Black Lives Matter Allies – Salute to the Allies

Salute to the Allies:  Our most sincere way of thanking those who help fight systematic racism.  Black Belonging Matters recognizes that the Black Lives Matter Movement needs allies in the fight to end systematic racism.  We are grateful for those acts, big and small, that will eventually bring about change.  “Salute to The Allies” will be a regular column.

Our first “Salute” is to Lillian White, a former art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills, a public charter school in San Antonio, Texas.  Ms. White was fired for wearing a mask with the words, “Black Lives Matter” on one side of the mask, and the words “Silence is Violence” on the other side.

The school’s administration asked Ms. White to stop wearing the mask because the school year was going to begin, and parents would be on campus.   Ms. White refused, and was fired.

Black Lives Matter is a Human Rights Issue

This is a human rights issue and I did it for my students who experience racial injustice in school.  I refused to back down,” she told CNN.  She continued, “If you’re scared about what parents are going to say because a teacher is supporting equal rights, you need to re-evaluate the kind of people you’re catering to.  By staying silent, Great Hearts is only supporting racist parents.”

Great Hearts has since issued a statement, noting “Great Hearts is committed to an America where racism, violence, and injustice do not happen, because such acts find no home in the hearts of a great people.”


Why This Matters

Black Belonging Matters cannot overstate the importance of teachers who are willing to strongly support their Black students.  Approximately 80% of public school teachers in the United States were white.  Depending on region, many minority students can complete 12 years of public school without having even one minority teacher.

According to  KIPP, America’s largest network of charter schools, “Research suggests that all students benefit from regular exposure to Black teachers.”  Further,  KIPP notes, “It is well-documented that Black students, who are regularly cited for lagging behind their white counterparts academically, actually perform better when taught by teachers of the same race.  Kids do better when they’re taught by teachers who look like them.”


School To Prison Pipeline

According to Education Next, “Students are less likely to be removed from school [suspended or expelled] as punishment when they and their teachers are the same race.”  Ms. White’s statement regarding students experiencing racial injustice in schools is not hyperbole.

Consider the following statistics from New York School Talk

  • 40% of students expelled from U.S. schools each year are Black
  • 70% of students involved in “in-school” arrests or referred to law enforcement are Black or Latino
  • Blacks and Latinos make up 61% of the incarcerated population, but only 30% of the U.S. population
  • Black students are 3 1/2 times more likely to be suspended than white students
  • Black and Latino students are twice as likely not to graduate high school as whites
  • 68% of  all males in state and federal prison do not have a high school diploma

Suspensions and expulsions of students create what is known as the school to prison pipeline.  For Black students, the school to prison pipeline begins as early as preschool!  Black preschoolers are more than three times as likely to be suspended than their white peers.”

Black Belonging Matters is committed to improving diversity throughout all fields of employment, including, improving diversity amongst those who educate our children.  However, while the work is being done to improve diversity (and diversity doesn’t improve overnight), our allies are of critical importance.

Ms. White continues to fight for her students.  She started a petition, demanding that Great Hearts implement an anti-racism plan.

Black Belonging Matters salutes Lillian White, and all the Black Lives Matter Allies.

Link to original story CNN 


Having diverse teachers improves student outcomes. The Black Lives Matter movement needs allies.  Thank you to the teachers who stand up and support their students.  Black Belonging Matters can help improve diversity at your place of business by reviewing our service offerings.