Over the last few days, I have written on numerous occasions that the school board is all-white and have expressed concern about the board being tone deaf on their appointment process. What I did not know was that Alan Fernandes is in fact Filipino.
I made a mistake in so labelling Alan Fernandes and it represents an important learning point to which everyone can point. I should in fact know better. Our 16-year-old Malachi—many reading this have met him, if you didn’t know better, you would not know that he is in fact part Latino and part African American.
First let me say that I made a mistake and I need to own it and, to the extent that my mistake hurt Alan Fernandes, a man I deeply respect, I apologize.
Whether you agree or disagree with him, he has been a real leader on the board, especially with regard to getting the parcel tax passed. He has pushed his colleagues several times to ask the community for more funding and helped guide that decision, along with his colleague Joe DiNunzio.
On the other hand, it really does not change my overall assessment of the school board situation.
We have reached a pivotal point in our nation’s history. For a long time following the civil rights movement that culminated in the end of legalized discrimination, we have backslid in this nation—we have allowed for pockets of concentrated poverty in communities of color, we have allowed for mass incarceration to become the New Jim Crow, and in the last few years we have seen a resurgence of white supremacy and racial polarization.
But we are in a moment where we have opportunities to change that and this opportunity can become a blip on the radar or it could could become a moment when we can really push the process forward.
I was disappointed in the decision by the board because they had a rare moment where they had several very qualified women of color, on a board that had gained and lost two powerful women of color previously and a board that is otherwise composed of males.
Commenters had rightly suggested that, in previous times, the board really hasn’t had the opportunity to do what they could have done this week. I regret that they have passed up that opportunity. I have the same belief as before, but I should have framed my point slightly differently.
I want to make something clear and it is a point that Cindy Pickett made in our interview. This isn’t about Joy Klineberg—she is extremely qualified and will be an excellent board member. We should all be grateful that she has offered her services to this community.
Moreover, this isn’t about the other board members who have good intentions and are excellent people.
Cindy Pickett said her now-former colleagues “are doing their best.”
But we also need people who bring to the table different experiences. We are no longer merely a white district. The current demographics show that students are nearly evenly split between white and people of color.
So I think the quote from Maya Angelou is perfect: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
“There’s no blame or ill-will,” Cindy Pickett told me. “It should be a learning experience.”
That goes for me too. I will try to do better in the future. And I apologize to Alan Fernandes for missing the bigger picture.
—David M. Greenwald reporting