A Point-by-Point Rebuttal Against Anti-Anti-Racism (aka, A Rebuttal on Behalf of Anti-Racism)

On June 23, 2020, the school board in our little Oregon town passed an Anti-Racism Resolution (see screenshot at the bottom of this post). The vote was 5-1. Five voted yes. One was unable to attend the meeting but sent a message of support. And one board member voted no.

That no vote was from the board member who represents my area of the school district. And I’ve spent every day since trying to simultaneously find out why and also ask him to rescind that vote and support anti-racism in our schools because that’s what people of color in our district are asking us to do.

Dave Brown is widely loved around these parts. He has positive relationships with current and former students. He’s a coach and a friend. He retired with a happy legacy in place. And so the backlash was swift and severe when I started to push back on his no vote. 

I get it. Folks around here have felt I was on an Attack Dave mission. And, although my focus is now and has always been a Champion Kids and Equity mission, I understand it’s difficult to see one’s friends be questioned and challenged in public forums. I’ve been asked to calm down (I felt very calm), sit down, be patient (I think I was too patient, to be honest), and, based on his years working in our district, trust that Dave has the best interests of our students at heart. 

And I’m here to say no.

I know this is unpleasant for some folks to read, but no.

I’m zero percent concerned about being calm. I’m calm at the moment. I’ve been calm throughout the process. But calmness is not a virtue. Calmness is not righteousness. Calmness is not justice. Calmness is not loving my neighbors (including Dave) as myself. So calmness is not a value nor is it something I’ll be elevating on my radar. I will be truthful. I will be measured. And I will, in concert with truth and thoughtfulness, be alternately calm and outraged. 

And as far as sitting down, being patient, and trusting my elected leadership, the answer is also no. I get that my silence makes folks more comfortable. I get that people don’t see the urgency of anti-racism and therefore don’t understand unwillingness to wait or the unfairness of waiting. I get that it bucks the systems I’ve grown up in — systems dominated by white male leadership in church, government, on boards, and in employment — and that I’m perceived as “aggressive,” or “the mob,” or “mean” because I value pointing out where folks are being harmed above protecting the feelings of our leaders. It is my job and responsibility as a constituent and a community member to agitate for justice. And historically “be patient” and “trust your nice leaders” benefits the folks in power and keeps those who are marginalized silenced. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” And so I’m willing to be viewed unfavorably in order to keep leaders accountable to their constituents. That’s my job. Push for fairness and equity. And push for it now. 

Two nights ago, our school board held a listening session for the public to make comments on the Anti-Racism Resolution, and Dave Brown shared a 3000+ word response regarding why he voted no.

Below, I’m sharing his response in full, as well as my in-line (point by point) response to it. I believe even more strongly than before that Dave Brown’s no vote was wrong, that it does not represent the majority of his constituents, that it more importantly does not promote justice and equity for the children in our district, and that he should rescind it. He voted no based on flawed logic, conflating the Anti-Racism Resolution with things it does not state. And he has exhibited a recalcitrant unwillingness to listen to constituents of color. Dave, as you will see from his statement, is anti-Anti-Racism (which is not to say he’s pro-racism, but which is to say he has not heard the need to be anti-racist.) This is my rebuttal against his anti-Anti-Racism. 

Dave’s statement is in the regular font. My in-line comments are in blue.

Sending love and hoping for a more equitable world,

 

 

 


From: Dave Brown, Newberg School District School Board Member for Zone 6
Subject: My No Vote on the Newberg School Board Resolution on Anti-Racism

With recent events unfolding, I have been hearing from you, my constituents, that you would like a broader explanation of my no vote on the Newberg School Board’s 2020-04 “Anti-Racism” resolution. As many of you may know, due to technical issues during the vote, I was unable to comment on my decision during the July 23rd board meeting. Today I would like to explain the decision I made as a public servant, as I believe full transparency in matters of such importance, are necessary.

I have committed the majority of my life to working with and supporting youth and our community as a coach, mentor, Newberg School District employee, volunteer, and now as part of the School Board. In my 20 years of public service in the Newberg School District and more than 30 years of direct interaction with thousands of youth in the Newberg community I have prided myself on ensuring the importance, safety, and development of all individuals regardless of race, gender, age or background. I have always lived my life this way, will continue to do so as long as I live, and expect the same from my community.

