Where do we go from here: An open letter to the NAACP and my fellow community members

Former Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman has been replaced by Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor pending School Board approval.
Former Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman has been replaced by Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor pending School Board approval.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the editor for allowing me to express the following thoughts and opinions as well as providing the community with a safe and unbiased platform.

In the past couple of weeks, many community members have been taken aback and have been in protest over the actions of former Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman. Well, as an African-American parent of several children at Campbell Park Elementary and living in the community, I couldn’t be more disappointed in the community than I am now.

First, let’s get to the e-mail. In reality, it sounded bad. It sounded terrible but because we have become such reactionary people, no one cared to hear an explanation or search for some type of understanding, and to be totally honest, no matter what she would have said to explain herself, no one wanted the truth.

Former Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman has been replaced by Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor pending School Board approval.

Former Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman has been replaced by Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor pending School Board approval.

For one, the Times reported it being about 49 white children at the school, but any active parent or community member would tell you that there are probably less than 18 white students in the entire school. Secondly, she tried to explain that if there were two white kids in the fourth grade, just put them together with the rest of the children.

Did you hear that? They would still be kept with the rest of the children. Did I agree? No. Was I able to understand the intent? Absolutely. Did I agree with the intent? No. But did this call for claims of racism and segregation? Absolutely not. While other ethnicities were overlooked and we can agree that it was insensitive, let’s take a minute to be real with ourselves.

If you were the only person in a room full of people who didn’t share the same ethnic background or culture as yourself, would you not want someone there who you’d be able to relate to? A friend? Spouse? Acquaintance?

This is all now irrelevant but could have been a great learning experience for the community and all parties involved – an opportunity to have this discussion in a non-hostile environment would have paved the way for growth, understanding and uniting the school and neighborhood rather than to divide it.

Ignorance isn’t always the same as racism and those that look like you aren’t always for you, while those that don’t aren’t always against you. Needless to say, this article isn’t in defense of Mrs. Hoffman, but a plea to think and listen for understanding rather than to listen (or read) for the sole purpose of reacting. How quick our ministers are to preach love but fail to practice forgiveness.

Last week, my husband and I read the article by Maria Scruggs and her thoughts on the “Cultures of Complacency.” She explained that community members should be educated on school board policies and operations, holding the district and board members accountable for its actions, hiring policies and responsibility in educating our children. However, the article becomes problematic when there is no accountability placed on parents and community members to become active and involved in their children’s education.

There have been quite a few community events, teacher conferences and ongoing activities throughout the year at Campbell Park Elementary, and although there are usually pretty good turn outs for community events, there are only about two to four parents who show up for student data meetings and conferences.

I have three children, wherein each grade level held two data meetings this year. I’ve made four out of the six meetings, but each time only two to four parents showed up. Not once in the entire year have I seen the NAACP, community clergy or any of the people who stood outside of the gates protesting (in the middle of state testing) step foot at this school, until now.

But I will tell you what I have seen: teachers going into their pockets purchasing shoes, shirts, socks and underwear for their students, providing breakfast for kids who come late, snacks to sustain them until lunch and when I visit my own kids during lunch I see mentors and churches who aren’t even in or from this community consistently mentoring, donating and volunteering their time every single week.

Mind you, only a few of these visitors are African American. Once again, no NAACP, members of the clergy or any of the protestors. I’ve stood in the office and have witnessed parents yelling at administrators and teachers for not being able “to control” their child. When did we become a people whose children need controlling and are unable to respect adults and have basic morals? Teachers are not only responsible for teaching our children but for raising many of them as well. I’m disappointed in us.

Why is that not up for discussion? Why is there no longer parental accountability for raising our children? Where is the NAACP, pastors and community members then? Where is the outrage in that? Where all the bandwagoners who only show up and have an opinion when there is controversy?

The NAACP and community members have also continued to label our kids as failing but have done nothing to help the situation and get involved. As a parent of three beautiful, smart and hardworking children, I find that very offensive – and so do my children. I’ve considered taking them out several times, and not because of the teacher or the principal, but after seeing classrooms destroyed due to bad and should be unacceptable behavior, which takes away from the time that my children should be learning.

Yet, according to my kids, many of these same kids are removed then sent back to class with little to no consequence.  If I had to guess, it would be because we, as black people, have taken all accountability away from the student and their parents and labeled any due punishment as racism and unjust.

It seems like the NAACP and other protestors are more interested in finding an issue rather than finding the truth and obtaining a well thought-out solution. Did they talk to any active parents? Not just those that agree but those that may have differing opinions? Speak to any teachers? As much as I love my neighborhood, my community and my people, we are truly messing up.

I leave with you with this, about a year or so ago three African-American teenage girls were killed in a stolen car running from the police. My sincere condolences to the families as I hope to never know what it’s like to lose a child.

The car, as we know, landed into a body of water and the girls died. Community members screamed racism and protested the removal of the officers for not attempting to save them, but no one from the community questioned why these girls were out and not at home asleep. No one questioned why they were with this man, why they stole his car, if their parents knew where they were, why they were running from the police, why was it okay to have multiple and previous arrests as teenagers…nothing.

All accountability was taken off of the girls and off of the parents. Our kids are dying and many of their lives are going down the drain, and unfortunately, we are the ones to blame.

Anonymous

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2 thoughts on “Where do we go from here: An open letter to the NAACP and my fellow community members

  1. Theresa D. Jones

    I sincerely applaud this letter writer for such a sincere and well drafted letter. And, I agree with practically every point that she’s made. It takes courage to speak up and not to simply go along with the crowd.

    Reply
  2. Blanca Costa

    If you were the only person in a room full of people who didn’t share the same ethnic background or culture as yourself, would you not want someone there who you’d be able to relate to? A friend? Spouse? Acquaintance?

    I agreed with this letter until i read this part. This is basically stating that if you don’t share the same ethnic background or culture, that you’re unable to relate, or build any kind relationship with them?
    If that’s not rasist what is? ALL people are equal, it doesn’t matter WHAT RACE/RELIGION, they are all there for the same purpose- to learn!

    Reply

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