We Will Not Rest Until Justice is Served

We will not rest until justice is served. Stay up to date on the NAACP's work on the ground at naacp.org/ferguson

Saturday, August 16, 2014, 1:00 pm Amherst Town Common

2nd Annual "Summer Soiree"

Even if you will be out of the area or have other plans please help spread the news and invite all those on your contacts list.

SUNDAY AUG. 3, 2014 Noon to 3:00 pm  
Groff Park Pavilion 
​Off West St./Rt 116
Amherst, MA​

Join ​the Amherst Area NAACP for this exciting opportunity to join together to celebrate each other and our successes! 
  • Pat Onanibaku updates on Parent Rights in schools
  • Lani & Sovann-Malis update on standardized testing options. 

This is also an opportunity for all anti-racism/social justice workers to come together to talk, review and plan forward movement.   Bring your calendars.

Each family is asked to bring their own family's meal and a little to share. Utensils, plates,cups etc.will be supplied. 

This date is ahead of the final Massachusetts voter registration deadline so, in keeping with our NAACP mission, there will be an opportunity for people to register and sign-up to help ​others​ register.

Please help spread the word by forwarding this announcement to others you know. And be sure to visit our Amherst NAACP website and "Like us" on Facebook

Donations accepted! 

To Our Amherst Community

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The recent memo from our School Committee chairs denouncing Dr. Shabazz’s recent comments at a meeting of the Equity Task Force comes across as an incitant document.  It is an example of what many social justice-anti-racism professional practitioners could describe as an example of white power. This, as we can now witness, can be quite unsettling and feels irresponsible. One of Amherst’s district  policies is to not only hire but retain staff of color in our schools. Yet district leaders seem to work against this stated goal.  The memo from our S.C. chairs, whether inspired by Dr. Shabazz's critical superintendent evaluation or some other reason, adds to a level of distrust many members of our community already experience when interacting with district leaders.  

What is happening to our students, all of our students, in our Amherst schools displays systemic racial and class bias not isolated, unrelated incidents.  And, over the years our ARHS students of color and white students have documented such practices. As Amherst students continue their education from elementary to high school our district they will continually be taught nearly all topics and subjects from a [favorable to] Eurocentric perspective.  Students will witness their mostly white teachers more harshly disciplining their classmates of color for the same or similar behaviors the same white teacher will ignore in white students.  Our district has over a decade of data documenting this behavior on the part of our educators.  In this situation students of color are at a definite power imbalance to object to this frequent and consistent discrimination and in fact may be disciplined for objecting.  All the while our white students are observing and learning from the examples adults present to them.  These behaviors model to future adults who then feel empowered to continue perpetuating habits of race and class bias among next generations.  This creates a hostile and unsafe situation for all of our kids.

It is important to understand and remember that our district is supposed to have staff that can support the multicultural social justice mission espoused. When white educators continually and persistently demonize students of color, and white students continue to witness their teacher's behavior, our district is creating a hostile and unsafe situation. This is what Dr. Shabazz referred to during the June 18th Equity Task Force meeting.  We need district leaders, educators and staff with the competence to practice our mission everyday.
Kathleen Anderson, Pres. Amherst Area NAACP
One of those present during the June 18th meeting.


School leaders must explain responses, plans on racist acts

"The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro" A Communal Reading of a Lecture by Frederick Douglass

On September 3, 1838, Frederick Bailey undertook the riskiest journey of his life. The 20-year-old slave made a daring escape from his master in Baltimore, and with his newfound freedom came a new name—Frederick Douglass.

Join us as members of our community gather together to present this lecture.

Saturday, June 28, 2014
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Amherst Town Common
frederick douglass

Sponsors: AFSC, Amherst Human Rights Commission, Amherst NAACP, David Ruggles Center, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, Leverett Peace Commission, Mass Humanities, Mass Slavery Apology Project, NE Peace Pagoda, Peacenet, Project Unspeakable, Sankofa Foundation of the Pioneer Valley, Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and Traprock Peace Center. 