My voting against this resolution has been perceived by many as a denial of racism’s existence or an outright condoning of racism. We are all too quick to draw the conclusion that, “A vote against this “anti-racism” resolution, means you must be racist or condone racism.”

The paragraph above is a response to Dave’s perception of others’ responses to his no vote. This in no way explains the initial no vote. It is also a deflection from the words of those of us who have challenged his position. He appears to be unable to differentiate challenging a public position and the vote of an elected official charged with representing his constituents — an action that results in continued harm and racism toward people of color in our community — from personal attacks. We the people must bear the responsibility of keeping our elected officials accountable to our full community. That is what we’re doing in challenging Dave’s no vote.  

I consider this reflexive reaction one of the main issues we face today in our country. The breakdown of our ability to have objective, nuanced, and open-minded discussions about critical and highly complex issues is a major downfall of our current society and, in my opinion, the primary reason for the polarization of our country.

Stating a non-popular, dissenting or divergent opinion in our society today is no small matter.

It will likely result in hate-filled responses, character attacks, censorship or even violence. This is a sad reality of our current culture.

We have the freedom to speech by inalienable right, but we are failing to remember that right comes with the responsibility to listen and try to understand. If all we do is preach and speak at each other and no one is on the other side to listen or try to understand then what is the point? We have to consciously and proactively want to, and encourage, rational discussion between opposing viewpoints as well as honest self-reflection and the challenging of our own viewpoints and biases. Myself included, most especially when considering such high gravity issues as that of racism. If we don’t, if we cancel, if we blindly renounce, if we attack character and not content then our world will nose dive into extremes and polarization.

Again, the four paragraphs above are a response to Dave’s perception of others’ responses to his no vote. This in no way explains the no vote. It’s also sadly ironic that Dave is asking for others to listen and understand when that is, in fact, exactly what he is failing to do with people of color.

By voting against this resolution I am in no way condoning racism or diminishing its impact on certain communities, but rather my disagreement with the approach, methods, and message this resolution sends to our community. I also disagree with the viability of the resolution to affect meaningful change in our community and the assumption of the resolution that we are not already committed to these goals in our community. This seems to be a gesture without any verifiable action plan or solutions.

Isn’t this literally what the board does? Passes policy? Are there usually detailed action plans in policies? What isn’t viable about the resolution’s statement to thoroughly review “policies, practices, and district cultural norms”? Is Dave opposed to that method and approach? A resolution is merely a first step in taking action. Resolutions are not complete action plans or solutions… they are a step in a larger process… and Dave’s failure to understand what a resolution is and does is problematic in a board member whose job it is to enact policy.

Dave is saying above (and throughout this statement) that we’re already committed enough to opposing racism as a school district and we don’t need to do anything further — despite people of color (POC) telling us otherwise in every way they can. It is striking to have a white man in leadership so thoroughly discount voices of POC and say everything’s already fine.

While our country, like every other country has a checkered past, we have made some incredible and unprecedented strides towards combating many issues of oppression and equality, but I also believe that we have plenty more work to do, and likely, always will.

Agreed — so why is Dave opposing a resolution that will do more work on combating oppression?

However, I believe that much of the currently promoted ideology around racism and race relations is rooted in a very narrow and unnuanced understanding of what is obviously a very complex and emotionally loaded topic. The current public debate around race relations is not one that I think is being had in a constructive way. There are a bevy of nuanced thoughts that are not being heard and in general, detract from some of the very difficult conversations that we must have. With this in mind, I am continuing to listen and learn from other perspectives.

Dave should be reviewing resolutions based on their content, not on his political understanding of outside ideology. His inability to judge the resolution based on its own words and his insistence on reading the “current public debate” into it is a concern.

I fully believe the intent of this resolution was coming from a good place and with benevolent intent; the intent to put a stop to the wrongs and ills that racism and bigotry have caused and still are causing in our country.

If the above is, in fact, true — if Dave fully believes the intent was to put a stop to the wrongs and ills that racism and bigotry cause — then he should have voted for it UNLESS the language included ideas with which he doesn’t agree. Dave should provide the public with which statements in the resolution he finds unacceptable.

