I am an African-American parent of an African-American/Caucasian/Native-American student at Santa Monica High School. We live in Santa Monica in a house owned by an African-American family that’s lived in Santa Monica for several generations. Our house is in a historically African-American neighborhood. I have lived here for 12 years. My youngest daughter was born in Santa Monica. My church is The Church In Ocean Park. That’s about as belonging here and being part of this community as it gets.

It grieves my spirit that people who don‚Äôt want Village Nation (“SMMUSD creates strategy to attack achievement gap,” Jan. 25) have stooped so low to attack the families and individuals who support the program. As for Caucasian people standing up to help African-American children, lest we forget the people who died for our civil rights. They are not all black. There were Caucasian Freedom Riders, people who registered voters, drove people of color in their cars during the Montgomery bus boycott, and Quakers who gave safe passage to slaves on the Underground Railroad. We enjoy our freedoms on the blood that they shed for us. As for the involvement of a church. The civil rights movement started in the church and we just celebrated The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

If these people who don’t want Village Nation know so much about closing the achievement gap, where are their books? When are they going to be on Oprah’s show? When are they going to be the keynote speaker for the superintendent of public education in California? When are they going to speak at the U.N. like Fluke Fluker, one of the founders of Village Nation?

If families don‚Äôt want their child to participate in Village Nation, there is an option. It‚Äôs called “opt out,” just like if you don‚Äôt want your child to drink chocolate milk at school.

Class dismissed!

Debra Shepherd

Santa Monica

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