The Rise of a Speech Freedomless America

A sophomore at Shorewood High School, who recently immigrated to America, described about how her brother was beat up by black students, then they were both bullied by black administrators, and yet they still found hope in the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Here’s the essay she wrote for class about it… The school district just suspended her over it.

Jan. 15, 2024
Guest Perspective by Daria Ciocan

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal”- Martin Luther King Jr.

A classroom. Students sitting quietly at their desks. The omnipresent cool light tires their eyes. More silence on their behalf. The teacher’s monotone voice fills the room. I sigh; someone taps their fingers repeatedly on the desk. I rotate my eyes on the walls; the ubiquitous Black Lives Matter signs embellish the room.

“Oh Daria,” the teacher suddenly stops. “Mrs. McDowell wants to see you.”

I straighten up, confused.

“She wants to see me? Why?”

“I don’t know. Just go in the hallway, she’s waiting for you there.”

I push away from the desk and stand up. I make my way to the door, indifferent to my classmates’ hungry and greedy stares. I push the door open and see Mrs. McDowell, the social studies teacher, waiting for me there, her face transfigured due to her wide smile. I take her image in, a young black woman with a multitude of tightly tied braids and pearls of white teeth. I greet her; she sweetly, yet very falsely, greets me back.

“The reason I wanted to see you,” she starts, before I can ask that question myself, “is to talk about the email you sent.”

Oh yes, the email. I had sent it to the whole staff, talking about the exceptionally low level of academics of the school and the woke indoctrination tightly woven in the curriculum. Except for the dry and standard answers, I had received from the principal, a person who had no real original opinions, the director of curriculum, Samuel Coleman (who will be “featured” later) and Mrs. McDowell herself, not one teacher had answered.

I looked at her suspiciously, not knowing if I should talk to her. I gave in eventually, and she led me into the library. She immediately took off part of her facade and started questioning, interrogating me better said, about my views on black people. I told her that I don’t have anything against them, they’re just normal people to me.

“No? But you are against the Black Lives Matter movement,” she promptly responded.

I froze. A little more and she would start calling me racist.

“I’m not against it the way you’re saying, I just don’t think political issues and critical race theories should make their way into schools.”

“And you call this woke indoctrination.”

“Well, yes. It’s everywhere in the lessons, trying to teach us how fundamentally racist white people are and how oppressed black people are in today’s America. It’s making white kids, including me, a non-American who doesn’t have anything to do with this issue, feel guilty.”

“And you don’t agree? You don’t agree that black people are oppressed?”

I looked at her for a few moments. She encouraged me to keep going with a smile.

“I believe that there is racism from both sides.” I told her. “I believe that both black people and white people are racist towards each other. The fact that I can’t say anything “bad” about black people without being called racist shows a lot of things. And the fact that black kids can yell and even call us the n-word and not get in trouble, but us being labeled racists if we even mutter the word, shows the discrimination that we get.”

She struggled to keep her face straight and friendly, and told me, “I think these are just your personal views and opinions.”

“I’m pretty sure they are not. I am not American, but a Romanian who grew up in a country that has never seen racism like this. I come here and see that if I say something against black people, I am immediately a racist. Me, who has no connections with what happened in this country.

“So,” she went on, “you’re saying that there is no racism in your country?”


“I am sure there is. How can a country not have racism?”

“Well, not every country has racism like America.”

She almost chuckled. I told her that this conversation shouldn’t be happening and that I am feeling very uncomfortable.

“Uncomfortable? Why? I just want to get to know your opinions and see where you are wrong.”

“Wrong? Wrong about what?”

She ignored my question and went on to tell me something that will never leave my thoughts, “You know Daria, the FBI is a racist agency that targets black people. The statistics you used, that black people commit more crimes than white people, are used to increase racism. Agencies like these are dangerous towards minorities.”

I was in 8th grade when we were given a book written by Ibram X Kendi. If you try and pry out racism in literally everything you hear or see, this book is for you.

I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. The FBI, a racist agency? I looked at her incredulously. Either she was brainwashed and really believed what she was saying, or she just wanted to brainwash students and make them agree with the woke movement. I think she was doing the latter. She let me go shortly after.

I was in 8th grade when that happened, in the intermediate school of the little town Shorewood, a suburb of Milwaukee. I moved here just three years ago from Romania. I never thought about racism too much because I wasn’t born in a racist country or environment. The theme of racism hadn’t been part of any moment of my life. Then there I was, a complete alien, an outsider, being asked indirectly if I am racist against black people.

