Racial Discrimination in Knoxville, TN

We are a black and white family with 8 "mixed" children from Chicago living in Tn. We have had problems with Northshore and Knox County schools.

My family and I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee because of a job transfer five years ago. My kids were enrolled in Northshore and Knox County schools. We had four children in North shore Elementary School at one time, now we have 3. We have two children in high school, one child in Middle School.  Northshore Elementary was a brand new school, it will be 3 years old this summer.

They always ask for dads to be involved in school and education of their children. For those first 2 years, I was in the school multiple times a week helping out in the cafeteria, reading to different classes (even ones my children weren’t a part of), was the celebrity reader on special days, I was the voice of the Northshore Knight (mascot), part of the District Advisory Council and I even started the dad’s group and did a breakfast at the end of each school year called “Dads and Doughnuts” where kids got to spend time with their dads before school started. This was done out of my pocket or with donations not part of the PTA.

I can list the things that I was involved in. However, I could tell that were a few staff members that did not like it that I was around. Was it because I was a Black male, parent or in a biracial relationship? I don’t know.

We lost our resource officer in August, the beginning of the school year. He was killed by a DUI driver, it broke our hearts. Then we had a new resource officer and Principal. The new Principal who I believe is very much an administrator almost like a dictator who doesn’t understand that he’s supposed to serve the school not the other way around.

Whenever I exit or enter the school,the resource officer was there. I never experienced that before.

It’s sad when the principal and the school system accuse a multicultural father of hate speech and discriminating against someone. I find this odd because I have been the one on the receiving end of the discriminations. The school system for years has had a problem with me and my family because we are not confused on who the parents are and who works for whom.

The Principal and the front office staff had done many things to try to eliminate us out of the school. A lot of people don’t want to step into the mix or make mention of “other cards” that are out there, you hear a lot about race card you hear a lot about blacklivesmatter and bluelivesmatter, but what happens when the school Community, school leaders and Principal accuse a Black man who’s a Christian of hate speech or discriminatory practices?That’s the GAY Card.

It steps into an area that I believe that we being Black Americans can’t address our white counterparts without it being labeled as hate speech, whether it is the truth or not. I am of the mindset that the civil rights movement of the African Americans is totally different not on the same page chapter or book of other “protected classes”. “We didn’t have the privilege of the closet”. I would hope that the community stands with me and my family.

Now we have three separate offices of civil rights issues that the office of civil rights has decided to investigate, one is for discrimination and two are for retaliation.

They wrote to me trying to tell me I have no freedom of speech after I sent in an complaint. Yes, on school system letter head. This was sent to me after all of my involvement and how the community knows me.

We have had the Knox County TN school system wait us out, not respond to us and pass us along to someone else or play smoke and mirrors and not really deal with the issues. Many times all they had to do was correct the staff involved and apologize, but we’ve seen arrogance and self-absorption cloud judgment.

This all affected my children. These biracial children deal with prejudices when civil rights were about “us” it was for them, it was from their forefathers, it was for them not to be dealing with these things.

African-Americans are the culmination of these rights. Our children from these biracial relationships should benefit from this TOO. Our children as others show the beauty when humans of different cultures come together.

Author: Sharlés Johnson

Read the full story here

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