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Hate comes in many forms, and we must stand up to them all

By Amber Arellano

The following article ran in the Detroit Free Press on August 17 and is available here.

The outcry against the hate displayed in recent days in Charlottesville will fade. It is easy to be outraged when racism is marching up the street waving a bright red flag.

As a parent, a Latina and the leader of an organization that celebrates diversity and relentlessly advocates for equity in education in Michigan, I understand all that is at stake when we accept and excuse bigotry through our silence. Which is why it is so important for responsible Americans to stand up to hate in any form – whether it is blatant or veiled, through act or omission.

Because there is no mistaking the targets of this hate. When white supremacists call for racial purity, they are targeting their hate at me. When neo-Nazis call to “kill the Jews,” they are talking about our neighbors and co-workers. And when the KKK don hoods and robes, they strive to incite the fear of death in our children and communities.

This moment is a reminder of our obligation to stand up against hate wherever and however it takes root. It is a reminder of our responsibility to teach that racism and bigotry have no place in our communities. And we must be committed to ensuring that every child — no matter where they were born, what they look like, how they pray or who they love — knows that they are welcome in our communities, that they matter for our future, and that they have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Our collective challenge, however, is to be equally outraged when this racism is far less blatant and far more potent. For decades, we have seen leaders at every level stand by silently as children of color were under-resourced, under-served and under-educated in our public schools. We must stand against racism when it is a Latino classroom with too many students and too few books. When African American students are arrested for the same act that sends White peers to the principal’s office. When we provide less, expect less and fail to hold adults accountable for the learning of African American and Latino children.

In the last week, I have been buoyed to see and hear Americans of every background — from both sides of the political aisle and every imaginable background — decry the acts in Charlottesville and President Donald Trump’s reaction since then. I am buoyed because at its heart, I believe in the best of America — and I’ve seen that spirit expressed among so many neighbors, colleagues, friends and civic leaders.

Public education is an issue that can and should bring Americans of every background together to work for an equitable and excellent education for every child.

Let’s let Charlottesville be more than a reminder of our lesser spirit. Let’s make Charlottesville a call to work together to make our country stronger and more inclusive for every American — and every American child.

Click here for the full text of this article.

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