A school district in Newton, Massachusetts notified police and the city’s Human Rights Commission after a teacher received a “racist” note: It contained stickers spelling out “ALM” for “All Lives Matter.”
According to The Heights, a “teacher of color” at Charles Brown Middle School who’s been “active in educating on Black Lives Matter and promoting Black History Month” received the note on January 29.
Newton Police Department Civil Rights Officer Bruce Apotheker said the note was “obviously a targeted attack.”
According to Patch.com, Newton Public Schools Superintendent David Fleishman said “To be clear, th[is] is a direct attack on a staff member who’s doing terrific work, who supports our antiracism work, and an attack on Black Lives Matter and our whole community in the values we hold dear.”
Fleishman added Brown Middle Principal Kimberly Lysaght was “outraged” by the incident.
The Patch piece says “All Lives Matter” is a criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement and, citing a pair of university professors, notes it “has been condemned as racist and offensive.”
Griffith University’s Karen Stollznow, whose specialty is linguistics, says the phrase is a “racist dog whistle” and “far from an innocent term celebrating the worth of all humanity.” Critical race theorist David Theo Goldberg of the University of California claims “All Lives Matter” expresses “racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial.”
Although Apotheker said the note is “not technically a crime” and, if caught, the perpetrator could not be charged, the police are working with the district to hopefully get fingerprints and identify the culprit. Police notified the Human Rights Commission on February 11.
[Lysaght] recently shared details with the community last week and brought in the school’s director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Kathy Lopes, to work on healing the Brown staff and the Brown community.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do as a community if one of our leaders in our anti-racism work can’t feel safe as he works on important School Committee and district goals,” Fleishman said. “We are obviously doing what we can to support this staff member who feels a lot of pain and is really frightened and feels directly attacked. We stand with the Brown community. This is a reminder that this kind of hate doesn’t just happen in other communities but can happen here in our city and our school district.”
IMAGE: YouTube screencap