Racism in the Greece schools: Intervi...

Racism in the Greece schools: Interview with John Niles

There are 62 comments on the Rochester IMC story from May 4, 2009, titled Racism in the Greece schools: Interview with John Niles. In it, Rochester IMC reports that:

This interview is a follow-up to the Greece Central School District: Zero African American Teachers, Why? which discusses how "The Greece Central School District located in Greece, New York is the 8th largest school district in the state, with 20% African American students and zero African American regular full time teachers." It also discusses ...

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Rochester IMC.

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The Man

United States

#1 May 4, 2009
John Niles sounds like a first class douchebag.

maddog2008

Since: Sep 08

Medina, NY

#2 May 4, 2009
People should NOT be hired because of their race.If they can't do the job-oh well.There should not be any law that says you must hire a certain % of any race.By the way I don't care what race they are if they can do the job.
jerry

Webster, NY

#3 May 4, 2009
If you were black, hispanic, asian, a woman, middle eastern, then you wouldnt be saying that.

maddog2008

Since: Sep 08

Medina, NY

#4 May 4, 2009
jerry wrote:
If you were black, hispanic, asian, a woman, middle eastern, then you wouldnt be saying that.
How do you know that I'm not? Are we just a little too much liberal Jerry?
Mario Cerame

Rochester, NY

#5 May 7, 2009
I met the gentleman, and he was not at all what I expected. He is a savvy, older gentleman, very well spoken, and quite articulate.

I have quite a bit of teaching experience. I did my student teaching in Harlem. I have taught in Monticello, Binghamton, and a number of other districts.(I am white, by the way). In my professional experience, his story is all together too credible.

There are at least two serious injustices here. First, there is little doubt to me that he was punished on the basis of race. He asked some genuine questions about why he wasn't hired, and was retaliated against for it. The current articles in the paper don't tell half of it (more will come out--I promise). He was also punished unjustly for complying with directives in the handbook issued by the district.

Further, I will professionally tell you that maintaining a cultural, ethnic, and racial gap like this will be harmful to both the students of color as well as the white students. White students are deprived of seeing and experiencing black folks in positions of authority and respect--they only see such in secondary and servile roles. This is a real disservice, and will stunt the cultural intelligence of students and propagate institutionalized racism in the future because of their lack of a full, liberal (in the non political sense) education. Of course it is a disservice to the 20% minority students--the cultural intelligence of the school is extraordinarily wanting. Even beyond the lack of role models and identity--the administration will continue to be baffled about how to improve because of this vast ethnic and cultural gap between school leadership and students who are (un)served.

Lastly, there is an issue in Greece that needs correction. It is clear that when a black folks asked how many black teachers there are, the district has no problem saying "0." They did this multiple times. But when a white reporter from the D&C calls and asks how many teachers of color there are, suddenly there are nine (which is still a pathetically small number for the eighth largest school district in NYS--less than 1%). I am citing an isolated issue, but there is an institutional disrespect at play here that needs correction.

The children of Greece will repeat what they bear witness too. John Niles action took great courage. He has quite literally put his career in serious jeopardy for broader social justice.

He does not yet have an attorney, but we are looking into securing him one immediately.
Greece Teen

United States

#6 May 7, 2009
I think the hood should stay right where they come from the city so all that trash dont mess up my life
Mario Cerame

Rochester, NY

#7 May 7, 2009
Well miss/young man, we are talking about a teacher, not even the student body; nevertheless, your bias on the basis of ethnicity that you hold could be indicative of a larger cultural matter at your school, which points toward the problem at hand.

