A leaked slide from an employee training course at the Goodyear Topeka plant revealed a discriminatory policy that allowed Black Lives Matter shirts and apparel to be worn by employees, but not Blue Lives Matter. Later, the company clarified that they ban all political speech outside racial justice and equity issues. But what are “racial justice” and “equity issues” if not political? The above video is a companion to the blog post “BLM, Goodyear, and the Censoring of Free Speech.” Thanks for watching.
by Christopher Paslay
Either ban all political slogans or provide an honest forum open to all perspectives.
There’s an old saying that used to govern corporate H.R. departments and most social gatherings: Don’t talk about religion or politics. Religion and politics — while extremely important and necessary — can be quite polarizing, and have the tendency to hurt feelings and damage friendships, and alienate employees and customers.
This hasn’t stopped corporate America (as well as schools and sports) from pumping-in politics by the boat-load, embedding partisan messaging and agendas in their products, services, and curriculum for all to see.
Recently the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company went down this slippery slope. A leaked slide from an employee training course at the Goodyear Topeka plant revealed a discriminatory policy that allowed Black Lives Matter shirts and apparel to be worn by employees, but not Blue Lives Matter (5 Dallas officers were shot and killed at a BLM protest in 2016) or All Lives Matter clothing. After Goodyear’s stock took a nosedive overnight, dropping more than 4%, the company scrambled to explain it was all simply a misunderstanding, that the slide was not representative of the national office, and that their policies do not allow for political speech in the workspace.
Goodyear issued a clarification, which said in part:
To be clear on our longstanding corporate policy, Goodyear has zero tolerance for any forms of harassment or discrimination. To enable a work environment free of those, we ask that associates refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.
Goodyear’s response lays bare the obvious political games America’s corporations (as well as schools and sports) are playing with semantics. What are “racial justice” and “equity issues” if not political? This obfuscating language is simply a way to deem some forms of political speech more legitimate than others, and is a tactic that’s being employed by many across America. While you may agree with the goal of equity and justice for all, you may choose to express this by believing All Lives Matter.
But this is not acceptable according to the gradians of today’s woke culture, a network of openly partisan gatekeepers who get to define terms and language (the way Robin DiAngelo has redefined “whiteness” to mean inherent racism), and who not only control which politics are deemed acceptable, but what even qualifies as “politics” at all; the political agenda underlying BLM is so deep, partisan, and well-funded, it’s ludicrous to suggest this organization/slogan is not political.
Mascaraing under the guise of “equity” and “racial justice” is the latest tactic to silence opposing political points of view while keeping other political agendas front and center. Chloe Clark, an English professor at Iowa State University, was forced to correct her syllabus after informing her students that they could not submit work that opposes Black Lives Matter, abortion, and other social issues. Although the university said in a statement that the syllabus “was inconsistent with the university’s standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students,” the fact that Clark felt she could openly censor free speech in such a manner is a cause for concern.
Earlier this summer Starbucks, in an effort to keep their image clean and stay out of the muck of political controversy, issued a policy that barred employees from engaging in political speech at work. The company explicitly stated that BLM attire was prohibited under its dress code policy, which did not allow for any kind of political expression to be worn, because it could incite violence, controversy, or unrest. Interestingly, this policy only lasted several days before the political might of BLM forced Starbucks to reverse its decision and announce its support of Black Lives Matter; all other forms of political expression, such as All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or Unborn Lives Matter, are still banned.
The NBA is perhaps the highest profile supporter of BLM, and one of the biggest censors of free speech it doesn’t agree with. The league has not only painted Black Lives Matter on their Orlando court, but also allows for players to wear the name of the activist organization on the backs of their jerseys as well, along with over a dozen approved so-called “social justice” slogans; these slogans all fall within the narrow window of perceived equity and racial justice, and the phrases All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and Unborn Lives Matter are prohibited.
