I experienced discrimination in the Fargo School system last year and due to the inaction by my special needs teacher, school administrators, and officials protect me from the school’s hostile environment. I was forced (and humiliated) in the process of telling my story and going public. Discrimination is present in Fargo-Moorhead. And it doesn’t just happen once in a while like people think. It happens all the time to people of color and many protected classes (disabled, LGBT) like me. I have faced racism at the University level head on.
My informative speech on the history of racism in our country offended my speech teacher, Ms. Gardner’s, who decided to use her white privileged to oppress me by denying me the right to give the speech in class. My parents and I recorded a conversations with Ms. Gardner and dean Tim Borchers, where the dean ignored the complaint of racism and defended Ms. Gardner’s criticism of my speech. At one point, he argued the thesis was persuasive because it assumed that all people have the right to equal treatment.
After finally hearing my speech, both Gardner and Borchers were stumped to define what part of my speech was persuasive and to save face, the dean agreed to let me do my speech if I changed the wording of my thesis. Before I had a chance to make any corrections, Ms. Gardner had already written to threaten retaliation in the form of less points if I decided to proceed. The retaliation was reported to the dean by my parents and he did not even bother to respond until my mother left him several angry messages and phone calls. He set up an appointment with me and my family and had Donna Brown of the “diversity” center come in to essentially tell me nothing had happened. I requested to be transferred out of that class. The next day, in defiance, I gave my speech and exposed Ms. Gardner’s and the dean’s racist statements and actions to the entire class.
Here is the full speech MSUM’s racist professor and dean didn’t want the students to hear.
We apologize for the audio on the filming of Sara’s Speech. Here is a copy of the text of the speech:
Immigration policies have historically been used to control unwanted populations through use of deportation or forcible removal. Today, America’s immigration policies continue to oppress people of color in the U.S. As members of the human community in agreement with declaration of human rights, all countries have a duty to strive for just laws that treats everyone equally. Because America has racist immigration policies, it cannot fulfill its constitutional promises.
Immigration policy was formed as a response to American imperialism. We all learned about “Manifest Destiny”, the notion that God had ordained white people to take over the world. In the U.S. quest to continue continental expansion it declared war on Mexico and annexed Texas. However, racism deterred Senator Calhoun’s support of the annexation of Mexico even though he agreed with the theory and principals of Manifest Destiny. In his speech to Congress on January 4, 1848 he said :
“[W]e have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race….”. (Provisions.)
An important late nineteenth century contributor to the foundation of geopolitics was German geographer Fredrick Ratzel. Trained as a biologist and advocate of political geography as a subdivision of natural science, he applied Darwinism to the functioning of states and concluded there was an organic process of evolution that lead Caucasians to compete to for Lebensraum “living space” in which strong states (whites) were healthy organism striving to acquire additional territory for the growing populations at the expense of their weaker neighbors (people of color). Fredrick Ratzel created the “Lebensraum” theory after visiting the U.S. in 1873 and seeing how effective “Manifest Destiny” was in expansion of territory and the eradication of indigenous peoples. “Lebenstraum”, Ratzel’s German version of “Manifest Destiny” was later adopted by Nazi Germany and lead to the holocaust. (Woodruff.)
Like internal deportation of Native Americans the Japanese were subjected to “internal deportation” into internment camps. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark writing about the embarrassing racism of the “internal deportation” of Japanese said: “The truth is—as this deplorable experience proves—that constitutions and laws are not sufficient of themselves…Despite the unequivocal language of the Constitution of the United States that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, and despite the Fifth Amendment’s command that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, both of these constitutional safeguards were denied by military action under Executive Order 9066.” (Conrat.)
Slave and cheap labor needed in America created immigration policies based on its desire to maintain the U.S. free of “lesser races” while still able to exploit cheap labor. The definition of deportation, an extension of “forcible removal” of people of color, is defined by West’s Encyclopedia of American Law is as follows:
“Banishment to a foreign country, attended with confiscation of property and deprivation of civil rights.” The grounds for deportation are set forth at 8 U.S.C.A. (section) § 1251, and the procedures are provided for in §§ 1252-1254.” (“Deportation.”)