Perhaps if you had some good role models who happened to also be people of color, instead of only seeing such people every day in secondary roles, your attitude could be otherwise. But as it is, you give a perfect example of the disservice you are receiving in your education in terms of cultural literacy.
Hopeful

United States

#8 May 7, 2009
I thought affirmative action was over now since we have a black president.
lordofthisworld

Rochester, NY

#9 May 8, 2009
Mario Cerame wrote:
Well miss/young man, we are talking about a teacher, not even the student body; nevertheless, your bias on the basis of ethnicity that you hold could be indicative of a larger cultural matter at your school, which points toward the problem at hand.
Perhaps if you had some good role models who happened to also be people of color, instead of only seeing such people every day in secondary roles, your attitude could be otherwise. But as it is, you give a perfect example of the disservice you are receiving in your education in terms of cultural literacy.
Then if race doesn't matter - or shouldn't matter - why keep bringing it up? Could it be to fit your own agenda?
I'll say it before, and I'll say it again:
If you are Caucasian, do not criticize the African American, for if you do, you are deemed racist.
lordofthisworld

Rochester, NY

#10 May 8, 2009
Mario Cerame wrote:
Well miss/young man, we are talking about a teacher, not even the student body; nevertheless, your bias on the basis of ethnicity that you hold could be indicative of a larger cultural matter at your school, which points toward the problem at hand.
Perhaps if you had some good role models who happened to also be people of color, instead of only seeing such people every day in secondary roles, your attitude could be otherwise. But as it is, you give a perfect example of the disservice you are receiving in your education in terms of cultural literacy.
PLUS...
...do you believe that minorities - and I mean ANY minority - cannot be accused of being racist?

Here's a law which is in the books. The scenario goes as follows:

Two people are having a verbal disagreement; one white, one black. As the argument heats up, the white man/woman calls the other the 'n' word. The black man/woman then physically assaults the other. Who gets in trouble? The white, for he/she caused the reaction by using 'hate speech.'

I've always wondered; what's the criteria African Americans use to label someone racist?

(I know all of this is grammatically incorrect and hard to comprehend. I have a tendency to write in stream of consciousness.)
Greece Teen

United States

#11 May 8, 2009
the minorities cause the racism by placing themselves above everyone ...

Im asian

Im Latino

Im Afro Ameri

Im Im Im

who cares, u label urself thats why ur hated
The Man

United States

#12 May 8, 2009
Mario Cerame wrote:
Well miss/young man, we are talking about a teacher, not even the student body; nevertheless, your bias on the basis of ethnicity that you hold could be indicative of a larger cultural matter at your school, which points toward the problem at hand.
Perhaps if you had some good role models who happened to also be people of color, instead of only seeing such people every day in secondary roles, your attitude could be otherwise. But as it is, you give a perfect example of the disservice you are receiving in your education in terms of cultural literacy.
You are also an idiot.
sparkle

Rochester, NY

#13 May 8, 2009
The Man wrote:
John Niles sounds like a first class douchebag.
I also met and spoke with John Niles for the first time - yesterday - as well as learning more behind the scenes about the case from others. I am a white woman. He is a gentleman, concerned about his students, about teaching well, and about helping his students succeed. He is also not getting a fair shake from many of you who are reading these posts, as well as from some folks in Greece. I encourage those of you who have not met John, only know what you read in the newspapers, and assume the worst, to find out the facts before you rush to judgement. I'm glad I did. By the way - I usually like to fully identify myself with anything I write - to hold myself responsible for what I say. However, the lack of compassion, and the viciousness with which some of those have written, led me to fear for my safety and therefore not be willing to identify myself. Just because we write electronically, that does not give us permission to forget the core adage for humanity - we are all brothers and sisters, and lets treat each other that way.
Major

Farmington, NY

#14 May 9, 2009
Greece Teen wrote:
the minorities cause the racism by placing themselves above everyone ...
Im asian
Im Latino
Im Afro Ameri
Im Im Im
who cares, u label urself thats why ur hated
Yeah identifying yourself and you're culture is clearly the reason racism exists…
Mario Cerame

Rochester, NY

#15 May 11, 2009
lordofthisworld wrote:
<quoted text>
Then if race doesn't matter - or shouldn't matter - why keep bringing it up? Could it be to fit your own agenda?
Ethnicity and cultural literacy does matter.

It does fit my agenda, absolutely, as an advocate for change in education. I am a white male. You can see my facebook profile at:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php...

