To the Editor: ORR school district should not abuse its public platform

Jun 4, 2020

To the Editor:

I want to start off first by saying I whole heartedly denounce racism. Of course black lives matter, as all lives do.

Racism is very real, but seeing the ORR School District claim it is a “systemic” issue is controversial and quite inflammatory. We’ve come a long way as a country on race relations, but how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go is a topic up for debate.

The word systemic, by its very definition, suggests that there is a core system / process fallacy. It implies something that is deep rooted, specifically identifiable, and involves a literal system or process.

In terms of racism, I do not find this to be the case in the year 2020. There are no laws, rules, or regulations of any kind in the United States that oppress people based on their skin color. African-American individuals are found in every aspect of society, in both the public and private sector. No matter where you go, you will find this to be true in all corners of our great country. To some degree, this was epitomized with the election of our prior President.

No individual should feel that there is an organized deep rooted system or process out to stop them from living a free life, because there isn’t. Anyone of any color can accomplish whatever they want in the United States. Beyond the examples in the public and private sector, I believe society as a whole is overwhelmingly not racist. I’m not going to attempt to put a percentage on how many people are racist or are not, but the percentage is very small. This does not make it ok. Our tolerance level should be zero. Racism is real. It’s just not systemic.

I base this not just on my personal life experience but on the information I’ve gained from talking and listening to others. Numerous cultural leaders in the African-American community discourage the idea that systemic racism exists. For example, Candace Owens spoke in Providence in September 2019 on this topic.

Her goal, quite literally as cited in the article is “to show people of color that they are not victims of systemic racism.”

Bob Woodson, an African-American civil rights activist and founder of the Woodson Institute said “race is being used as a rouse” for political gain, as stated on Tucker Carlson on June 2nd, 2020 -

Of course there are thousands of first-hand accounts of racism in our country, because racism is very real; it’s just not systemic. It has been 150+ years since we ended slavery and virtually destroyed the KKK. It has been 50+ years since we ended segregation, the Jim Crow laws, and signed the Civil Rights Act.

Beyond ORR’s use of the word “systemic,” I also find it troubling that they seemingly pledged support to Black Lives Matter as an organization.

One of the co-founders of BLM called for defunding the police. Uprisings across the country under the umbrella of BLM have asked for the same; demanding that police as we know it be abolished.

While BLM is made up of mostly good people who support a noble cause the organizers at the top seem to be looking to use this “movement” to attempt to eliminate, defund, or comprehensively change law enforcement at its foundation. Other BLM activists attending rallies have used the tragic murder of George Floyd as an excuse to destroy property, steal, and even commit violent acts such as murdering cops. This is a perversion of the cause’s nobility, and that is unfortunate. These criminal buffoons and misguided leaders do not represent the people that make up BLM any more than rogue cops making bad decisions represent all the police. The BLM movement is fragmented with a lot of complexity and unfortunately; this is part of it.

Considering the anti-cop messaging that is coming from BLM and all the current destruction in cities nationwide under their name whether justifiably or not, this is a highly charged and highly politicized situation. If “BLM” was really just about black lives mattering and peacefully protesting, this would be a moot topic, but it’s not. It’s unfortunately much more than that. Therefore, it’s problematic when a public school system thrusts itself into the situation to not only state that they plan on attending a rally, but that they are encouraging others to do so as well.

Surely ORR doesn’t stand for the defunding or removal of police from our society like the leaders of BLM desire. If someone on the ORR leadership committee believes that, they are certainly entitled to their opinion, but leveraging the bully pulpit is a bit of an abuse of power. While we can all independently stand for justice in our society while supporting peaceful demonstrations, the school district should be more cognizant of its language in the future.

I’ll close by saying I’m proud of the way our community came together to peacefully and lawfully assemble. Justice and equality are always worth standing up for and we still aren’t where we need to be. I happen to believe we are closer to completing MLK’s dream than ever before, but the school district crossed a line when it used controversial race language and backed a controversial organization.

Jay Correia