The phrase Free Hong Kong is also banned. In an effort to bring awareness to the human rights atrocities being committed by the Chinese government against Hong Kong protesters in October of 2019 (such as police clubbing demonstrators and shooting teenage protesters), Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy demonstrators. The tweet tarnished the NBA’s extremely lucrative relationship with China, so Morey became an instant outcast.
Lebron James, at an effort at damage control, stated that Morey was “misinformed” or “not really educated,” suggesting that the clubbing and shooting of Hong Kong protesters by the Chinese police (and the fact that the Chinese Communist Party has arbitrarily detained between 1 million and 3 million Uighurs in so-called “reeducation centers” and forced them to undergo psychological indoctrination programs), was some kind of misunderstanding. Incredibly, when NBA fans tried to side with Hong Kong protesters and design “Free Hong Kong” NBA jerseys on-line, the NBA first blocked — then completely disabled — the personalized apparel option on its website.
The polarizing, agenda-driven BLM movement still has a home on NBA courts and player jerseys, however. But this kind of selective political censorship doesn’t sit well with everyone. Former NFL all-pro defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who is African American, said he thought the NBA painting “Black Lives Matter” on the court was a bad idea. He stated on the FOX Sports 1 show:
There’s a problem with when you start to go down this road of the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and how much social space is allowed for those who don’t support in that same space, and that’s where I wonder where this is going to go in terms of identity politics. We know what identity politics does: it divides and it polarizes.
Wiley also highlighted concerns over Black Lives Matter’s mission statement, whose goal is to “dismantle the patriarchy” and “disrupt the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.” Wiley explained many people have not taken time to read or understand BLM saying, “I don’t know how many people really look into the mission statement of Black Lives Matter, but I did, and when you look at it, there’s a couple things that jump out to me.”
According to The Federalist:
Wiley went on to explain why BLM is detrimental to Black families and personal success. He said that growing up, he observed friends who didn’t have intact family structures and they “found themselves outside of their dreams and goals and aspirations.” Wiley cited data backing up his observations about children raised in a single-parent home: “[They] are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 6 times more likely to be in poverty, 9 times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 20 times more likely to end up in prison, 32 times more likely to run away from home.”
These facts brought up by Wiley don’t seem to concern the NBA, or the NEA, for that matter; the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in America, has officially embraced the BLM movement, promoting BLM’s goals and mission statements in official BLM curriculum.
The ultimate issue, however, is not the agenda of BLM, but the limiting of free speech. Either ban all political slogans or provide an honest forum open to all perspectives. Doing otherwise is dishonest and un-American, and a violation of the First Amendment.
If you’re thinking of joining BLM’s Action Week in Philadelphia, you should reconsider.
My name is Christopher Paslay, a 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia School District, and I’m officially skipping the Black Lives Matter “Week of Action” planned for Philadelphia public schools. For two decades I’ve been a dedicated English teacher, mentor, and coach, and have written hundreds of articles demanding respect, equality, and justice for our children, communities, and schools.
But I won’t be wearing a BLM button or t-shirt next week, or implementing any BLM curriculum in my English classes (even though I have an M.Ed. in Multicultural Education).
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Students shouldn’t be shunned for supporting Trump or being Republican. Ironically, although “Diversity” is the first of BLM’s 13 “Guiding Principles,” which states they are committed to “acknowledging, respecting and celebrating differences and commonalities” which include race, religion, age, gender identity, sexual identity, economic status, and immigration status, nowhere in BLM’s 13 Guiding Principles do they acknowledge accepting differing political ideologies. In other words, it doesn’t appear that conservatives and/or Republicans are welcomed by this group.
Perhaps I’m misinterpreting BLM’s website and mission, and if I am, I apologize. However, after reading BLM’s calendar of events for their planned “Week of Action” in Philadelphia, it becomes quite clear that they have no tolerance for political diversity.
In a “kick off event” titled “Courage for Racial Justice in the Era of Trump,” which was scheduled for Friday, January 13, BLM’s discrimination is quite clear. The event description reads, In this time of mass incarceration, mass deportation, anti-Muslim sentiment, profound economic inequality, and the election of Trump, all of our social justice movements are coming together to build powerful resistance to the death culture. Additionally, people of all backgrounds are becoming active for the first time and looking for direction, as many are horrified by what the election of Trump means for our country.
