Reinstate Anthony Clark at OPRF
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We are members of the community who strongly oppose the racist actions of District 200 in their unjust suspension of OPRF faculty member Anthony Clark.
We understand the following sequence of events:
- A White student posted a racist selfie in blackface, with a caption mocking the Black students of BLU;
- The image was soon proliferated widely by OPRF kids, inflicting repeated harm on students of color;
- Mr. Clark was then made aware of the harmful image, and he brought the photo to a local support group online, focused on equity and diversity (a conversation that gave us space to reflect on values, parenting, and the pain caused by blackface);
- Mr. Clark was then asked to facilitate, offline, restorative justice steps to mend the harm done to the Black students at OPRF -- upon learning the photo depicted a current OPRF student, he took it offline;
- Without investigating the matter fully, the school then suspended Mr. Clark.
We feel shock and dismay at the school's decision. The D200 social media policy, cited as reason for Mr. Clark's suspension, is a policy that gets violated regularly: Coaches and staff often post photos of kids without "prior permission" and receive no repercussions. We call foul on the unfair, inconsistent application of the policy. Suspending Mr. Clark silenced a valued role model, who served as a mentor and support system for many students of color at OPRF.
We denounce school leaders who willfully failed to learn or consider vital details in this case, such as:
- When kids showed the photo to him, Mr. Clark did not recognize the young man in blackface as an OPRF student.
- As soon as he was informed of the identity and age of the young man, Mr. Clark deleted the photo.
- The parents of the young man (whose actions, and his actions alone, sparked this crisis) were in support of Mr. Clark's actions.
We protest a racist status quo that under-penalizes White members of the school community, and over-penalizes Black members. Equity is a D200 buzzword, with nonstop lip service to bridging our shameful 20-year “achievement gap," yet this incident lacked all fairness. Kids of color who were harmed by their classmate's racist "joke" saw school leaders compound the racism by sending a letter to parents that was full of concern for the White student, and punishment for the Black teacher, but made no mention of BLU.
We demand that D200 reinstate Anthony Clark to his position immediately. The OPRF school community should also receive an apology for the school's unjust decision and for their insensitive statement, which all but erased the students of color who were targeted by the blackface photo. Their voices matter.
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