The Education of Tribune Editorial Board Member Kristen McQueary

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member, Kristen McQueary is back at again. Remember this past August, when she wrote a piece titled “”? She didn’t realize how terribly offensive and racist her piece was. (The Tribune apparently realized that, as they went back and changed her piece, including the title, which is why I provided an original PDF of the article.) Many people throughout the city expressed their outrage and actually tried to educate Ms. McQueary, as to why her piece was offensive. I wrote a piece titled why “” to help her understand. Now 7 months later, it seems the education the residents of Chicago tried to provide is not sinking in. Because she is back at it again with her piece, “”. I tried to contact her, but Ms. McQueary, has blocked me on Twitter, and apparently does not like to be taught about her privilege and offensive comments.

So let us begin again, in the education of Tribune Editorial Board Member Kristen McQueary.

I pulled a few of her many quotes (I could’ve pulled many more) in her new piece, which most shows her need for an education. I will now direct the rest of this piece directly to you Kristen McQueary.

“Instead of focusing on improving education for Chicago kids, the union is the city’s latest command post for angst.”

Did you really just say that? You are saying Chicago’s teachers need to focus on improving education for the kids? Um, hello? Why do you think we were out in the streets on April 1st? We were trying to bring attention to the deplorable budget cuts that impact every student, parent, and person who works in schools in this city. Teachers are on the front lines daily. While you are downtown in your ivory tower. Many of us educators work and live in the communities that you hoped a hurricane would wipe out. When someone is shot in this city, who do you think is forced to counsel students and discuss their fears? Educators. Far too many counselors, social workers, and psychologists have been cut from the never ending budget cuts. So we educators have to help our students express their fears and pain. When Rahm closed 50 schools in 2013, we had to teach our students that they are not failures, just because CPS called their grammar schools failing and closed them. Every bad thing that happens in this city, we have to talk to our students about. So to state plainly or even imply for a second that teachers need to focus on improving education for our students, is one of the most offensive not to mention uneducated things you can say to or about educators.

“Chicago cops have been the target of some of that angst since November when the release of a video showing a white cop shooting a black teenager ignited protests over lack of accountability within the Chicago Police Department.”

Yes, as CPD should be. Chicago police killed Laquan McDonald by shooting him 16 times and then you know what happened to Officer Jason Van Dyke who shot Laquan? Jail? Nope, he got a job with the .  CPD operated a secret detention site in where they would illegally detain and interrogate primarily Black citizens for years. The Guardian did a huge expose on it, in case you missed it. shot and killed unarmed Rekia Boyd in 2012, he was found not guilty and still has a job with CPD. Police officers instead of speaking up and out about the terrible things that have happened are staying quiet and covering up the abuses and murders by police. There is a lot of research out right now, as to the racist past and present of the Chicago Police. that just came out that says, “Chicago Police have no regards for the lives of minorities”.

Now Ms. McQueary, ask yourself this? Who do you think works with the people who are targeted by the police on a daily basis? That’s right, it is us, educators. We hear stories daily in our classrooms of police abuses against our students. As one of my favorite Chicago teacher’s Xian Barrett said to me, “There’s no way to create a safe, sharing classroom in CPS and NOT hear students’ fear and/or awful experiences with Chicago Police.”

Kristen, I honestly understand your struggle of not believing that police do terrible things to Black youth. Kristen like you I, I am white, and like you, because we are white we have the privilege of not having many negative interactions with the police. But all you need to do is listen to Black youth about their grievances with the police (well first you might want to try to not be racist, because otherwise no one will feel comfortable enough to even want to talk to you).

Kristen, I wrote a piece last week that explained how . Many teachers at first did not feel like the timing was right for Page’s comments, but then many of us, I know I did, really had to reflect on her comments.

As a Social Studies teacher I had to remember that even Dr. King was told that he was moving too fast, his ideas were not timed right, and to just wait. When he was locked in a Birmingham jail, a group of white religious leaders wrote a newspaper op-ed about asking him and the Civil Rights Movement to slow down. King’s response turned out to be one of the most important documents during the Civil Rights Movement, “”.  Kristen you know how we white people love to quote King, but the idea of a movement like Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights or any other movement is to push thinking and force change. That is what Page’s comments at the rally are doing.