But I believe the approach and rationale is misguided. Where I differ in my views are 1. I believe the “anti-racism” movement reduces all issues to race and will lead to polarization, not progress 2. how we go about addressing and combating the issue of racism, especially as they apply to political policy and 3. the pervasiveness or “systemic” nature of racism in our society and the Newberg community today.

In #1 above, Dave states he is against an “anti-racism” movement in general. He fails to see that HE is causing the polarization here by assigning the resolution to an entire movement instead of reviewing it as it was written. In other words, he has assigned the anti-racism resolution an entire host of other ideology and political perspective it in no way professes.

The Newberg School District already has policies (JB/JBB/AC/JFCF-AR/GBA) that deal directly with students, staff, and parents. These policies have been reviewed within the past year. In them, there is coverage for any wrongdoing in our Newberg School Community. Nondiscrimination, racism, bias, hate speech, and mistreatment is explicitly addressed in our policies. This leads me to believe that this latest resolution is less about combating racism and more about adopting and being influenced by current cultural “anti-racism” ideologies rather than addressing the specific issues and possible solutions as they pertain to our community. If not, then why is it necessary to create an additional resolution on top of the existing policies that clearly state the same clauses and condemnations of discrimination based on race?

Having policies in place — even recently reviewed policies — does not imply that they are comprehensive or sufficient. If the people who are affected by policies (the way POC are affected by policies regarding racism, bias, hate speech, etc.) are telling us the policies are insufficient or that they need a clear and unequivocal statement from the highest echelons of district leadership that we will collectively stand with them in proactively addressing embedded racism, a responsive board will take appropriate action. That’s what this resolution does. It takes appropriate action as requested by a group who needs us to step up our game on their behalf.

As a coach, volunteer, and school staff member hate speech, discrimination, and racism have always been antithetical to my worldview and everyday interactions with youth and individuals in our community as I believe they also have been for our school district and education system at large. If these policies have already been in place in our school district then why are we just now attempting to tackle the issues stated in this resolution?

“Why didn’t we do this before?” is an invalid argument. When we know better, we do better. We’re learning better right now, and so we’re responding. The idea that any appropriate action always should have happened “before now” — and that if it hasn’t already been done it shouldn’t be done now — is ridiculous and wholly illogical.

At what time or in what specific instances has our school district, employees or students not stood up, not punished, overlooked or excused grievous instances of racism?

People of color have provided the board with countless instances of racism. Dave is responding by discounting and diminishing those instances. I can provide emails to that effect with Dave’s responses. The main point, though, is that Dave doesn’t get to decide alone what instances of racism are “grievous” or rise to a level he considers high enough for his personal attention. Dismissing the many concerns and instances that have been brought to his attention — his failure to listen — does not in any way mean these instances didn’t, haven’t, and aren’t continuing to happen.

Whatever racially motivated issues in our community have happened in the past or even recently may not be as brightly illuminated as they are today due the national attention on the issue, but I cannot believe there was no fight or justice for these issues in the past. I believe it is because our community, employees and students are already onboard with this and have been for a very long time. But this is not about nondiscrimination anymore. This is about our society and policy makers being influenced by national organizations like Black Lives Matter and their push to not only be against racism, but to be “anti-racist”. These ideologies claim that America and its citizens are inherently racist. Perspectives that claim if we are not actively “anti-racist” then we are by default racist. I refuse this mindset.

No one said there was no fight or justice for these issues in the past within Newberg Public Schools. What a strange conclusion to draw from the request for an anti-racism resolution.

Dave is equating a local school district anti-racism resolution with the BLM movement. They are not the same thing. The anti-racism resolution is not a pro-BLM resolution, and Dave’s inability to understand the difference between the two — his inability to divorce himself from his political assumptions — is very concerning.

The “anti-racism” movement is reducing all human relations to a rudimentary correlation of skin color and inequality. Any inequality in outcome, therefore, must be solely attributed to race. In this view racism can no longer just be understood as the belief that someone is inferior based on race. Rather, racism must be defined as the belief that any differences in outcome must be assigned directly to racism. Thus, any system that ends with different outcomes must be racist. This is a dangerous, misguided precedent that I do not stand for. I stand for, and believe in, equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome is not possible to guarantee and seeking it only results in the reduction of groups to individual characteristics and factors and not paying attention to the holistic nature of our society, the multitude of factors at play in any individuals lives, and human nature. Absolutist thinking of this kind can only lead us to extremes and furthering oppression, not suppressing it.

This is one of the most troubling statements Dave makes. The fact that Dave is unconcerned that our children of color are experiencing differences in outcomes — that he believes there’s no racial component here — that he believes we shouldn’t look for ways to ensure an egalitarian outcome for all of our students and proactively look for ways to champion better outcomes for those experiencing racial (or financial or psychological or socio-economic) disparities is alarming. There is ample and sound research that shows Dave is, frankly, completely wrong about this, and it will undoubtedly negatively affect the very children we should be championing to allow this type of leadership to continue.

The OSBA Caucus of Color also made a resolution and, along with the OSBA, stated in their resolution statements that they were in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter organization. Our Board followed the OSBA, as we nearly always do on educational matters. While the intent is noble, we must ask if doing the popular thing is in our long-term best interest. Some of the wording and much of the theme that Newberg School District used to frame its own resolution was from these resolutions.

It is unfortunate that Dave has cast himself in the “unpopular” role here and cast the OSBA Caucus of Color as “the popular thing” when in fact data historically support that calls for justice are minimized by folks inside power structures — government, legislature, judicial… and in this case, school board members. That’s why MLK, Jr said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. He was acknowledging the extraordinary and painful amount of time it takes to bring our established systems into alignment with equity and equality for all.

Furthermore, Dave’s assertion that the Oregon School Board Association [OSBA] Caucus of Color and the OSBA stated that they were in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter organization is false. The only place I can find reference to the words “black lives matter” (words which are TRUE, by they way… black lives DO matter) is in the joint OSBA and OSBA Caucus of Color statement which reads in one sentence, “We stand with the message that “Black Lives Matter” and believe that racial discrimination and injustice are intolerable in any form.” [You can read the full statement from the OSBA and OSBA Caucus of Color here.] They said they stand with the message that Black Lives Matter. They don’t mention the organization. The OSBA letter to its members [which you can see here] makes no mention of the organization. Nor does their sample resolution for school boards to adopt [which you can see here].

To be clear, this resolution has direct ties and influence from the Black Lives Matter organization.

See above. This is a statement not backed by evidence or facts. I actually agree with Dave’s assessment that national events and the BLM have influenced our understanding of the local need to act in anti-racist ways. But to directly tie an increased understanding of our need to act in an anti-racist manner to the the BLM organization and conflate the NPS Anti-Racism Resolution with the BLM organization is false. What follows is an argument from Dave against the Black Lives Matter Organization. To be clear, the NPS Anti-Racism Resolution was not a Pro-BLM resolution. It was exactly what it purported to be — anti-racist. For Dave to state that black lives matter (as he does in his next sentence) and acknowledge the wrongs of racism and bigotry that are still happening in this country (as he does in the 11th paragraph above), but reject the calls from those black lives for a more just and equal school district is appalling.

The following twelve paragraphs are Dave’s statement against the BLM organization. Again, since the NPS Anti-Racism Resolution was not a Pro-BLM resolution, these comments have no bearing.

To me all black lives matter, they always have. But these three simple, lowercase words have been co-opted by the organization Black Lives Matter. I think it is critical this distinction is made. The Black Lives Matter organization stands for much more than the simple slogan they have titled themselves after and is not the same as just believing “black lives matter.” The popular viewpoint in our society has become that if you don’t side with, believe in, or support Black Lives Matter (the organization) then you don’t believe that “black lives matter” and by proxy are racist or condone racism. And so by default we have to also accept the additional ideological baggage of the Black Lives Matter organization.

This is false reasoning. I also vehemently disagree with much of what the Black Lives Matter organization stands for and is promoting. This does not make me oblivious to the multitude of issues faced by minority communities in this country. I personally am very concerned about racial inequality, but I care about finding actual solutions to specific and clearly defined issues in our community and country as a whole. I believe the Black Lives Matter ideologies, and similar or like-influenced, ideologies are either willfully trying to undermine finding solutions to racism in our country or ignorant to the fact their methods are actually damaging and will set back race relations and the opportunity for justice and equality that is desperately needed.