Later on that year, we were given a book written by Ibram X Kendi. It was entitled “Stamped”. I examined the cover quickly. The profile of a black boy’s head was shown as a silhouette under five red stripes. The big, blue title reading “Stamped” was smacked right in the middle of the stripes, creating a sort of American flag. Then something caught my eye. On the second to bottom stripe, the continuation of the title was written in white. “Racism, Antiracism and You.” Even worse, as I started to skim through its pages, I began seeing the writer’s claims, such as white people being naturally racist, born with the tendency to oppress black people and absurd statements such as that the first racist was discovered in 1415. From the very beginning, the book opens with the statement that “this is not a history book.” And it wasn’t. History books have facts and context, while this book cherry-picked information to fit the author’s biased ideas that all white people are racist. Kendi diminished the efforts of Abraham Lincoln, Harper Lee and Booker T. Washington, to say the least, so much that he made them seem worthless in their attempts to diminish segregation. I didn’t read the book; I opted out instead because it was a racist book about racism. Kendi claimed that anyone who doesn’t agree with his radical point of view, is racist, because he sorted all human beings into three categories, “a segregationist (a hater), an assimilationist (a coward), or an anti-racist (someone who truly loves).” (Kendi 247-248) And this non-history book, filled with racist ideas towards white people (because yes, this exists!), was given to 8th graders who did not have a solid, non-biased base and knowledge about their country, to fill up that gap. But if you prefer Malcom X/Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party tactics to those of Martin Luther King Jr, this book is for you. If you try and pry out racism in literally everything you hear or see, again this book is for you. “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” -Ibram X Kendi

The way my brother and I had been treated in that school was not better. During one of his English classes, Matei and his classmates were asked the question, “Why are more black people in jail than there are white people?” The brainwashed answers started popping like popcorn: “Because white people are racist”, “Because the police is racist”, etc. My brother stood up and said what was on his mind, “Maybe because black people commit more crimes than white people.” The monumental silence lasted that no one would stand up for us. Not the principal, not the teachers, not even the dean of students. After my brother was hit and thrown on the ground by two black students, and called that very feared slur, nigger, he was still the one getting in bigger trouble, for being racist and saying that word. And even after one of the black kids involved, said that my brother never said the word nigger, the dean of students still called our parents, telling them that Matei has been saying racist things.

Equity, no?

Coleman stood up, shouted at my parents and stormed out of the room, slamming the door after him. Charming, right? A man yelling at a mother after her child got beaten up.

The director of curriculum, Samuel Coleman, a tall, black man, occupying one of the highest positions in the school district, was the most racist person I have ever met in my short life. Very proud of his PhD and his high positions that he occupied in a couple of school districts, he was the one who changed the Shorewood school’s curriculum to follow the woke movement along with critical race theories. At one point, he was even the director of equity. This man knew everything that was happening with us two, and he took his own approach. Whenever he would see us in the hallways, he would walk past us, pretending we didn’t even exist, even after maintaining eye contact with us. With an arrogant attitude, he looked down on us, his eyes filled with contempt, turned around and went another way. And if you want to get a taste of how this man behaves around people who talk against him, consider the way he reacted when he had a meeting with my parents and the principal. Gradually losing his calm during the conversation, for he couldn’t bear being criticized, he stood up, shouted at my parents and stormed out of the room, slamming the door after him.

Charming, right? A man yelling at a mother after her child got beaten up.

The cherry on top came somewhere in spring from that very warm and kindhearted social studies teacher, Mrs. McDowell. Being tired of my opinions, she sent me emails trying to tell me how wrong I am in claiming that white people also experience racism from black people, even if these opinions mainly came from my personal experiences. She told me that I misunderstood those personal experiences. There are some very notable things she wrote, and I will show them, for I have luckily kept these emails:

“Black people can be prejudiced, not racist, as they/we primarily hold no systemic/institutional power in the United States.”

“The likelihood of us ever “needing” one another in this life is slim to none, so I am going to afford you the opportunity to hold on to your viewpoint and opinions (because they’re never really rooted in facts), and remove myself from the opinionated commentary I’ve been getting all year long. You are heard.”

“I am positive that this will be our last conversation.”

Then, she had the nerve to say that the communications between her, my parents and I are starting to feel like harassment (her, harassed!), and that she would like to never be contacted again either by me or my parents, her being my teacher at the time.

A teacher refusing to communicate with a student for having different, conflicting opinions. Exciting.

We felt very vulnerable in that school. We had just arrived from an ex-communist and non-racist country, our English was poor, and we didn’t even understand what was going on politically with America. We were aliens, outsiders, and we responded sincerely to everything that was coming at us.

