Testimony of Kristin Luebert to the BOE, December 12, 2019

Good evening Board members and Dr. Hite, My name is Kristin Luebbert, a Philadelphia educator, PFT member, and member of the Caucus of Working Educators. I am here tonight to speak out in favor of the Board officially endorsing the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools, specifically to note  that the District providing Anti-Racist training for all educators is one of the goals of the week.

It is encouraging that the Anti-Racist training that the Racial Justice Committee and the Melanated Educators Collective has developed has been offered at district events like Tune-Up Tuesday and as an elective at New Teacher Orientation. This is a step in the right direction, however it does not go far enough. Currently, these offerings are self-selected by people who have an interest in this struggle and who recognize the need for this crucial training. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues do not recognize this need in themselves.  The Anti-racist training needs to be required professional development for ALL Philadelphia educators.

As Nikole Hannah-Jones notes in her essay The Idea Of America, “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country…”  and we acquire the idea and actions of white supremacy involuntarily through osmosis. It is by that very same osmosis that our Black and Brown students are subtly and insidiously reminded each and every day that they are somehow seen as “other” or “less than” in this, the country many of them were born in and where they make their homes. Many of our white teachers in the district (and remember that white teachers are currently the majority), would claim and truly believe that they are “non-racist” and “don’t see color”. However, as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi so eloquently states in his writings:

“When you have a society with racial inequity as the norm, to do nothing in the face of that norm is to allow that norm to persist, is to essentially be racist. And so yes, indeed, people who are antiracist are people who are literally challenging the norm. And you can’t challenge the norm by doing nothing.” (Yes Magazine, 10/25/19)

White people in this country, even people with several university degrees like teachers, have not been truly educated about our country’s deep, persistent, and ongoing oppression of our Black and Brown fellow humans. This issue requires more than good will and “niceness”. It requires an active, radical ANTI-racist stance. We can and must “challenge the norm”.  Please make Anti-Racist training a required cornerstone of professional development in the School District of Philadelphia.