As you end your piece Kristen, you say, “The double standard is palpable”. I couldn’t agree with that last sentence more, for you, the double standard is palpable. You sit up in your Tribune ivory tower and write about things that you know nothing about, like education and how tragic events like a Hurricane would be good for Chicago.

But even worse, you write about things that you apparently have no desire to even learn about. That is the issue. You are just too comfortable. You refuse to challenge yourself and learn about your privilege. That is why people call you racist.

You have two choices, continue to be the fragile white person that is shocked when someone categorizes you as racist OR (this is the better option) you can really try to educate yourself. As I mentioned in my response to your Wishing for a Katrina piece in August, I suggested a starting point for you would be the  by Peggy McIntosh, which details and explains white privilege and how it benefits all white people all the time.  Read books by Lisa Delpit, Theresa Perry, Beverly Daniel-Tatum, Howard Zinn, Bell Hooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates and many more authors. Even better, actually listen and hear the messages of the Black Lives Matter movement — or in your case, any black person who would take the time to try to educate you.

As a white person to another white person, your whiteness is holding your writing back. You need to not ask why the CTU didn’t rebuke the “F*ck the Police” comment, instead you need to ask why that comment was said. Interview , or someone from the. Educate yourself Kristen. Because your current lack of education is damaging your career as well as this city.

Black Lives Matter Educates Chicago’s Teachers

Towards the end of a powerful day of striking across this city on April 1st, Page May, leader of , a black women’s empowerment group, came on stage at the CTU led rally at the Thompson Center and proudly said, “”

Her three words have caused a tidal wave of discussions in this city among all groups of people. Many of these discussions have been necessary and difficult. Sadly, some of these discussions have made her the target of terribly racist and violent threats.

Since the rally that Page spoke at, was in large part a rally, we teachers have been forced to talk amongst ourselves, in person, on social media, and list serves about her three words, the meaning and the implications.

Many teachers have said things like, “That was not the place to make a statement like that. April 1st was about building unity to fight Rauner and Rahm and her comments created divisiveness, not unity, during what was an otherwise powerful day.” Or “We need to work with other public sector union employees, like the police in our struggle to get more funding, but now the police hate us.”

We blamed her essentially for putting a black cloud over what was “our” beautiful event.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has been successful at bringing issues of police brutality to the forefront of the American conversation over the past few years. Educators as a whole have been receptive and supportive of the movement.

But this comment has pushed us educators to discuss the movement in ways that many of us never have.

This is the apparent beauty of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

We teachers are on the front lines, advocating for our students, our schools, and communities. We consider ourselves forward thinking, social justice orientated, and anti-racist.

that the teaching profession has become more and more white, which means we (white educators) also do not know what it is like to deal with the police the way our students do, day in and day out.

I struggled with Page’s comment too at first. I thought to myself the timing wasn’t right, the event wasn’t right, maybe she wasn’t right, because surely there are many good police officers too. I have not had very many negative experiences with the police. When I call the police they come and they don’t bother me unless I am doing something that I shouldn’t be.

These three words, “F*ck the Police” have made me re-examine all of that.

I have current and former students who have shared story upon story of police abuses with me. I know that many of the situations that my students share with me, my students were not doing anything wrong and did not deserve the police encounter. But somewhere deep inside my brain, sometimes my privilege creeps. It whispers things like, “surely they must have done something or the police wouldn’t have bothered them”, but then my Chicago education (taught to me by students) overpowers that privileged thought and I hear my students saying to me, “Mr. Stieber all I did was walk down the street, while being black”.

If you live in Chicago are young and black you deal with the police or are tense because of the police daily. I only have to deal with this tension when I choose to listen to black youth.

In my mind I was trying to operate in a world where police and black youth could exist in the same space. Thanks to Page I am beginning to see differently. I know realize that if we teachers cared as much about why so many of our black students have a hatred towards the police to begin with, as we do to Page saying, “F*ck the police” at a rally, we would be much closer to stopping police brutality.

Many more discussions need to be had, but the Black Lives Matter movement (led in Chicago by , Assata’s Daughters and others) as a whole sees to it that all white people have to grapple with these issues, even when we don’t think it is appropriate or timed right.

Read this on Huffington Post: