Community leaders outraged over Vallas' anti-Black History remarks – The Chicago Cusader

Johnson, Starks, Davis speak on Vallas’ remark, “Black history ‘distracts’ from quality education”
Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson Thursday, March 2, blasted challenger Paul Vallas’ anti-Black History remarks, made during a 2021 podcast of “The Dialogue,” where he said he feared teaching African American history in public schools would be detrimental to white students and their families.
Johnson called Vallas’ remarks, “Dehumanizing and discriminatory” toward Black children in Chicago Public Schools.
“In the episode, Vallas repeatedly dismisses the value of African American history, suggesting it harms the relationship between students and parents, and that teaching Black history gives Black youth justification to lead a life of crime,” Johnson said in a press statement.
“Chicagoans are starting to learn who the true Paul Vallas is, a man who does not respect Black people, our history or our daily experiences,” said Johnson.
“Between his policies leading CPS, his racist dog whistles on public safety issues, the hateful, right-wing extremists he associates with, his tweets and now this podcast, we see that Paul Vallas is never going to be someone who represents the interests of the diverse city we call home. Black and Brown Chicagoans won’t be fooled.”
Outraged over anti-Black history remarks Vallas says would harm white children and their families, Northeastern University Professor Emeritus Robert Starks on Saturday, March 4, said he is “terrified” Vallas may become mayor of Chicago, with that kind of Republican thinking.
“This is right out of the Governor Ron DeSantis playbook,” said Starks.
“The whole idea is that you cannot say anything that might make white children in school feel guilty, but nobody has talked about the fact that African American children feel guilty when they learn about slavery.
“Nobody talks about the oppression in Africa on the part of colonial whites, the continued discrimination, the shooting by policemen of Blacks or about the lynchings. We’re not supposed to feel guilty about that,” Starks said.
“At this same time, how can you say that all of that is the cause of African American kids being criminals,” Starks asked.
“That’s insane. How do you explain the criminality on the part of white kids? Is it therefore that because they have all of these privileges that gives them the right to be criminals?”
Starks and Representative Danny K. Davis (D-27th) were shocked and insulted over Vallas’ public remarks that were tweeted by Illinois Senator Robert Peters (13) who warned people “not to listen to Vallas but to hear his words.”
Davis and Starks were referring to Senator Peters’ tweet, posted Thursday, March 2, between an unnamed radio host and Vallas, concerning the teaching of Black history.
This is the exact transcript recording of that interview:
Host: “I often wonder if you’re a Black kid, why wouldn’t you become a criminal if you’re hearing this stuff in school. Everybody with white skin is an oppressor. If you have black skin, you are with the oppressed. That makes it pretty easy to justify pretty bad conduct in my opinion.”
Vallas: “You’re absolutely right. You are also doing…. You’re giving people an excuse for bad behavior. You’re almost justifying it.”
Host: What has been the effect on that and on educational standards generally?”
Vallas: “Number one, when it distracts from quality instruction in the course curriculum, which it is, because we seem to be preoccupied, too much focusing on those things rather than on focusing on our core curriculum, our standards suffer.
Vallas: “When you introduce a curriculum that is not only divisive but a curriculum that further undermines the relationship of children with their parents, with their families, that is a dangerous thing.
Vallas: “And, for white parents, how are you going to discipline your child when your child comes home and your child had basically been told that their generation, their race, their parents, their grandparents have discriminated against others and somehow minimized another person’s race? For that matter, if you are a Black child, how do you go home and listen to your parent when your parent has failed to be successful?”
You can listen to the podcast episode here.
Referring to the time when Vallas was the CEO of CPS under then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, Starks said Vallas was there when Daley “abolished the truancy program inside of the public schools. I am convinced that at least 80 to 90 percent of the kids engaging in criminality, violence and shootings are kids who have been either pushed out or dropped out of public schools.
“There is no way we can track them because the truancy program is non-existent. We don’t know who is in and who is out,” Starks said.
“We have public schools, in some cases, at 20, 30 percent of their capacity, but we don’t have libraries, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. What the heck is going on?
“How does this man, who is supposed to be an education expert and guru who went around from Chicago to New Orleans and Philadelphia talking about private schools and charter schools, which I am diametrically opposed to, say he cares about African American children and yet is against Black History?” Starks asked.
On Vallas’ being a mayoral candidate, Starks said, “I am terrified because here is a man who started the destruction of the Black public schools in Chicago, followed up by his good friend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Vallas is still an old-time Richard Daley Democratic person, following that model and supported by the old-fashion Democratic machine and the people pushing the idea that we need more police. That is not what we need. We need more education. We need a truancy program and more schools to be restored so that Black kids can go to school,” Starks said.
Agreeing, Davis said Vallas’ answers “represent a lack of understanding. The truth is more important than dancing around the issue of racism and what it has done to this country. Children need to understand both parts. They need to understand that yes racism has existed but of course that is no excuse for unacceptable behavior and for unacceptable thinking.
“We do a disservice to our country if we eliminate any parts of truth,” Davis said.
“The real truth becomes an excuse for a lie or filtering the truth becomes excused for a lie…. Truth crushed to the earth will rise again. Know ye the truth and the truth will set you free.” Davis said he is not “impressed” with Vallas’ remarks.
In rejecting Vallas’ attempts to whitewash Black history, Starks likened Vallas’ remarks to Republican Governor DeSantis’ rejection of Florida’s state-mandated African American Studies curriculum.
Starks was referring to DeSantis’ “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act that opposes the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Starks said Vallas’ remarks echo those of DeSantis’ opposition to CRT, including demands to remove reparations, Black Lives Matter, and other Black history topics from Florida’s 1994 state-mandated Black History curriculum.
Starks pointed to DeSantis, who is exploring a run for the presidency, saying, “In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory. We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.
“We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards. Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination,” DeSantis stated.
An educator for 50 years, Starks said Vallas’ anti-Black history remarks “are taken right out of the DeSantis playbook. The whole idea is that you cannot say anything, it might not say anything, if it may make white kids feel guilty.”
Already under fire for coming to Elmhurst, IL to meet with members of the Fraternal Order of Police who have endorsed Vallas for mayor, Vallas’ remarks only turned up the heat on his efforts to garner Black support.
But while Johnson was out-of-town over the weekend, Vallas picked up an endorsement from Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) who said Vallas “can get the job done.” Davis said he disagrees with Burnett’s assumption that Vallas “can get the job done.”
However, Burnett’s colleague, Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) said, “We can choose to elect Brandon Johnson, a candidate who represents a growing, diverse coalition focused on working class families and everyday parents and residents, or we can elect a man who constantly degrades and disrespects the perspectives of all working-class people.
“Elected officials need to come together and do everything we can to call out what we see and prevent Paul Vallas from becoming mayor,” said Dowell.

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