Thursday, February 8, 2018

Is Black Lives Matter Divisive, as Leroy Barr Claims?

There is a lot of controversy swirling around the MORE resolution at the January DA and the blow back the union is receiving and their response by attacking MORE. I have issues with both the UFT's position and the way MORE has presented the issue and will go into more depth in followups because this issue scratches at flaws in Unity, the UFT and in MORE.

Throughout this debate I feel I have two opposing forces on my shoulders arguing with each other. Yin-Yang.

MORE is claiming repression of debate. Unity is claiming MORE is engaging in dishonest and misleading statements by indicating the union doesn't support BLM when it was really against the MORE reso. But Leroy Barr did not specifically argue about what in the reso was divisive but lumped it all into BLM as being divisive.

Below is a piece I wrote over the weekend for the Another View newsletter I put out with some other MORE members and some who are not very enamored of MORE at this point. At least 2 MORE people whose partners are people of color and UFT members told me their partners oppose the MORE reso. Yet that debate does not take place in MORE at all -- so when MORE declares the UFT only debated the issue for 5 minutes it would be interesting to see MORE debate the fallout and not assume unanimity. There is a meeting Saturday so let's see.

I will add more on upcoming posts as the issue develops.

Read the DoeNuts Blog view by a MORE member:
BEWARE of those who start fires - "Low blows" and "cheap shots" are taken by both parties involved... http://nycdoenuts.blogspot.com/2018/02/beware-of-those-who-start-fires.html
And NYCEducator, another MORE member:
http://nyceducator.com/2018/02/unity-publicly-humiliated-goes-straight.html

Here is my piece.

From Another View Newsletter - Feb. 2018

Is Black Lives Matter Divisive, as Leroy Barr Claims?
By Norm Scott

At the January Delegate Assembly the argument that BLM was divisive and in the time of Janus was a dangerous place to go was the basis of Barr’s and the leadership’s opposition to the MORE-UFT Caucus’ resolution calling on the UFT to support Black Lives Matter week (Feb. 5-11) which educators from a number of NYC schools are participating in. BLM has often been misinterpreted, leading to the perception that it might be divisive. February is Black History month for decades and we recently celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday. For some people, even UFT members, these events might be divisive and often the reason is race-based. Let’s not act like this doesn’t exist in our own ranks. The job of a union where many of its members are people of color who have been discriminated against, and with a student population that is 80% children of color, is not to duck the issue but to take it on and address why some members question BLM.

As a member of MORE I have questioned the process by which MORE decided to bring the resolution to the DA, given that back in December, Leroy Barr and Janella Hinds, both Black, told a MORE leader that the union would not support the resolution because they considered it divisive. Could some compromise have been worked out? Should MORE have gone to the schools and ask for chapters to back the reso as a way to build more grass roots support? Why did a number of delegates who are Black vote against the reso? Was it solely because many are adhering to the Unity line? All questions worth exploring.

(See the NY1 story on the reso featuring myself and Jia Lee at: http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/education/2018/01/26/black-lives-matter-debate-splits-teachers--union
and MORE response to Barr: https://tinyurl.com/ya6ofavn).

As for Barr’s justifying the union’s position on BLM as analogous to not taking a position during the Vietnam War, if you saw the Ken Burns documentary, or lived through those times as a UFT member there is way more to the story. See my blog: https://tinyurl.com/y9vh4p7q

MORE response: We Want a Union That Believes Black Lives Matter - https://morecaucusnyc.org/2018/02/02/we-want-a-union-that-believes-black-lives-matter/

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