We felt very vulnerable in that school. We had just arrived from an ex-communist and non-racist country, our English was poor, and we didn’t even understand what was going on politically with America. We were aliens, outsiders, and we responded sincerely to everything that was coming at us. We saw that black students were predominantly not respecting the mask policy (during Covid), so we questioned this. They were the ones disturbing classes the most without having real negative consequences, so we questioned this too. Then slowly, we started to see that the black students are somehow specially treated. They could get away with things that we, all the others, could not even imagine (like swearing/yelling at the teachers and principal). So again, we questioned this, and we were quieted down, being told that these are just our opinions and that what we see is not what it means.

Perhaps Tammy Rasco is a familiar name. She was the black principal of Lake Bluff elementary school. She was also the first from the black staff to bully my brother, who was just a sixth grader at the time. Having to do some sort of project, Matei included books that he read and enjoyed. Among them was one of Agatha Christie’s most famous books, entitled Ten Little Niggers. That’s the actual, original name of the book, although I believe that it is harder to find it under this title, for it has been changed to “Ten Little Indians” or “And Then There Were None.” In our language, Romanian, the word black is very similar in sound to negro (negru is the word). That is because Romanian is a romance language, thus derived from Latin. The word for black in Latin is niger/ nigreos. There’s nothing racist in there, so my brother didn’t think about the implications of saying the title, which in Romania is “Zece (ten) negrii (blacks) mititei (tiny/small). When we say “negru”, we refer to the color. When Matei searched for the book picture on Goodreads, that is what showed up, “Ten Little Niggers”. He was called to the principal’s office, where Rasco started interrogating him about the project, getting to what bothered her, the title of the book (she hadn’t even read it to know that there was nothing racist in it!!). Questions like: “Is that a racist book?”, “Is there a black character who died?”, “Does your country have a history of racism against black people?”, “Are you racist?”, “Do you have a background of racism in your family?”, “Are your parents racist?”, started pouring over my 12-year-old brother. He got home and started crying, thinking he had done something wrong, although he didn’t know exactly what.

Our year in that school did not change. We were still called racists, sweet Mrs. McDowell turned her head the other way whenever she saw me, the outspoken principal did everything that the just Mr. Coleman told him to. All of this fun was spoiled at the end of that summer. An email from the school announced that Coleman and Rasco are fired (not stated directly), for having been found with racist text messages in their devices. Hidden and sweetened by words, the message was clear. They had been fired for being racist. These conversations were discovered by the IT director, Mickey Chavannes, who had been fired by the tyrannical superintendent, Mrs. Sternke after he disobeyed her orders. He was to keep these messages hidden, yet he made a copy of them and published them. It got him fired. Parts of these conversations have been published, even if this took a while.

Racist Text Messages Were A Reaction To Racism In Shorewood, School Administrators Claimed

Coleman’s messages:

– “I’m feeling recharged and ready to check some white folks. Hbu (How ‘bout you)”

– “Tell them crackas to holla at you when they sober.”

Now as you can see, this very distinguished man used a language that you can find in “the hood.” “Crackas” is defined as a racial slur which is used towards impoverished white people, commonly Southerners. To check someone up, or “get checked” as used in this context means a verbal attack (it could also be physical) in order to disgrace someone with shame and put them in submission.

Rasco’s messages:

– “White folks nasty”

– “Why white folks always apologizing and restating ‘what they meant’ after they get checked”

– “WHY is labeling and categorizing so important? Is that a teacher thing or a white folk thing?”

– “Get me some white folks with spines and teeth.”

Ironically, these people claimed that they were the actual victims of racism from the rest of the school staff. Coleman claimed that “Shorewood has a very homogeneous, euro-centric educational approach that’s not healthy for any student,” and that “The main issue in this situation is not my professionalism. The main issue in this situation is the racism I endured as a professional while working for the Shorewood School District.” “Cracka” and “white folks” are considered deficit-based language which are against Shorewood School’s equity policy. When faced with this, Coleman said that, “Frankly, it is none of White people’s business what Black people talk about in private unless their concern involves dealing with the racial aggression and harassment that other White people perpetuate or allow.” So, in other words, black people should not have any consequences if they are racist.

All of this hate surprised me and it really made me wonder about why this gap between white and black people exists. A trip to Detroit led me closer to an answer…

I nervously tried the door. It was locked. I looked at my brother, who was awkwardly standing next to me.

“Is this even a church?” I asked him.

“It is, just knock one more time or try the door.”

I did both, but nothing happened.

