Remember those South Philly High Asian students who were beaten by dozens and dozens of African-American students looking for some Asian kids to attack last week?
Remember that school district administration who explained that there was no racism involved, that the learning environment at South Philly High was great, and that racial tensions were much improved this school year?
And then the Asian student boycott that followed this refusal by the administration to consider their experiences counter to all of those statements?
Well, yesterday district Superintendent Ackerman finally publically addressed the situation in front of a backdrop of some 50 other students of color. Gesturing to her human p.o.c. display she explained that they are the ‘real face’ of Philadelphia schools. The Asian students beaten senseless last week? We can only conclude that they are imposters.
Ackerman suggested the attacks were being sensationalized by the media, and urged the community to stop assigning blame and move forward.
During yesterday’s press conference, Ackerman was surrounded by some 50 student leaders of all races whom she described as “the real face of South Philadelphia High.”
Fortunately, as I mentioned in past postings, the students and their mostly immigrant, non-English speaking families have community leaders supporting them in this insane David and Goliath situation. Superintendent Ackerman is now saying she wants to keep these community leaders away from any meetings with the Asian immigrant students and their parents.
“I will be here to have private conversations with the students and their families,” Ackerman said. “I do not intend to have conversations with community leaders.”
One can only assume Ackerman either speaks a variety of Asian languages, or expects families to feel safe and trusting of any district interpreter she appoints because gee – aren’t we all on the same side here?! Could she really be this clueless about the needs of non-English speaking families to trust and understand their interpreters? Or perhaps so callous that the language barrier is of no concern to her in getting past this over sensationalized racial assault on random Asian immigrant members the schools student body.
It certainly is time for a Civil Rights Complaint. There is so much wrong with the actions of this school district, just from a reading the few articles available, that I cannot imagine where the families will find any other inroad to addressing the situation. I wish I could find a transcript of the press conference. From all of the excerpts all I can say is wow.
How many ways can you tell a community ‘Your experiences don’t count, you are not real students, you have no rights, and we call the shots.’ Quite a few it seems. And you start by denial and delay for at least a week or two. Then bring in the big guns and say here are the terms, accept your total marginalization and thank us for installing video cameras to get it on tape… or go away.
Update (12/14/09) Angry Asian Man has links to 8 pages of student victim testimony taken by representatives from Asian Americans United following the schoolwide violence on December 3rd. As far as I know, the district has yet to collect testimony from any of these students. Ackerman suggested that today was the day she is willing to meet with students and parents in private.