I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Accountability is like kryptonite to whiteness.
Think of accountability as the sun and whiteness as the vampires, scurrying to hide from its blistering brightness so they don’t get shriveled up and turned into vapor in the truth of its light.
This is a story about Florida.
I’ve written before about the anti-Blackness being fostered in the Sunshine State; their governor, Ron DeSantis, is leading the charge by legislating anti-Black racism and all other kinds of bigotry in the state.
It is especially egregious when anti-Blackness is targeted at innocent Black children.
Let me explain.
In case you missed it for whatever reason, Bunnell Elementary School in Flagler County, Florida — a school district already notorious for their low test scores — pulled all of its Black fourth and fifth graders into an assembly late last month where they were shown a PowerPoint presentation that blamed them for the school’s low scores on state standardized tests.
The children were told that if they didn’t bring the test scores up, they would likely end up in jail, dead, or shot to death.
Never mind that Black students make up only 14% of the student population at Bunnell. In a school where white students make up 60% of the student body, only 32% of students are meeting or exceeding the required measurements on state assessments. That ain’t the Black kids’ fault.
These details didn’t matter, however, as even Black students who were meeting or exceeding the metrics were pulled into the assembly.
No other students in the school were made to attend such a presentation or spoken to about the low test scores.
It was racist, and it’s OK for us to call it racist. To not acknowledge the inherent racism and implicit bias in this incident is to spit in the faces of the Black children who endured this injustice.
Parents of the Black students said their children were traumatized by the assembly — especially the part where they were told they would be “shot dead” if their scores didn’t improve.
Donelle Evensen, who is white, was the principal of Bunnell Elementary until she resigned last week. She says the assembly was meant to “inspire Black students to improve what she said were subpar test scores with opportunities for mentorship, one-on-one competitions and fast food prizes,” according to News4Jax.
JUST IN: The principal of a Flagler County elementary school has resigned following a controversy over her handling of a recent assembly that targeted the academic performance of Black students. https://t.co/ypLTVsJmrA
— News4JAX (@wjxt4) September 7, 2023
Funny, the PowerPoint presentation is publicly available, and nowhere in that presentation does it mention mentorship or any of that other “inspirational” jibber jabber Evensen is spinning now.
Evensen told Newss4Jax that she was present for part of the assembly, but claims she didn’t hear the part where students were told they would end up dead. She also said she doesn’t feel like she should have been “pushed out of her position over this.”
“What’s being portrayed is not who I am. And that’s not what my intent was. That was not the vision,” Evensen said.
Ma’am. What exactly was the vision?
Evensen went on to say that the school has had conversations “year after year” about what they could do to “make a difference for these students.”
This assembly wasn’t it, and Evensen knows that, which is why although she signed off on the assembly and was present for it, she says the ultimate blame lies with the Black teacher who put it together. She was quick to add that other Black teachers were present at the assembly as well, as if that somehow absolves her duty as principal and the actual boss of the teachers at the school.
Even though she knew only Black students were called into the assembly and the presentation only mentioned Black students having low test scores, Evensen claims she never looked at it “from a racial aspect” until parents and the community complained.
And baby, that is the privilege of whiteness.
Whiteness shields you from having to consider how your actions may impact people who don’t look like you and don’t have the same privilege as you. You don’t have to consider it because it doesn’t impact you the same way it impacts them.
White privilege is a helluva drug.
As of last week, the district was still investigating the incident, and honestly, what else is there to investigate?
What other proof do you need to understand that these children were mistreated and singled out because they are Black?
Shame on you, Donelle Evensen. It’s just like a crying Karen to turn around and try to play victim when called out for your actions.
May you never be put in a position that impacts the educational outcomes for Black students again.
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