Largely based on racism, the Chinese Exclusion Act called for the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Chinese people imposing quotas on the number of foreign (non-white) immigrants to the U.S.. In this “Act” to remove Chinese, the U.S. first established the right to legally discriminate against people based on race. In a UCLA Law Review article, titled “Segregation’s Last Stronghold: Race Discrimination and the Constitutional Law of Immigration”, Gabriel J. Chin noted that “ Chae Chan Ping v. U.S. and Fong Yue Ting v. U.S., – – the cases that established the plenary power doctrine and remain the leading cases – – upheld federal discrimination against immigrants based on race.” (“Segregations…”)
Another example of race discrimination in immigration is Operation Wetback where the U.S. forcibly removed millions of indigenous Mexican people, including many U.S. citizens, without due process of the law and while beating and harassing “Mexican looking” individuals. Lawsuits were settled in favor of victims. (“Race, Gender, and Punishment:…”)
Analyzing immigration policy at the state and federal levels in the present (like Arizona’s, Alabama’s, Georgia’s, etc.,) main stream media and respected human rights groups like: The Village Voice, the Cardozo Law School, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and MALDEF, have all exposed the Neo-Nazi ties of current immigration laws, all stemming from white supremacist eugenics leader, John Tanton. (video clip) + citations
I paid a great price in presenting this informative speech to you today. When presenting my outline to Ms. Gardner, I was informed my speech was “persuasive” and told to pick a different topic, even though she only listened to my introduction. I found the censorship of these facts, racist and reported this to my parents. In a meeting with my parents, Ms. Gardner was unable to identify which portion of this speech is not factual, while arguing that I could not give the speech because it was “controversial”. The dean, Tim Borchers, was called in and he too defended Ms. Gardner’s racist decision to censor my speech without either of them hearing it. Here is a clip of both Ms. Gardner, and Mr. Borchers arguing my speech is persuasive on the basis that it can be argued that all humans should be treated equally: “audio clip”. A copy of the full recording of the conversation will be available at (CITATION).
Cornered in their racism and advised that we had recorded the interaction, after finally allowing me to give my speech, the dean only asked me to change my original thesis statement: “In order to fulfill it’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection, America must eradicate its racist immigration policies based on subjugating and enslaving indigenous people.” to “Because America has racist immigration policies, it cannot fulfill it’s constitutional promises.” The next day, without seeing my new draft of the thesis, Ms. Gardner advised me in an email that if I chose to ignore her guidance, I could choose to be docked points on today’s speech. My family reported the retaliation to the dean, which resulted in MSUM’s diversity center to be brought in — not to defend me against the escalating racism — but to defend the actions of Ms. Gardner and Mr. Borchers.I have asked for a transfer out of Ms. Gardner’s class. As a final act of defiance against racism, I am giving my speech today with this additional information on my censorship by Ms. Gardner.
End racism. Encourage the truth!
I agree with the last comment – be sure and document everything in writing, not only your own letters, emails, recordings, etc., but also in the formal complain processes, whether they be at school, work, or through the legal system itself. Nothing will change unless people fight, and fight smart.
I found it hard to understand the audio here, so I can’t really comment on whether the speech was persuasive or informative, nor can I comment on the possibility that the topic itself was a factor in how the instructor reacted to what she claimed was an issue of persuasion vs. information. I do think that if the requirement was to be informative, the video used was inappropriate (best kept for a “persuasive speech” assignment).
But I also think it is important to use the formal process to respond to instances of discrimination. That means filing written complaints with the Department of Education OCR (as well as using the process provided by the university and/or the State of Minnesota). I acknowledge that these processes tend to favor the institutions themselves–but I still think they are critical. Regarding FPS, that institution has for years avoided implementing the complaint process it developed via a settlement with OCR several years ago, and also avoids anything that might constitute a statistical record of complaints. In response to an inquiry, Lowell Wolff left a message on my phone (I still have it) affirming that FPS does NOT keep any cumulative/statistical record or discrimination complains “because it is is so rare” that these things happen. Which means that any incident can be spun as an anomaly that has never happened before. Also, Margi Jakobson talked to one of the Title IX corordinators at FPS this past summer, and the coordinator told Margi that in fact the district never implements the formal complaint investigation process UNLESS there are indications the complainant will go to the school board (if word might get out, they have to make it look good?). I didn’t see anything in the paper to the effect that the district treated this as a formal discrimination complaint as opposed, say, to a staff disciplinary issue. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. We also do not know if the family was satisfied with the outcome. (As for the rosary, my thought is–don’t worry about what kids wear, just deal with conduct if that becomes an issue. After all, the same schools that purport to be concerned about overall gang activity historically wash their hands of bullying behavior if they can find a way to de-link it from the school system itself–“wasn’t on school property,” “happened outside of school hours”, “wasn’t our Facebook page”. Oh–and in terms of unconscious privilege, the decision by WF school to hold a memorial service for one student regarded as particularly special was really a bad decision–because there is no way that every student whose life ends at a young age will get a school-sponsored memorial service. Unbelievable they turned death into a kind of popularity contest but that’s what they did)
Way to go Sara!
I commend your guts to stand up and do this.