My first action at my first Newberg School Board meeting was to take the Oath of Office. In this Oath, I solemnly swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States Of America and all of its laws. I solemnly swore to uphold the Constitution of the State of Oregon and all of its laws. I solemnly swore to uphold the Policies and rules of the Newberg School District. I take these vows very seriously and will honor them to protect EVERY person no matter what.

But the Black Lives Matter organization, amongst other ideological movements, has led a charge into our society that flies in the face of our Constitution and the values that this country was founded on. The values that are the only thing standing between systems of oppression and freedom and equality for all people in our society. But these values and our Constitution are being renounced by not only BLM, but the strong undercurrents at the root of the organization and undercurrents in the ideological beliefs of the socialist left in our country that are actively trying to, not reform, but absolutely and fully tear down the system of values that have made our country a beacon of hope.

The Black Lives Matter organization states in THEIR OWN WORDS that they believe in a Marxist/socialist form of government:

“We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular, we’re trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.” — Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter (video source)

When their leaders say “Burn It Down” they mean taking down our democracy, our Constitution and our current form of government and they will not stop until they get what they want. This is their agenda and their goal and they are succeeding today in many places, especially the minds and hearts of people who think this is about George Floyd and justice for people of color. What happened to George Floyd was wrong and justice needs to happen, peacefully. This movement is taking advantage of Mr. Floyd’s tragic death to advance their agenda. Black lives do matter, absolutely, but we must distinguish between the true statement and the organization that uses this statement as a title to mask their true, nefarious intent.

The Black Lives Matter organization believes in THEIR OWN WORDS that they want to, “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement,” in the United States of America (see third from last paragraph on their “What We Believe” webpage). Why? Because the strength of the individual and a solid nuclear family unit undermines Marxist/socialistic movements because these ideologies rely on all citizens to be reliant on the government, not themselves. Strong individuals and families are antithetical to socialism, because Marxist/socialist governments’ success depends on central control of indoctrination and morality which is not possible with the nuclear family intact.

Further it has been shown time and again that the primary factor that leads to poverty, higher crime rates, and poor quality of life are fatherless and broken homes. If the goal is to lift minorities out of systems of oppression then why is the primary driving force behind race relations in our society today (the BLM organization) promoting “disruption” of such a fundamental value?

The Black Lives Matter organization believes in THEIR OWN WORDS that they want to dismantle and defund the police in the United States of America. Our police are not perfect and never have been. Reforms are needed and we have to do better. But our laws and the 800,000 police officers that serve our county and protect us like no other country in the world are and should be respected. I support police reform that is done wisely, peacefully, and respectfully and I believe the majority of the police officers who do this amazing and demanding job would agree. For the police officers murdered during these so-called peaceful protests, to the over 700, and counting, who have been injured, and to the rest who are waiting for our country to stop this incredible disrespect they are being shown, I say thank you for protecting our country, our communities, and my family every day.

The Black Lives Matter organization wants and seeks a Marxist/socialistic form of government, but just as disconcerting is the fact they are actively trying to undermine our current values and actively working towards policies that will actually harm, not help, minorities. Whether this is intentional or not I won’t speak to, but I cannot support these ideals. Unfortunately, there are many in our society today that do not see this as a bad thing and, in fact, encourage it.

And while BLM may not speak to everyone in the broader movement, I cannot in good faith stand behind a movement whose leaders espouse such radical positions for the reordering of American society. Unfortunately, this movement has perpetrated our country far-and-wide, and is now influencing our community and policies here at home.

So I’ll just reiterate here. The Anti-Racism Resolution is not and was not a Pro-BLM resolution. It was also not an anti-police resolution. Nor was it an anti-constitution resolution or an anti-America resolution. It was not an anti-family resolution. It was not a pro-Marxist resolution. It was not a Burn-It-Down resolution. It in no way asked anyone to “stand behind” the BLM organization. It simply asked NPS board members to unequivocally reject racism and discrimination in our district.