Message me and I will gladly send you my CV if you'd like to evaluate it.
Mario Cerame

Rochester, NY

#16 May 11, 2009
Certainly, I am being less anonymous than the other posters who resort to ad hominems to defend a perspective, which is just evidence that they have no substance to argue. Their flaccid positions only endorse the opposition. Sorry, but it's true.
The Man

United States

#17 May 11, 2009
sparkle wrote:
<quoted text>
I also met and spoke with John Niles for the first time - yesterday - as well as learning more behind the scenes about the case from others. I am a white woman. He is a gentleman, concerned about his students, about teaching well, and about helping his students succeed. He is also not getting a fair shake from many of you who are reading these posts, as well as from some folks in Greece. I encourage those of you who have not met John, only know what you read in the newspapers, and assume the worst, to find out the facts before you rush to judgement. I'm glad I did. By the way - I usually like to fully identify myself with anything I write - to hold myself responsible for what I say. However, the lack of compassion, and the viciousness with which some of those have written, led me to fear for my safety and therefore not be willing to identify myself. Just because we write electronically, that does not give us permission to forget the core adage for humanity - we are all brothers and sisters, and lets treat each other that way.
You are also clueless.
lordofthisworld

Rochester, NY

#18 May 11, 2009
Mario Cerame wrote:
Certainly, I am being less anonymous than the other posters who resort to ad hominems to defend a perspective, which is just evidence that they have no substance to argue. Their flaccid positions only endorse the opposition. Sorry, but it's true.
So your basically calling everyone stupid. Fine. I'll take that. I'm stupid.

What good is ethnicity and cultural education going to teach us? What culture should we be learning about? We're supposed to teach ethnicity? To who? People who don't KNOW their ethnicity?

What I'm getting from this interview: that The Greece Central School District is racist AND, probably the people who live there as well. I never will understand how the f*ck can someone can just waltz into someplace - anyplace - and make racist accusations, and even if they are unfounded charges the person and or persons will be labeled 'racist' for the rest of their lives.

Culture education? How about this: a large population of the African American community believe that all whites are racist. Said and done. Is that a racist comment? I don't even know what the word means anymore.

Culture education? Don't say anything negative about African Americans or their culture. You will be a racist if you do. Is that the education?

All this being said, do you think my statements are 'racist?'
Mario Cerame

Rochester, NY

#19 May 11, 2009
lordofthisworld wrote:
<quoted text>
So your basically calling everyone stupid.[/quote]

Nope, not at all. I don't think you're stupid. I disagree with you but I have no reason to think you're stupid. I think posting anonymously and dropping personal attacks is a weak argument (as some have done and continue to do) and demonstrates an argument to be weak--that's my point. Resorting to some of the juvenile nonsense I see here just supports Mr. Nile's position.

[quote]What good is ethnicity and cultural education going to teach us?[/quote]

Well, it's a global world now, for one thing. To engage in the best jobs of the future, cultural literacy will be more and more crucial. Period. There's a functionalist view for you.

Here's another: failing to convey cultural literacy will give young people a poor sense of degree and appropriateness. Their relative ignorance may result in actions that are actionable in the legal sense, but they will not understand "why" what was done was "wrong," because they lack a well rounded cultural literacy. This is a disservice to young people.

Now here's a more humanist one. Cultural literacy is important because it's crucial to the makeup of effective, thinking citizens, and thereby important for a working, multi-ethnic democracy, especially in the leadership of the free world that America is.

I could go on. I invite you and anyone else to come (anonymously if you want) to the School Board meeting at Greece Apollo school Tuesday, May 12. The meeting starts at 6:30, and about 7:00 will be time for community members to give comments. I am scheduled to speak, and if you'd like we can chat more there. I promise I won't attack you, humiliate you, and will just have a polite discourse with you. I am short and will be in a black suit with a blue shirt and tie. Feel free to approach me or observe anonymously. I have a trimmed beard and am heavy set.

[quote]I never will understand how the f*ck can someone can just waltz into someplace - anyplace - and make racist accusations[/quote]

Actually, he didn't make accusations. He asked why he wasn't interviewed for a position, with his considerable experience and years in the district. He didn't get a direct, substantive answer. He then asked if race was a factor. He was immediately fired. That's how it went down the first time, and that's against the law. They knew that, so they rehired him immediately, and stalked him and produced several impossible (quite impossible) claims against him to fire him a second time.

