A New York school board official complained that "anti-racist" lessons in the district hurt his feelings, and he questioned whether that term should be used.
Saratoga Springs school board member Dean Kolligian, along with fellow board member Erika Borman, found the term harsh and "quite concerning," and asked for further explanation before agreeing to the policy change, reported the Times Union.
"For someone who wants to completely understand what we are putting their name next to and signing off on, I hate to have to even hear the word racist or anti-racists," Kolligian said. "It bothers me, it pains me that we still live in a society that we have to discuss those terms for people who are minorities and again, challenging, to discuss for an individual that is not one. I just ask for an opportunity to understand the true definition of anti-racist language and actions."
Borman demanded to know "what exactly are we doing" if the board agreed to "anti-racist language and action" in school district policies, and fellow board member Natalya Lakhtakia, who's working with the district's 44-member Equity and Inclusion Committee's policy arm, tried to explain.
"Anti-racism is actively fighting to make things better for our kids, our students, our staff, our teachers, our administrators and we will do what it takes within our school system to end systems of oppression," Lakhtakia said.
But Kolligian, who was elected with Borman in 2019 as part of a push to rearm school monitors, complained the proposed language was too harsh -- and Lakhtakia told him that was the point.
"Racism is harsh," she said.
A local Facebook group warns that schools will teach white students that they're "born racist" and "colonizing oppressors," which civil rights activists and supportive parents have tried to explain is inaccurate.
"Anti-racism literally means being against racism," said elementary school parent Rebecca Lynch, who serves on the Equity and Inclusion Committee. "There is some sort of confusion about what anti-racism might mean or entail. What the district is working toward, advocating for is anti-racism. It shouldn't be a controversy."