Many in our society today also believe the values of this great country we live in are founded on lies, racism, and oppression. They fail to understand the Constitution and founding documents were not declarations of successes or claims of a job well done, but rather ideas that we have, still are, and should always continue to strive towards. They were declarations of what this country can be, not what it is. They are ideals we will never live up to up, but should never stop trying to attain.

Again, this was an Anti-Racism Resolution. It was not a tear-down-American-ideals resolution.

I cannot sit back idly while our youths are indoctrinated with ideas that our country is inherently evil. I cannot sit back and accept that racism is part of our “DNA,” as has been widely claimed recently.

And once again, this was an Anti-Racism Resolution. It was not an indoctrination resolution or an our-country-is-evil resolution.

The idea that racism is fundamental to our people in either our “DNA” or as a “virus” is one of the most damaging ideas I can think of and will, and has certainly, set back race relations possibly by decades. The only natural conclusion to such statements is that the vast majority of the people in our country are inherently racist and without cure. How does this solve anything? How can anyone look at the progress of this country and believe such things? The answer is there is no solution here, just further division and polarization.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this was an Anti-Racism Resolution. It said zero things about our “DNA” or a “virus.” The fact that Dave uses statements that were not made by anyone in the Newberg Public Schools nor by the resolution itself to reject an Anti-Racism resolution — and uses straw man arguments to declare that the “only natural conclusion… is that the vast majority of the people in our country are inherently racist” — is a failure of logic and a display of an ideology that makes it clear Dave is unable to read a resolution or policy document without assigning baseless accusations to it.

The resolution also outwardly assumes a “systemic racism” in the Newberg community. systemic racism is defined as:

systemic: “fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice”, and racism: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; or racial prejudice or discrimination.”

I understand we all have biases, and many of us may, and likely do, hold biases of race. Bias is inherent to human psychology. But our individual biases are not fundamental to our existence, a bias is something we can build awareness to, something we can learn-out.

The statement in this resolution that our community is “systemically racist” is an acquisition against all of the people of Newberg that we are innately and predominantly racist. The Newberg community should be upset and enraged that a small group of people are willing to claim for them that they are racist.

This statement is also false and yet another example of Dave conflating one thing with another, baselessly. Systemic racism (which is easily google-able… I recommend reading the Wikipedia article on the subject — here — at or this USA Today article — here — which shares several definitions of systemic racism) is specifically differentiated from individual racism. It is literally about processes, systems, and institutions in our society which, due to embedded bias over decades and centuries, affect POC in inequitable ways. It is literally the idea that racism is not mainly the product of overt, individual racist words and actions — racism endures because it’s subtly woven into the fabric of our society. Systemic racism requires us to take actions exactly like the Anti-Racism Resolution proposes — to thoroughly review areas where our systems have cause racist outcomes that have, before now, been invisible to the individuals in power. It is the unpacking of our current system so we can see where we need to improve. It is NOT IN ANY WAY an accusation against any individual, much less “against all of the people of Newberg.” It is the OPPOSITE, which is the point.

We as Americans who love this country need to stand up and say NO MORE. Not just for the sake of our country, but for the sake of actually finding real solutions to the problems of racism and discrimination in our country. If we want to solve a problem then we first must accurately and specifically understand the truth and nature of the problem. By reducing the worldview and values of our country to being fundamentally racist we are setting the stage for the destruction of a nation that was, and is, a pioneering force in human rights and justice. The only natural drawn out conclusion to such extreme ideas are to raze not only the structure, but the foundation itself. To think about this happening should scare us all.

I could not agree more with Dave’s statement that “if we want to solve a problem then we first must accurately and specifically understand the truth and nature of the problem.” Unfortunately, by rejecting anti-racism as unAmerican, or unconstitutional, or accusatory of individuals — or the other host of ways Dave has rejected anti-racism — Dave is hamstringing Newberg’s efforts to do exactly that. It’s impossible to see a problem and understand the truth when he refuses to listen to the very people who are being harmed by the system.

Are we genuinely deciding to slide into a belief that there is nothing good or just about this country? That we have to “tear the system down?”