The death culture? Strong words. So it’s obvious this “Week of Action” does not include any Philadelphia teacher, student, parent, or community member that voted for or supports Trump. This is quite interesting, because 105,418 people voted for Trump in the City of Philadelphia. 105,418. And apparently none of these Philadelphians are being made to feel welcome.
2. Students shouldn’t be taught to obsess over race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Sure, teens must be taught not to discriminate (consciously or unconsciously), but BLM’s fixation on race, religion, gender and sexuality is excessive and counterproductive. Teens should be taught to see people as people, and judge them by their character—not by their gender, skin color, etc. Viewing the world through the lens of various isms is unnatural and unhealthy.
For example, the BLM curriculum for Wednesday, 1/25, deals with the themes of “Queer Affirming” and “Trans Affirming,” and aims to teach teens to free themselves “from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking,” and to combat “trans-antagonistic violence.” Seriously? Instead of allowing our teens to naturally interact with one another and develop relationships organically, we’re going to burden them with such intellectual concepts as trans-antagonistic violence?
3. Students don’t need more lessons in rebellion and resistance. One of the central tactics of BLM is resistance and civil disobedience, as is documented by their disruptive (and sometimes destructive) past. Although there is value in learning about political activism, Philadelphia youth should master the skills of teamwork and collaboration before being exposed to the thrills of shutting down a highway via a protest rally or march. Interestingly, BLM’s city-wide MLK march scheduled for Monday, 1/16, calls for a day of “action” and “resistance”.
4. Students shouldn’t be taught to oppose Two-parent families. One of BLM’s 13 Guiding Principles, titled “Black Villages,” states, We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.
Why would BLM want to commit to disrupting the nuclear family when 40 years of educational research proves that children raised in two-parent families have higher academic achievement, better emotional health, and fewer behavioral problems than children born out of wedlock or raised “collectively” in alternative situations? I’m not sure. All I know is that BLM’s curriculum for Thursday, 1/26, addresses their “Black Village” theme which indeed calls for the disruption of nuclear families.
5. Students shouldn’t be taught to demonize those with opposing views. It’s clear that the 105,418 people who voted for Trump in Philadelphia are not accepted by BLM (or by the Caucus of Working Educators, who are co-hosting the “Week of Action”). The same goes for any Philadelphia teacher, student, parent, or community member who voted for Trump or supports him for any number of reasons. But it’s not enough that these Trump supporters and/or Republicans are rejected and ostracized, no; the various policies that they believe in and voted for must be defined as hateful.
“Join us in the necessary work to oppose policies based in hate,” states the itinerary for BLM’s city-wide MLK Day march.
6. Students shouldn’t be taught to glorify repressive dictators who violate humans rights. It’s no secret BLM glorifies Fidel Castro. According to Human Rights Watch, “During Castro’s rule, thousands of Cubans were incarcerated in abysmal prisons, thousands more were harassed and intimidated, and entire generations were denied basic political freedoms. . . . Many of the abusive tactics developed during his time in power – including surveillance, beatings, arbitrary detention, and public acts of repudiation – are still used by the Cuban government.”
What does BLM say about Castro’s recent death? “We are feeling many things as we awaken to a world without Fidel Castro. There is an overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety. Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” BLM posted on the internet after his death.
7. Students shouldn’t be taught to value some black lives more than others. BLM’s selective morality is troubling. What are our youth to think when young black lives are taken on a daily basis—mostly by other young black people—and BLM remains silent? When Philly youth die at the hands of gangbangers or drug dealers, and BLM are nowhere to be found? No marches. No rallies. No nothing. Day in, and day out. What are our students to think? That these black lives don’t count? In 2015 alone, nearly 6,000 blacks were killed by other blacks in the United States, and BLM didn’t say a word.