Voices From The Community

Time to Find the Real Criminals at ARHS

Watching the latest School Committee meeting on TV, I found out that the police interrogated several Crocker Farm School parents in connection with a recent lockdown. They continued their investigation even after the reason (mistaken identity) was clear to all and it was obvious that the parents had nothing to do with the incident. I wonder if this is the best way for our law enforcement to use their resources. It seems that their attention and time would be better used to find the criminals who commit the racial harassments over and over at the high school. If the police who are trained to find seasoned criminals can not solve these crimes, it is time to bring the FBI in to get to the end of this problem and assure the town that our teachers can be safe from racist attacks. We constantly talk about safety in the schools. How can anyone, especially students feel safe in a building knowing that even their teachers can not be protected from these heinous crimes in our schools?

Then, to "Opinion" Daily Hampshire Gazette:

A Sharpie Does Not Slash Tires

"I was reading your guest column "Lightening up our Amherst Angst" by a high school senior with great disappointment. The letter suggest that our community should not be offended  so much by the racial attacks on our teacher. "Maybe an angry kid with a sharpie is just an angry kid with a sharpie" the letter suggests. The acts of slashing a teacher's tires, sawing the leg of someone's chair, so it would collapse when one set on it are not done with a sharpie. Although the additional threatening and demeaning words and notes addressing a respectable teacher at the high-school are, they are not just offensive but frightening as well.  They are hate speech and racial harassment and are punishable crimes weather done by children or grownups. Students can not feel safe in a school knowing that even their teacher can not be protected by bullying."

Agnes Zsigmondi

Voices From The Community

Lunch Detention ~Time Served

                                           Detention camp
standing on their entry ramp
where the sun is refused its shine
domino figures all waiting in
a loosely composed forward facing line
shortly you become
encased in stacked, colored, bricks
strategically entwined
with electric fake light
with others who are white
one told him I can fight~I can fight you on sight
they come from nearby surrounding towns
outdated, phased out, fertile farms
mansion prized homes in the woods
(all aspiring for the great american goods)
our children gathered here in arms
that scold you for being bold
not accepting of their rules
not adapting to their school's
prison like set ups
military teachers in false get ups
so you'd better not question
your detention boy
lest another now be given~gives the detainer
their daily dose of encrusted, dripping, joy
detention, you're detained
they are telling you are not the same
while the cafeteria awaits
a time looked forward of social grace, of smiles exchanged
of laughter lost, and gained
but detention segregates
and teaches lookers on to hate~detainees
because you see~it has been a set up from grade three
your name doesn't matter anymore
you've entered their trap, and there isn't a door
out ~of the clatter~of their collective voices
giving you none of the same choices
of your white counterpart, of their disengaging heart
only one door now awaits
unless we pray you can escape~the other side
a pipe lined, rusted, arch that bangs shut with unbearable screeches
unheard pitches, of dark bleakness
leading you~directing you, teaching others that this is for you
to another brick encased space that will further suck your mind
                     as you serve out their unjust incessant time.
@Mary Lou Conca                                           ~Written 12/12/12

Voices from the Community

“Talking White”: How Racial Superiority Seeps Into Our Language
Christopher Peck

Racism is still alive, but some wish to declare it dead. Intellectuals, politicians and TV personalities discuss racial oppression like it’s an endangered species. The denial runs deep; and its roots cling to the foundation of our society: language.

Whenever I ask another white person how they would define racism I get a vague, disjointed and vastly different answer each time. For some, even mentioning racial difference is taboo. Others say racism is illustrated in separate water fountains and sitting in the back of the bus. It happened a “long time ago” and we’ve moved on. Others rant emphatically that racism is when white people are “passed over for a job they gave to a less qualified black guy.” I firmly believe that’s the most persistent impediment to racial equity and justice. Nobody knows what racism is.