No, we’re not. This is Dave’s interpretation of the Anti-Racist Resolution. There is nothing in the resolution that states or implies there is nothing good or just about our country, nor that we have to “tear the system down.” Again, a baseless accusation and faulty interpretation without data or merit.

That is why I voted NO on this Newberg School District Resolution to further this movement by using “anti-racism” as their voice. I took an Oath of Office that gave me no choice to follow this movement. I will never apologize for defending the United States of America and the Constitution of our Nation.

And again, the Anti-Racism Resolution in no way violates any board member’s oath of office. It is not an anti-USA resolution. It is not an anti-constitution resolution. Dave’s assertion that it is is alarming and troublesome.

If I see or hear racism, I will stand with you and fight it. But I will not allow myself, my friends, my family, and community to be deemed racist by default and you should not either.

If you truly care for others no matter who they are, you will treat others well every time.

I hope Dave will listen to and hear POC when they say that in order to treat them well they need him to stand together with them and support anti-racism in NPS.

You will stop hating those who disagree with you.

It makes me sad that Dave believes disagreement with his position is hatred of his person. That’s untrue.

You will engage in healthy discussions and dialogue that seek positive change and aim to help all people no matter their race, gender, or age.

I agree, and I hope Dave will understand that challenging his vote and his harmful words in this document is a healthy — and necessary — discussion.

You will love this United States of America and all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy.

It is because I love my neighbors in this United States of America and the ideals we purport to follow that I will continue to raise my voice for liberty and justice for all.

You will respect Americans who came before us and fought to make this country great. They had flaws and they didn’t always do what we think is right. They may have been completely wrong at times. However, they lived in a different time and place. Things were vastly different than today. Instead of damning their missteps, how about we also celebrate their foresight and progress. We have a 20/20 lens of hindsight that they did not. Let’s learn from them, good and bad, to not repeat their mistakes and to build upon the good.

Yes, let’s learn from them, good and bad, which includes taking a hard look at our systems — which is what the board is charged to do — and making changes where they inequitably affect POC and other vulnerable humans.

John F. Kennedy said, ”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The time is now to take that to heart. The United States needs you and I to step up with honor and civility and bring this country together. We must heal one person at a time and quickly. We must stop the violence and hate. We must stop seeing each other through lenses of color and race and seek the heart of the person. This will not be easy. There have been many wrongs. We again have to be better than those wrongs and today, move forward. We move forward with every single encounter with every single person we meet. We must work hard to take care of our United States of America because this country has given us so much and can give us so much more! We must remember and not forget all the blessings we have.

I hope Dave will ask what he can do for his city in his position as a school board member. Folks who are marginalized here are showing him how to help make our town and our country a better place for everyone.

To those of you who have spoken harsh words directed at me I say, let’s move past words of hate and move towards words of healing and seeking to serve others and not ourselves.

Again, I’m so sad Dave believes challenging his ideas and words and no vote are words of hate. Despite his misconception, though, I remain focused on raising the voices of our hurting minorities. Dave isn’t my focus or concern except where he acts in his position as a board member to affect his community. I will continue to challenge voices who are unwilling to listen to and believe people of color.

God Bless The United States of America and all the people in it.

Sincerely,
Dave Brown


This is a screenshot of the full Anti-Racism Resolution adopted by Newberg Public Schools:

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
15 comments
  1. Thank you for your perseverance in seeking honest conversation regarding this dissent. As a mom of colored children my heart is breaking and I am not calm, I am angry and hurt. Thank you again for your work.

  2. Beth, thank you for taking the time to write out this thorough rebuttal. As I read through Dave’s letter before seeing your rebuttal, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hopelessness-that there will always be people like Dave who can’t see the world from any perspective but his own. I felt the weight of trying so hard only to have people not understand…again. It gives me hope and strength to know this isn’t something any one of us has to do alone. Thank you for carrying the torch on this one. Grateful, Elizabeth Nuñez

  3. Beth, thank you for taking the time and energy to pursue this. The fact that an elected official appears to be so threatened by a resolution that does NONE of the things that he asserts is truly unfortunate, and it is important that his constituents hold him accountable for his lack of representation of POC in both his vote and in his explanation of his vote. When a white person says that things are different now than in past times and that, because we have made some strides, we should just keep on doing what we’re doing, that is the ultimate in white privilege – not listening and therefore not hearing the people who are the most affected, who are saying “no, actually, things are not as they should be, and please make changes NOW”. It is unfortunate that Mr. Brown is in the position he is, with such an obvious disregard for the POC students that he is supposed to represent. Instead, it is apparent that he is most concerned with maintaining the status quo, which is a thinly-veiled way of saying “the rights of white people to not have to change”. As an educator, I stand with you in your efforts to hold him accountable. Thank you for all you are doing.

