I really, really hated to see the first sentence of this story about the Richland School District 2 election:
Race has become the defining issue in the Richland 2 school board election, as rumors circulate of a shift in power from a white-majority to a black-majority board.
Fueled by the activism of an African-American parents’ advocacy organization and a separate white group called the Bi-Partisan Committee, the usually placid election in the Midlands’ largest district has spawned heightened interest and dueling visions for the future of the 27,300-student district….
Appalling. And here’s where I stand on this: I’m opposed to anyone who cares whether the board is majority-white or majority-black. I have no patience with Identity Politics. I wouldn’t lift a finger to affect the racial balance one way or the other.
By contrast, Rep. Mia McLeod is taking a side, labeling the “white” group as a latter-day “White Citizens’ Council.” Which is a pretty heavy-duty accusation. Here’s what she says:
Sadly, race has taken center-stage in Richland Two (R2), thanks to a modern-day White Citizens’ Council (WCC),” disguised as a bipartisan committee. But this WCC isn’t about students, academics, best practices or strengthening and improving public education in the District.
No…this “whites-only” advocacy group has rebranded itself for the sole purpose of interjecting race, racist rhetoric, lies and fear into a school board contest, so that R2’s power and control remains with those who’ve always had it.
It’s no secret that whites are now the minority in R2, but still very much in control. This election could change that, so the WCC was revived to protect the status quo and ensure that no real diversity or talent is elected.
Like you, I would much rather have qualified, competent board members who truly care about our students, parents, teachers and communities. Service with vision, integrity, transparency and accountability should be the benchmarks—not race.
I don’t care whether you’re (former) Elections Director, Lillian McBride, or (current) R2 Superintendent, Debbie Hamm. Incompetence in any “color” is equally offensive and those who condone it based on race, gender, party or friendship are equally wrong.
Realizing that change is imminent, former R2 leaders have joined forces with current R2 leaders to create this unholy alliance and ironically, it’s this White Citizens’ Council—not the Black Parents’ Association, that has strategically placed the issue of race front and center.
By purposely disseminating false, misleading, deliberately divisive rhetoric, R2’s WCC attempts to marginalize and discredit anyone who challenges the status quo. According to one WCC member, “it’s the last stand for a good school district.”
And yet, hiring and electing candidates based on race, not merit, is precisely what they’ve accused the R2 BPA of doing.
Isn’t that “the pot calling the kettle black?”
And because they’ve identified their “picks,” we now know who not to vote for, if we ever wanna see any positive, progressive change in R2.
Let’s start with the WCC’s only African-American endorsee, Cheryl Washington Caution-Parker, a retired R2 Deputy Superintendent who was repeatedly passed over for the top gig.
According to the WCC, she’s aptly qualified. Perhaps she was consistently not promoted because she is black, since current District leaders have secretly opined that R2 isn’t ready for a black Superintendent and “the reason we got rid of (former Superintendent) Katie” is because she promoted too many qualified African-Americans to Administrative positions, making it harder to keep R2 from “looking Black like Richland One.”
Amazingly, Washington Caution-Parker is now conspiring with the same racist operatives who’ve worked against her for years. Clearly qualified, but obviously not the brightest candle in the bunch…
Since the BPA allegedly works so hard to ensure that R2 hires and promotes African-Americans, whether qualified or not…maybe it was actually trying to help by listing her as “white” on it’s website—in keeping with the District’s “whites-only” Superintendent policy.
Perhaps, if the BPA had come to her aid sooner, Washington Caution-Parker might not have gotten bumped out of the Superintendent spot by a white IT Director with only a fraction of the qualifications and experience.
And White Citizens’ Council endorsee #2, James Manning, has proven yet again that he’ll align himself with anyone who’ll help him get re-elected.
Even after admitting that the WCC’s newsletter was chock full of lies, Manning happily accepted the endorsement—proof that he too, is fully supportive of the WCC’s mission and aligned with its values–while latching onto every black church, black parent, black anybody, who’ll help him hoodwink us out of four more years.
But the WCC’s radically racist crusade doesn’t stop there. It also attempts to defame and discredit one of the most qualified, capable, committed candidates, who happens to be African-American.
Why? Because if Amelia McKie (or as the WCC refers to her…the one with “the green signs”) is elected, we’ll have a strong voice on R2’s school board who’ll fight for students, communicate with parents and demand real transparency and accountability.
Contrary to what you’ve heard or read, I’m not a member of the R2 BPA. Neither is she. And if the school board and DO were truly representative of all of the people of R2, there would be no need for a Black Parents’ Association, White Citizens’ Council or this email.
Amelia McKie is a dynamic parent advocate, State SIC Board Member, R2 Ambassador, District spokesperson and SC Education Policy Fellow, who’s maliciously maligned because she poses the biggest threat to the OG’s precious status quo. And unlike the WCC’s “picks,” McKie is a change agent who’s qualified and in this race for the right reasons.
Her candidacy appeals to a vast cross-section of R2 residents because she understands that equity, parity and diversity are key to our individual and collective success.
Since we’re obviously not beyond tactics used during the Civil Rights Movement, ask R2’s WCC why it deliberately distributed false, deceptive, race-based propaganda, touting a predominately white slate to a “whites-only” audience—proving that District leaders still aren’t interested in engaging all of the people of Richland Two.
But as fate would have it, I just did. And now you too, get to see their true colors…
Not sure what to think of all that. But I imagine that some of the white folks who were so tickled that Mia was taking on Lillian McBride and her supporters among the other black members of the county legislative delegation are probably going to be less enchanted now.