Mom of First Nations kids protests school board posters scapegoating whites

'They singled out one race to boost another,' said the mother, whose kids have been victims of racism.
Fri Mar 9, 2018 - 4:07 pm EST
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A poster displayed at Kumsheen Secondary School in Lytton, British Columbia Facebook

LYTTON, British Columbia, Canada, March 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A mother has taken to social media to protest the anti-white angle of a school board’s racism awareness campaign.

Kansas Field Allen asked her son to bring home photographs of the anti-racism posters that had appeared at his school, Kumsheen Secondary School in Lytton, British Columbia. Some of the posters showcase grim-faced school administrators from School District 74 and their beliefs about racism. Others ask “Got privilege?” or state, “I cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege I am part of,” and “If you don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.”

Allen posted photos of the posters to Facebook and indicated that she was going to make a complaint. Her protest soon caught the attention of national media, including the CBC.

Allen, who is married to a First Nations man, has three children, all of whom carry First Nations status cards.

First Nations people, once called “Indians” or “American Indians,” are entitled to certain benefits and rights under Canadian law.

Her primary objection to the campaign, Allen told LifeSiteNews, is that it doesn’t take into consideration mixed race families like her own.

“They singled out one race to boost another,” she said.

Teresa Downs, the superintendent for School District 74, told the CBC that the posters had been inspired by a similar campaign in Saskatoon. She herself is a model for one of the posters, alongside the caption “I have unfairly benefited from the colour of my skin. White privilege is not acceptable.”

Allen finds this unconvincing.

“There are many factors in [Downs’] life that could have led to [where she is],” she said.

She agreed that it was “very possible” that children would get the impression that Downs became superintendent because she was white.

“Adults are assuming that,” Allen said. “When asked about her ‘benefits,’ [Downs’] first comment was that she was [able] to buy a flesh-coloured band-aid to match her skin tone. Really? That’s her first thought?”

The Allen family have themselves experienced racism. White people have questioned Allen’s decision to marry a First Nations man, and First Nations people have asked her husband why he married her. The couple will celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary this year.

“Racism is out there for sure,” Allen told LifeSiteNews. “My middle daughter went through that as a young girl because she is a bit lighter skinned. She was harassed on the school bus and told to ‘go home to your white mama.’ She took it in stride, and when we spoke about it, she was okay. I think she was about ten at the time.”

Allen, who has taught her children that they are both white and First Nations, whatever their status cards say, would like Teresa Downs to remove the “white privilege” posters from schools, apologize, and talk to students about their concerns. One student, she said, said that he felt ashamed to be white when he saw the posters.

“That’s so sad,” Allen said, “and no student should feel shame in school.”

Her own son, who is currently in Grade 9, found it hard to talk to her about the campaign.

“When I asked him what he thought the poster said, he replied, ‘it’s like directing hate at the white man, Mama,’” she recalled. “And he had a hard time saying the words. He bent his head down.”

“Everything I’ve taught at our home was questioned [by the posters],” she observed. “Thank goodness I have smart children. But my children are all older: what about the younger kids?”

The anti-racism poster campaign of School District 74 covers every school in British Columbia’s Gold Trail district, encompassing not only Allen’s son’s high school, but her grandchildren’s elementary school.

The concept of “white privilege” doesn’t make sense to Allen. In fact, as a white wife and mother, she is at a slight disadvantage in her community.

“I can’t get a decent dental plan because I am deemed a single person with no dependents,” she said. “My hubby and children have dental from First Nations Medical … but First Nations doesn’t recognize me because I am not First Nations.”

Kansas Allen says that she is getting a lot of support for her online protest against School District 74’s posters about “white privilege,” including a remark from a band chief that the posters are wrong on many levels. But even more importantly, she has support at home.

“My husband and I were talking [about this] last night, and I asked him if he ever saw me as a ‘white girl’ he was dating before we married. He said, ‘never.’ I was just ‘Kans’.”

  first nations, kansas field allen, racism

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