"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
An open letter to Rep. Jon Hubbard
My name is Clayton Lust, I am a PhD candidate in history at the University of Houston. I recently read comments attributed to you on arktimes.com, and to say I was horrified is an understatement. I have spent the last nine years teaching at the college level attempting to correct interpretations such as yours, which I quote here:
"The institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth."
Slavery was never a "blessing in disguise." Abomination is the accurate description. Historians examined the ship manifests of 27,000 voyages of slave ships over a 300-plus year period. It's estimated that 12 million Africans came to the new world enslaved aboard those ships. But roughly 20 percent of those on the ships died en route through the 1600s, and 10-15 percent died during the 1700s, putting the numbers loaded on to those ships conservatively at 17.5 million. However, before being put on board a ship those bound for slavery were kept in pens along the western coast of Africa (after being put through forced marches from central Africa), where half died before they ever got on a ship. That would put the number of people ripped from their homes and bound for slavery at 34-35 million. This however only accounts for the slave trade in western Africa of enslaved people bound for the new world. It doesn't account for a slave trade of people bound from western Africa to the rest of the world, nor does it account for those enslaved through the trade on the eastern coast of Africa. Those numbers would undoubtedly double the 34-35 million.
Slavery was a holocaust. There is no blessing in disguise. To suggest "Hey, it worked out in the end" is simply unbelievable because it did NOT work out in the end. We still have underdevelopment as a consequence of slavery; we still have real racial issues and lack of rights, opportunities, and equality as a consequence of this institution — and this is both here in the "greatest nation ever established" as well as in Africa.
Clayton E. Lust
The Arkansas Times article ('I just want them to stop ...' Sept. 19) that released some of the results of a study conducted by Dr. Terry Trevino-Richard, sociology professor at UALR, was deeply troubling. We join with others in saying that the treatment of Latino students as reported by Dr. Trevino-Richard should not be tolerated and the Little Rock School District has a responsibility to address it. We stand with and support Latino families who are acting to protect their children. We encourage Latino families to continue to inform school officials when their children complain of being bullied, harassed or otherwise mistreated by other students, regardless of the students' race or ethnicity. We go one step further, however, and say that no student should be treated in the manner described in the Trevino-Richard study.
We were also troubled, therefore, by the one-sidedness of the article in painting all Latino students as victims and all black students, particularly black males, as predators. This depiction is racially divisive and contrary even to some of the evidence only slightly mentioned by the story's authors, including that black female students were also subjected to "sexual harassment." Similarly, in recent discussions with Dr. Trevino-Richard and a review of some of his results, it is clear that some whites and Latinos, particularly males, were also predators, although given the demographic at the schools with a large majority being black students, it is not surprising, although still very disturbing, that blacks would outnumber whites and Latinos.
Finally, the study suggests a need for the even-handed enforcement across race and gender of the LRSD anti-bullying regulations and other regulations that protect and fairly discipline students. As importantly, it supports a call for the development of programs that will work with students across racial, ethnic, religious and gender groups (by gender groups we mean to include sexual orientation and gender identity) to increase the acceptance of different cultures and minimize the racial, ethnic and gender tensions that exist in the schools. This requires that school administrators, teachers and staff model the behavior for the children. And, thus, leads to an important conclusion that school employees need cross-cultural training including training in recognizing when treatment of any student is based on race, ethnicity or gender and not on conduct. It is the responsibility of ALL, administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and students, to create a school community where every student is safe.
It is time to stop placing blame, and to move on to working together for solutions. We urge the school administrators, researchers and community to use the information conveyed in the article and the study to commit or recommit to creating an Arkansas educational environment that is healthy and affirming for all students that debunks harmful stereotypes and fosters respect for people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro Director, UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity
Arkansas State Advisory Commission, United States Commission on Civil Rights
Archie Hearne, M.D.
Nell Matthews President, League of Women Voters, Pulaski County
Randi M. Romo Executive Director, CAR — A Vehicle for Change
Executive Director, Just Communities of Arkansas
Executive Director, ACLU of Arkansas
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