Now, consider this math: there are 1200 teachers in Greece, and 9 (or 0, depending on what day you ask) of them are people of color. Now why is that? Fully 20% of Greece students are students of color--thousands of children. Why the disparity?

How could we expect students to respect another ethnicity when they have never seen or experienced a person of a different ethnicity in a position of power? That's part of cultural literacy.

A number of your questions are hard to nail down. I'm not sure what you're asking or where you're going--it seems a bit rambled (sorry). I sense that you're frustrated and upset. But here, I can address this:
[quote]All this being said, do you think my statements are 'racist?'
I think they are charged. I don't know your intent, and your post doesn't have any meaningful results to measure if there are any racist results, so it's hard for me to evaluate that query. You'd be a better judge than I, honestly.

However, I can say that the *situation* in Greece is one where there is an unfair disparity on racial and ethnic matters in employment. That is a meaningful result we can measure, and if their policy isn't racist in intent, the result is one of racial disparity that could be rectified by reasonable choices the district refuses to make.

The children deserve better. All of the children.

Since: May 09

Rochester, NY

#20 May 11, 2009
lordofthisworld wrote:
your basically calling everyone stupid.
Nope, not at all. I don't think you're stupid. I disagree with you but I have no reason to think you're stupid. I think posting anonymously and dropping personal attacks is a weak argument (as some have done and continue to do) and demonstrates an argument to be weak--that's my point. Resorting to some of the juvenile nonsense I see here just supports Mr. Nile's position.
What good is ethnicity and cultural education going to teach us?
Well, it's a global world now, for one thing. To engage in the best jobs of the future, cultural literacy will be more and more crucial. Period. There's a functionalist view for you.
Here's another: failing to convey cultural literacy will give young people a poor sense of degree and appropriateness. Their relative ignorance may result in actions that are actionable in the legal sense, but they will not understand "why" what was done was "wrong," because they lack a well rounded cultural literacy. This is a disservice to young people.
Now here's a more humanist one. Cultural literacy is important because it's crucial to the makeup of effective, thinking citizens, and thereby important for a working, multi-ethnic democracy, especially in the leadership of the free world that America is.
I could go on. I invite you and anyone else to come (anonymously if you want) to the School Board meeting at Greece Apollo Middle School Tuesday, May 12. The meeting starts at 6:30, and about 7:00 will be time for community members to give comments. I am scheduled to speak, and if you'd like we can chat more there. I promise I won't attack you, humiliate you, and will just have a polite discourse with you. I am short and will be in a black suit with a blue shirt and tie. Feel free to approach me or observe anonymously. I have a trimmed beard and am moderately heavy set.
I never will understand how the f*ck can someone can just waltz into someplace - anyplace - and make racist accusations
Actually, he didn't level accusations. He asked why he wasn't interviewed for a position, with his considerable experience and years in the district. He didn't get a direct, substantive answer. He then asked if race was a factor. He was immediately fired. That's how it went down the first time, and that's against the law. They knew that, so they rehired him immediately, and stalked him and produced several impossible (quite impossible) claims against him to fire him a second time.
Now, consider this math: there are 1200 teachers in Greece, and 9 (or 0, depending on what day you ask) of them are people of color. Now why is that? Fully 20% of Greece students are students of color--thousands of children. Why the disparity?
How could we expect students to respect another ethnicity when they have never seen or experienced a person of a different ethnicity in a position of power? That's part of cultural literacy.
A number of your questions are hard to nail down. I'm not sure what you're asking or where you're going--it seems a bit rambled (sorry). I sense that you're frustrated and upset. But here, I can address this:
All this being said, do you think my statements are 'racist?'
I think they are charged. It's hard for me to say if your comments are racist, because I'm considering intent and results. I don't know your intent, and your post doesn't have any meaningful results to measure if there are any racist results, so it's hard for me to evaluate that query. You'd be a better judge than I, honestly.
However, I can say that the *situation* in Greece is one where there is an unfair disparity on racial and ethnic matters in employment. That is a meaningful result we can measure, and if their policy isn't racist in intent, the result is one of racial disparity that could be rectified by reasonable choices the district refuses to make.
The children deserve better. All of the children.

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