8. Students shouldn’t be taught by a group that was built and perpetuated on false narratives. BLM came to national attention when Michael Brown was reportedly shot and killed in cold blood—kneeling on the ground with his hands up—by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. I say reportedly because after the case was properly investigated, it was discovered that Brown was actually shot after punching Wilson in the face, and trying to take his gun. The Washington Post called the “hands up, don’t shoot” meme one of the biggest lies of 2015.
Another false narrative is the Trayvon Martin killing. After an investigation at the local, state, and federal level—and after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did all he could to nail Zimmerman on Civil Rights violations—it was discovered that George Zimmerman indeed shot Martin in self-defense . . . after, according to multiple witnesses, Martin knocked Zimmerman to the ground and was pounding his head on the cement. This doesn’t stop BLM from still propagating the myth that Martin was killed in cold blood by an angry white racist, who, by the way, isn’t white but Hispanic. According to the Caucus of Working Educators website which is promoting BLM’s Week of Action, “In 2012, Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman and the victim was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder.”
9. Students shouldn’t be taught by a group that celebrates JoAnn Chesimard, a convicted cop killer. Black Lives Matter co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi publically praise convicted cop killer JoAnn Chesimard, a.k.a. Assata Shakur, who is currently living in exile in Cuba and wanted by the FBI for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. Words from a letter Shakur wrote, titled “To My People,” have been recited at BLM meetings. Mumia Abu Jamal, H. Rap Brown, and George and Jonathan Jackson are also convicted cop killers that BLM activists have praised.
10. Students shouldn’t be used as political pawns. What is BLM’s “Week of Action” really about? Growing their organization by indoctrinating our city’s children with their “social justice” curriculum. Curriculum which, at the time of this writing, still doesn’t exist. I’ve looked for it on the internet far and wide—I’ve even clicked on the links provided by the Caucus of Working Educators—but it’s not there.
Perhaps it will be posted soon, so educators have adequate time to vet it. Either way, I won’t be teaching it. Nor will I be wearing the BLM buttons or shirts. I’m going to pass on BLM’s “Action Week,” and if I were a parent of a Philadelphia school student, I’d demand that my child’s teachers and principals pass on it, too.
by Christopher Paslay
New York City public school teachers should be ashamed of themselves. It’s one thing to campaign for a presidential candidate among colleagues, and quite another to politick in front of students.
Apparently, The United Federation of Teachers, NYC’s teacher’s union, doesn’t agree. According to a story by the Associated Press, “The Teacher’s union for the nation’s largest public school system accused the city on Friday of banning political campaign buttons and sued to reverse the policy, declaring that free speech rights were violated.”
The lawsuit was filed yesterday in a US District Court in Manhattan.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan quickly ruled against wearing the buttons, explaining that teachers must remain politically neutral while on duty in front of their students. The judge also added that although most students would understand that a campaign button worn by an educator represented the personal views of the teacher only, there would be “inevitable misrepresentations by the minority”.
As a public school teacher in Philadelphia, I’m shocked that any educator with a conscience would want to wear their political views on their shirtsleeve in front of their students.
For starters, it’s unethical. A public school teacher is an agent of the state, and therefore must not show any religious or political bias, one way or another. Just as teachers are forbidden to pray in front of students during instruction (even if it is for personal reasons), teachers should not advertise their personal politics to their classes by wearing a campaign button.
This in my opinion is intolerable, because students should be taught to make decisions about the world themselves. They should be given a balanced, objective representation of events, and be given the space to process this information on their own. Young people in grades K -12 are too innocent and impressionable to be exposed to the spin from only one side of the political spectrum; our children should be at least college-aged before they are politically indoctrinated by educators.
As a teacher, I never push my political views on young people. When my students ask, Mr. Paslay, who are you voting for?, I give them my stock answer: I haven’t decided yet. And when the presidential candidates come up in classroom conversation, I always make it a point to remain neutral and give equal attention to both parties.
The youth of America need to be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Educators must teach students critical thinking skills, not subtlety bait them into accepting the agendas of certain political parties.