  4. Beth, I am so incredibly proud of you! You inspire me to do more.

  5. I agree that despite the fact that the resolution passed, we can no longer stay silent when it comes to racial inequality and injustice.

    There are far too many voices like Mr Brown, and they must be stopped. We can be polite, but direct, as Beth showed in her responses.

    Why is racism and hatred still rampant in our country? World? Because white people don’t want to hurt other white people’s feelings.

    No more. Shout. Cry out! Scream…politely.

  6. I’m halfway through ‘White Fragility’ and Dave Brown is possibly the best illustration of this concept. He could literally be THE primary case study (maybe he is?). It’s staggering to witness his complete lack of self-awareness. Thank you for documenting this so thoroughly – no doubt this is happening all over the country right now.

  7. Thank you Beth! This is the perfect rebuttal to a white man who does not believe white privilege exists or needs to be understood. You are fighting the good fight and have a ton of people who support you!

  8. I think you just got bullied n told to sit down shut up n act more white with us your friends. F that. All these people are undercover racists. That’s right I said it. It’s a shock I know Beth. It’s a friendship betrayal too n a game changer. These people are on the wrong side of history. You know those movies about the south n there’s always one white person standing up in church but but. Yeah that’s you right now my dear. And me. I’ll hold ur hand if you hold mine. It’s scary to hold our political beliefs right now. But we have to. In the words of the south “were showing our ass” to the world right now. All we need is for Putin to tweet us about now “bless your heart. I’ll pray for you.” Dave Brown, your white fragility can knock your ass out the door. I will work with Beth to make sure everyone knows bout you come time for re-election. Put him on blast and any one else this crap has to stop and I’m tired of playing nice.

  9. Thank you.

  10. This is such important and hard work that you are doing.
    Thank you

  11. Thank you ! My brain grew today!

  12. Beth, keep on fighting. You have SO much more patience and passion than I am capable of mustering. I’m far better at snarky quips than line by line take downs of illogical and wrong thinking.

    You are a force for good in this world. Keep shining your light. For our kids. For our futures. For all of us, you are a light in the darkness.

    Take care of you. You’re doing good things.

  13. I did read it all. It made me think you both should have chosen A. Hamilton or A. Burr as your signatures. You make very salient points. My question is, as the majority did approve and pass the resolution, do either your or Mr. Brown’s comments change that outcome? Is your school board elected or appointed (sorry, if you said that, I missed it)? Perhaps this would be an issue to bring up at Mr. Brown’s re-election period, should he pursue that, and to take the victory of the resolution and move forward, keeping your own ideals as you go. I am not saying to be calm, sit down, or change your point of view. Some folks are changed more by actions than words, and perhaps Mr. Brown may feel less threatened by the actual applied results of the enacted resolution. Either way, school board terms are not life appointments, and change is inevitable. Thanks for being you.

    1. You are hurting the movement by recommending we take a win while an undercover racist remains on school board. You have power as a white woman to tell your neighbors n friends n him no way this is unacceptable. Try that first before discouraging ur friends’ tactics. Oh I forgot the latter is more comfortable.

    2. You suggested “perhaps Mr. Brown may feel less threatened by the actual applied results of the enacted resolution.”

      As an update, the School Board had a workshop yesterday to fine tune the goals related to the resolution. It grew VERY heated, with Mr. Brown attempting to block the action items or make the equity resolution action items include the voices of white people so that their voices are heard (as if white people’s voices are not already heard. He has direct influence with continuing actions in our board and school system. That is why we cannot wait to speak out. People are hurting NOW. People are being effected NOW. We can no longer wait to speak up. We must speak up now.

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