We should not lose sight of the symbolic weight that language carries. Whoever controls language holds the power—the power to possess the right answers, to declare oppositions wrong and to alter and diminish the meaning of others’ experiences. This leads directly to the delusion and entitlement of white students. They respond defensively when their worldview is questioned and deflect responsibility because their superiority has been validated by their education. Because we as a society have failed to define racism for them they not only refuse to acknowledge the impact of race, they reinforce the cycle. It represents our nation’s attitudes of ignorance and disregard towards the plight of people of color as a whole that we do not have an impenetrable meaning attached to the word racism. And yet, there are symbols sustaining white supremacy, loaded with racist implications engrained in our everyday speech.

As a white man, I won’t pretend that I hold all the answers. Instead I’ve chosen to develop a compassionate ear. I’ve spent the latter third of my life listening to testimonies from people of color. Unsurprisingly, they have profound things to say about how growing up with darker skin has impacted them across all institutions. While their experiences may differ, there’s agreement on the source of their struggle. The People’s Institute For Survival and Beyond has generated this definition.

Racism—n. Racial prejudice + institutional power. A system of oppression maintained by institutions and cultural ‘norms’ that exploit, control, and oppress People of Color in order to maintain a position of social supremacy and privilege for white people.

It is important to emphasize then that although a white person can be discriminated against individually based on their race, racism is specifically the upholding of white supremacy at the expense of people of color as a group.

The next definition I will share from the People’s Institute is one regarding Internalized Racial Superiority:

n. The acceptance of and acting out of a superior definition, rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. This process of empowerment and access expresses itself as unearned privileges, access to institutional power and invisible advantages based upon race.

As I alluded to, language becomes like the post office worker for delivering this “superior definition.” And our school system has become the USPS of racist codes.

Subtle racist codes were rampant during my high school days and still are from what I’ve observed. As someone socialized as white, I understand how white people are conditioned to not think of themselves as “white.” Race was a non-issue, until a person of color brought it up. My teachers would use the term “race card” as a way of “stopping conflict.” Any racial grievance was unsubstantiated.

Another notion that enforces white supremacy is how white people depict “affirmative action.” Too many college-bound white students see scholarships designed for so-called “minorities” as unjust. Their parents coddle them with accusations of “reverse racism” as the reason they “lost their spot,” instilling the impression that they deserved admission. The statistics don’t support this hypothesis that white students are “losing” spots. White women are the number one beneficiaries of “affirmative action.” The aim of the legislation is not limited to racial quotas, its goal is overall diversity. It’s an unfortunate linguistic consequence that an admirable aim like diversity has been stained by white supremacist discourse as a buzz word for social engineering. Blame is placed on diversification for economic downfall and unemployment. Why would trying to include a range of perspectives, backgrounds and knowledge lead the workforce into decline? As progress has marched on, racism has evolved. The way in which white people express their racism has morphed into this coded language. Except the targets of this hateful rhetoric, and their allies, are not fooled.

Often these codes will be conveyed as compliments, shrouding the stereotypes they are legitimizing. A white youth will tell their black peer that they “talk white.” That white student will further explain that they mean their peer “talks properly,” and “sounds smart.” In other words, to be black is to be improper and uneducated. “Ghetto” still pops into my head after hearing it too often during my suburban upbringing. Its historical meaning as a noun has been warped into a violent adjective. To describe something as “ghetto” is to suggest it is of lesser quality. You’re implying that something looks or functions as if it’s “off the streets.” It’s also a label similar to “hip-hop” that can be attached to any trend or style that is attributed to the black, Latino or urban community. Essentially, it gives white kids an excuse to differentiate their material wealth from that of children of color. Even while more white, middle class teenagers are consuming hip-hop music, clothing and culture than any other racial group, language does them the favor of distinguishing their social superiority. “Black” is just a fad to them, not a rich and tumultuous history of perseverance and innovation. And THAT truly says it all.