Congratulations to the school board directors in our school districts in both Bucks and Montgomery counties, including North Penn School District, Wissahickon, Pennridge, Central Bucks and Council Rock, where voters sent a clear message to the censoring, fear mongering zealots who promote intimidation, and misinformation, letting them know that distortion of history and denying children their rights to true and accurate educational experiences in our schools will not be tolerated. The United States is a pluralistic country, a country of immigrants from world nations. All families, irrespective of their identities – ethnic, race, religion, gender or socio-economic background, and their children should be welcome in our schools. Our diversity is a beautiful thing, and it contributes to our strength and pre-eminence on the world stage. Therefore, our schools should embrace the diversity of students and their families and foster a welcoming and inclusive environment where no student experiences prejudice, discrimination or unjust draconian discipline but encouraged to realize their full potential.
Pennsylvanian voters showed on Tuesday, 7 November 2023, that we can work together to uphold American democracy by advancing racial equity and social justice. We must stand up with most Americans who oppose banning books and demand the right to an honest and comprehensive education for children in our schools. According to the American Library Association, an overwhelming number of Americans (71% of Americans, 75% – of Democrats, 58% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans) reject book banning (Large majorities of voters oppose book bans and have confidence in libraries | News and Press Center (ala.org)). Yet right-wing extremists within our governments and institutions continue to undermine this wide consensus about banning books with divers ethnic and LGBTQ themes and characters and prohibiting discussion of systemic racism, inequality, and injustice from our classrooms.
We, at the Coalition4Justice, are pleased that on November 7, 2023, voters in Bucks and Montgomery Counties rendered their verdict and sent a strong message that children have the freedom to read, the right to learn and be prepared to succeed in a challenging world and that our schools should not be turned into political theatres at the expense of an honest, comprehensive education for children. We are also proud to be a part of the grassroots organizations that worked to get out the vote. At the core of our vision and mission of racial equality and social justice is the right to Black history, knowledge, and books. Therefore, the right-wing censorship and misinformation about Critical Race Theory, gender identity, along with rampant book banning are assaults on a child’s right to learn and a serious threat to our democracy.
Coalition for Racial Equity and Social Justice (Coalition4Justice) is a 501(c)(3), grassroots community advocacy organization committed to the dismantling of structural inequality and injustice. The Coalition aims to transform public discourse and policy through knowledge acquisition, and by exposing the conventional perspectives about those who are systemically oppressed and marginalized in the United States. We provide a safe space for meaningful and authentic public dialogue as a means of promoting and advancing equality and justice and creating transformational personal and institutional change. We are the movement hub for advancing racial equality and justice, and we are playing a significant role in shaping the discourse on Diversity, Equality, Inclusion, and Injustice (DEIJ) and eliminating the structural barriers that continue to disempower marginalized communities in America.
~Bernadine Ahonkhai, Ed. D
Founder/President & CEO, Coalition4Justice