better source, the Gazette, which likes to sell controversy, like a lot of the press does.

In my 6 years on the committee, there was never any “screaming”, by anyone. Sure there were disagreements, so what?

Here’s the problem with the school committee:

1. There is an “invisible hand” that tends to squelch debate, usually, but not always, if it is against what a Superintendent wants to do. There is an “oh, you can’t talk about that” quality that hangs over meetings sometimes. I felt it.

2. Some SC members do not prepare by doing fact-finding before throwing things out there at a meeting like “I heard this or that”. The has the effect of making #1 worse. And it pisses people off when an SC member assumes the worst, instead of finding out if something “they heard” actually happened.

SC meetings need to be more open to debate; the kind that allow all to be heard, following Roberts Rules (those exist for a reason).

SC members need to not assume the worst. But of course, bring things up for debate when they find credible evidence of an issue.

Felicia Sevene said...

I find this forum very disturbing in that people make a wide range of assumptions, pass blame, call out individuals by name and accuse them of a variety of negative behaviors, yet nearly every single post is anonymous, so that no one knows who is making these claims/accusations. Is there some way to identify oneself? It doesn't appear to be obvious how to do that. These are serious charges and allegations that are being tossed about. Under the circumstances, the appropriate thing to do is to identify oneself, especially since some people address certain people directly.

Nina Koch said...

Felicia, people certainly have the option to identify themselves (as you did). They tend not to do so because they don't want to take responsibility for what they say. Some make arguments about retaliation and so forth, but for the most part, I don't buy that. Most people are not in a position to be subject to retaliation. My theory is that many people don't want to admit that they read Larry's blog.

I agree with you that there are many disturbing comments here and it seems almost impossible to have a reasonable conversation about race. I believe it's because people are working with different definitions, so they end up talking past each other.

Felicia Sevene said...

That was my feeling too, Nina. People hide behind "anonymous." It's much more helpful to be able to have an open and honest conversation if people take the risks of revealing themselves. These are not easy conversations to have, but I believe that all the hard work would be worth the effort in the long run. Blaming and name-calling -- especially while remaining anonymous -- do nothing to advance the conversation, but perhaps a conversation is not really what some people are looking for. Hard to know, really.

Anonymous said...

Blaming and name - calling by Anons? That is the problem? As long as Vira sees EVERY criticism thru a black/white lens is a huge problem! It will be impossible to have conversations about race with folks like Vira. She is not interested in conversations. She is only interested in agitation.

Anonymous said...

Of course - Some people- the union cheerleader booster nut's-hide a "Soak and screw the taxpayer " bad -A attitude behind the red flag codex " It's for the kids " or " I am schoolboard " Ya Think ??!$@$$

Anonymous said...

Based on Cage's new message on the front of this blog post about "white people privilege" I would suggest that we all exercise our AMERICAN privilege to have better people representing us on the school committee by voting for whoever opposes Cage in the next election. The answer to this problem is so simple. Just vote her out. And then she is gone. She will never be elected to another position of responsibility by the Amherst voters because of her behavior on the school committee. We may be good natured people who can be fooled once, but most us can't be fooled twice.

And to Felicia and Nina, the reason people won't put their names on here is very simple. Cage has proven herself to always go to race on any criticism and no one wants to have to argue with someone like that. How do you prove you're not racist? It's one of those awful accusations that people throw around when they have no argument or personal integrity. I understand why people don't want to use their names. And look at many of the posts here. They are not criticizing Cage's ethnicity, it's her behavior and that she is not capable of the responsibility she was given. This is not about race. It's about not hurting the school system and children to further one's own political ambitions, as laughable as they may be.

Nina Koch said...

People don't even use their names when they are complimenting Larry on his drone pictures. What could be the explanation for that anonymity?

As for a phrase like "white privilege," I think that is a good example of a place where people are using different definitions. I heard a very helpful definition once at a workshop at school and I will share it here: privilege means freedom from consideration. It means if I go to a store, I don't consider "Will I be followed in this store?". I am free from that consideration. Other people are not free from that consideration. The privilege is not something I choose, not something I try to wield over other people intentionally.

A lot of the problem in these discussions, I feel, centers on the issue of intention. If I make a racist statement, it doesn't mean I intended to do so. I doesn't mean I am David Duke. It means I am subject to implicit bias just like everybody else in this society and that sometimes the associations of that implicit bias will cause me to see things in a certain way. When I think about it more or when someone responds to me pointing out a new way to see it, I realize that what I said furthers a system of domination that I don't believe in. It doesn't mean I am a bad person. In fact, if I take the time to reflect, I think that makes me a good person.

Anonymous said...

And in Vira's eyes, Nina, that makes you a racist.

Anonymous said...

Vira and anyone else who wants to see it:

Find the video tape of the school committee meeting from fall 2015 when a woman defending the HS principal was booed and hissed by a standing room only crowd. That was the night an Iman from Springfield told the school committee to reflect on how Jesus would treat Carolyn Gardner, a fairly memorable meeting.

Vira, you are on that video tape near the front row, booing and hissing with passion when this woman was trying to read a statement at the microphone during the public comment. I'm sure the SC meeting regulars remember that meeting very well, Larry Kelley. Doesn't every voice in the community deserve a chance to stand at the microphone and speak her mind? You didn't care, Vira, because in your mind everything about the Carolyn Gardner problem was the fault of school administrators. You presumed a lot based on what?

So go ahead and deny all you want, but the video tape doesn't lie.

Anonymous said...

A clear negative? Why? According to...?

Anonymous said...

The racists are those who accuse others of being same.

Anonymous said...

Enough!!! I'm begging you!!

Mistaken identity said...

Go view it again, you've got a case of mistaken identity. Do Asians all look alike? Hilarious! Ellen Story was told this too, too, too bad! Cross racial witness identifications are not reliable.

Anonymous said...

http://onlyintherepublicofamherst.blogspot.com/2014/11/colorful-amherst-theater.html?m=1

Where is Vira?

Anonymous said...

"...our message, our communication, must effectively ring loud and clear and hit nerves in thunderous, clamoring, unceasing and destabilizing storms for you."

What does this even mean?

Anonymous said...

Lol. It means the speaker or writer has taken too many drugs.