Parents’ reactions to School District No. 74 anti-racism posters

'Until I educate myself I am on the fence' is one response.

As part of the discussion about the poster campaign in School District No. 74, The Journal reached out to three parents who have different views on it. Brandy Cooper-Chardon (opposed), Deanna Horsting (in favour), and Trish Lambert (undecided) were all asked the same questions. Here are their answers.

1) What do you think of the poster campaign SD74 has recently implemented in District schools to address racism?

Cooper-Chardon: I think it’s a noble cause.

Horsting: I think they are very valuable conversations to have.

Lambert: I haven’t actually seen any of the posters in the school; I’ve only seen the one with Teresa Downs about white privilege on Facebook and in news articles. My first reaction was basically “This is crap”, but then realized I honestly didn’t know what white privilege actually meant, so until I educate myself I am on the fence.

2) Why do you think the poster about white privilege featuring Downs has been singled out, with the other two receiving little if any attention?

Cooper-Chardon: The poster with the term “white” privilege has been singled out because when there is a group of people singled out based upon their culture, colour, and their heritage, that creates division which doesn’t belong in any school system in 2018. And it certainly doesn’t belong in an anti-racism message.

Lambert: I think the poster with Teresa is singled out because of the words white privilege, but again I haven’t seen the others.

3) What do you think the phrase “white privilege” means?

Cooper-Chardon: I like this from Wikipedia: “White privilege, specifically, is an institutional set of unearned benefits granted to White people.”

Horsting: White privilege to me means that some things in life are easier or happen just based on the colour of a person’s skin. It doesn’t take away from anything they have done, it doesn’t cast shame on the person. To me it isn’t meant to inflict guilt.

Lambert: At first I thought the term white privilege meant that other races saw white people as all better off financially. Then I actually looked into it, and realized I was way off. I don’t think many white people actually understand what it means. Do all white people have white privilege? I don’t think I have benefited from it, but I could be wrong.

4) Do you think, as many people seem to be saying, that the phrase is teaching a “different” kind of racism, i.e. teaching white children to be ashamed of their background?

Cooper-Chardon: No I don’t think it’s teaching a different kind of racism; it’s teaching the same kind of racism. When a group is singled out for their culture and colour, it is racist, period.

Horsting: This is not meant to teach a “different kind of racism”; it is meant to visit the fact that there is racism, unfortunately. This is a phrase that many people are uncomfortable with, I feel because it is hard to reflect on one’s self and what it may or may not mean to have experienced privilege. There is a lot of learning to do as adults (and youth) about what this means. It is not meant to put shame on people, but rather to observe history, facts, and systems. This is how change can be made and conversations can be had.

Lambert: I don’t think the posters are causing a different type of racism. My thoughts and opinions on racism is it’s tough at home.

5) The campaign was meant to initiate conversation. How successful do you think it has been, and can you see positive or negative long-term effects from these conversations?

Cooper-Chardon: Conversation regarding racism was definitely created, and in that context the campaign was successful. However, if the focus of the discussion remains upon division instead of gratitude, the blowback can result in negative relationships and behaviour issues.

Horsting: This has been a very successful campaign to get some conversations and hopefully deeper thinking happening. I have found everyone wants to be heard, but many people don’t want to hear other people. It is, to me, an interesting glimpse into people’s lives to see what conversations are happening at home or being shared on social media. I would love to hear of more open, respectful conversations happening face to face. I am also so in awe of how thoughtful and well-spoken the youth are.

Lambert: This campaign has started up conversations among parents of young children for sure! Most of what I have seen is negative, and I sure hope it doesn’t remain negative, but if the parents pass the negativity down it could play a negative role for years to come.

6) Feel free to add any other thoughts you have.

Cooper-Chardon: This campaign was created partly because the students said that they were having to deal with racism. With something serious happening, why was this not brought to the guardians’ and parents’ attention so a solution could be discussed, and be discussed in the home?

Lambert: My daughter hasn’t said anything to me about the posters, and I have yet to ask her, as I wasn’t in a position to educate her. I am close to being able to ask her and answer questions and share what I have learned. I do hope other parents take the same steps.

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