Mostly Black, Brown and Hispanic Everett High School students were brave to protest last week in front of city hall.
Black’s, Browns and Hispanics protesting publicly against the actions of white elected public officials here can be dangerous business, especially for young adults wanting to express themselves without getting themselves in trouble.
They came to protest the School Committee’s refusal to extend Superintendent Priya Tahiliani’s contract.
Mostly, they shouted in protest about the mayor, although six white members of the School Committee (including the mayor) refused to vote for Tahiliani, who is a woman of color.
Two members said they were refusing to vote for Tahiliani because so many people had reached out to them asking them to vote for her.
How’s that for logic?
Several others, including the mayor, said nothing but the word “no” when they were asked to vote.
Most surprising about this public display pushing back against what they believe is racism, is the response from the outside.
We now have a state government almost entirely headed by assertive women.
The Governor is a gay woman who called for former Councilor Anthony DiPierro to resign.
The Lt. Governor is a woman.
The Attorney General is a Black woman.
The US Attorney is Black.
The State Auditor is a woman.
All of these women should be tuned into accusations of racism and retaliation in a majority minority city where 85 % of the public school students are Black, Brown and Hispanic.
Yet not a word from any of them about the Everett school committee vote last week about the rejection of a woman of color who has done an admirable job of administering the public schools.
What possible excuses can this array of high powered, socially responsible, elected and appointed public officials hide behind to explain their utter and complete silence and disregard for a woman of color rejected for no valid reason with a lopsided and disturbing vote in a city plagued with racial incidents during the past four years?
The vote took place with a Federal probe ongoing into racism, discrimination and retaliation by the US Attorney’s office.
Is anyone watching? Does anyone care?
Many residents here concerned about the Federal probe and the harsh reality of racism and discrimination being practiced here by officials who ought to know better, do not understand this conspiracy of silence.
Does a woman of color being railroaded out of her job deserve support from high ranking public officials?
Is there some sort of code of silence going on we know nothing about that constrains them all from questioning the situation?
Why are they all, en masse, choosing to say nothing?
Is it not enough that the superintendent accused the mayor of racism, sexism and discrimination in a complaint she filed, and later withdrew from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
The expectation is that she will be filing a lawsuit in Superior Court against the mayor and the city for something approximating wrongful termination, racism and on and on.
Does anyone in government here care?
Not enough to speak up and to be heard.
Virtually all our elected public officials did not comment on Tahiliani being denied a contract extension despite good grades from all who voted against her during a recent appraisal of her competency.
We are told by lawyers that the School Committee members who voted against her do not have to provide reasons. We get that.
We don’t buy into it, however.
Without scrutiny from the outside nothing is going to change here.
Everett High School kids weren’t afraid to protest for a woman of color given a raw deal by the city government.
Why are the chief elected and appointed public officials in this state refusing to comment?
That is the question.