When post-racialism and education collide

by Anti-Racist Parent contributor Margie Perscheid

I read a disturbing post at Angry Asian Man this morning; the original article is here: Student rejects ‘demeaning’ test, is suspended. Please go read.

At the center of the controversy is Lori Phanachone, a young woman described in the article this way:

Lori Phanachone is a member of the National Honor Society, has a 3.9 grade point average and ranks seventh in the senior class of about 119 at Storm Lake High School.

Lori has been suspended. Her scholarships are threatened. She has been counseled to just lie about her first language, which she rightfully has refused to do. The injustice is so clear, so overwhelming, that it was shocking, really to see the following comment right up at the top of the list:

If you are going to fight for injustice in this world then at least make it a fight for a worthwhile cause.

How someone could miss such an obvious wrong is mind-boggling. I take this comment to mean that this person either believes racism no longer exists, or that fighting it isn’t a worthy endeavor. Makes no difference: whether these attitudes stem from deeply-engrained beliefs or post-election nonsense, they’re both dangerous. Lori’s situation provides a frightening example why.

I can look within my own family for proof. My husband’s first language isn’t English. In college, where we met, he was required on college forms to identify his first language, and he answered honestly. No one ever required him to prove his English proficiency.

He is white, however, and his first language is German, a European language. With the same language proficiency but a different face, I have no doubt that he could have experienced what Lori Phanachone is experiencing now.

Shame on Storm Lake High School and the Storm Lake Board of Education. Bravo, Lori, for taking a stand! We’re standing with you!

Many thanks to Angry Asian Man for providing contact information at Storm Lake High. Contact them to share your outrage and show your support for Lori.

Paul Tedesco – Storm Lake School District Superintendent

Mike Hanna – Principal

Beau Ruleaux – Assistant Principal

Storm Lake High School phone number : (712) 732-8065

Margie Perscheid is the adoptive mother of two Korean teens. She is a co-founder of Korean Focus, an organization for families with children from Korea with chapters across the country. Margie is on the Board of Directors of the Korean American Coalition DC Chapter, a former board member of KAAN, the Korean YMCA of Greater Washington (now KAYA), and ASIA (Adoption Service Information Agency). Margie writes about her intercountry adoption experiences at Third Mom. She, her husband Ralf, and their two children live in Alexandria, Virginia.

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