“Let’s just go back and tell parents that it’s closed,” my brother unceremoniously concluded.

We were in Detroit, on a Sunday morning, hoping to get into a black church and see the traditional singing and service. The street was filled with churches that looked more like shacks and abandoned buildings, not at all like regular ones.

“Hello!” a man’s voice yelled after us, just as we were leaving. “Can I help you?”

We turned around and saw a black man standing at the door. Dressed in a gray suit, his face was lit by a huge smile.

“We just wanted to come in,” I responded.

“Then come on in!” he happily answered.

We nudged each other and then went in through the door. It led us into a cool and simple room, with wooden benches facing the front of the church, where a piano, some chairs and the talking place were set. Everyone turned around to see us, and only then I realized that we were the only children and white people in there. The group consisted of about 20 people, from which just two were men. All of them were in their late sixties or seventies, smiling and welcoming us in. The ladies were dressed in white, shiny dresses or skirts, with fancy purses hanging from their arms. Their shiny, smiling faces were framed by coils of black hair, mercilessly styled with a lot of gel. For most of them, a chic accessory was resting on their heads. They welcomed us very joyfully and loudly, telling us to take a seat wherever. Five minutes later, my parents walked in, and were welcomed with the same ceremonious attitude.

The first half of the hour passed slowly; everything that took place was just Bible reading. All that time, I stood and observed them and the surroundings. Everything around me showed poverty, or at least, a hard life. They all were simple, and I realized that we entered their little community. We were new faces; they knew each other for years. And yet, they welcomed us with open arms. After the Bible reading was over, they all stood up and told us to come with them in the basement of the building. We followed them down the stairs, and there, all around the basement, tables with chairs around them were nicely arranged.

“Just sit down wherever you like and we’ll get you coffee,” one of the ladies said.

“We also have donuts and some cake for you. Make yourself comfortable,” said another one.

By the time we went to sit down, they had brought out a little food trolley on which the desserts were placed. But at a second glance, the way, or the amount of the desserts placed there, hit me. On individual paper plates, thin slices of cake were placed. The donuts, about ten in total and halved, adorned on the top shelf. I immediately felt awkward, especially when they invited us to take what we liked, as much as we liked. As much as we liked? They barely had enough for themselves. I took something small and shared it with my brother; I was feeling out of place anyhow. But they were happy to give us, and that’s when their kindness and simplicity showed itself clearly to me. I don’t have anything to do with religion, but that was the first time when I saw people truly believing in their religion and how much it meant to them.

After that, we went back up and took our places again. The real thing was starting. After settling down, every one of them took out a personal tambourine and those who didn’t have, well, they prepared their hands. One of them looked at us, saw that we didn’t have any tambourine and collectively, they gave us four tambourines. They decided that they would do just as good without them. One of the men got up, went over to the piano and started playing a simple tune. Slowly, everyone began to play their tambourine or clap their hands in rhythm. The song stopped and they read from the Bible again. Then the music started again. Then the Bible. Music, then the Bible. Each time though, the singing became livelier and livelier, and their strong, melodious voices started filling the room. The reading of the Bible stopped and they transitioned to telling something significant that happened to them in that week. After the little story, everyone clapped, shook the tambourine and sang to that person, while also thanking God. A pattern began to create itself. After someone would finish the story, they would face us, and say something along these lines, “Thank you Lord for bringing these beautiful people to us. Thank you, Lord, for guiding them here, to our little church. Thank you. Oh Lord, thank you! Thank you for showing yourself!”

Then the singing would erupt, the strong melodious voices rising up in the air, swirling, braiding together. My hands were sweating and I didn’t know what to do with myself. For them, we were godsent! For them, it was something miraculous that our steps led us to their church. Their church, in the abandoned, ugly and dangerous side of Detroit among so many other churches similar to theirs. The singing and each story took almost three hours, time in each their cheering and singing were becoming more distracted from where they were. When it finished however, they called us in front and dedicated to us a speech, while also blessing us. They thanked God for us. They thanked us for coming and staying all the way with them. I realized that, probably, no other white person or stranger came and assisted the time. They seemed honored by our presence. Afterwards, every one of them hugged us, and we made our way to the door. Holding the door for us was one of the ladies dressed in white. When we got out, she held out a fist, and when she opened it, we saw a ball of five one-dollar bills, all wrinkled and very used.

In order for this woke movement to happen, in order for this society to accept political correctness, even worse, to believe that it is right, someone along with his legacy, had to be forgotten. This man is Martin Luther King Jr.

“These are for you,” she said in a soft voice. “For coming here and for staying with us.”

I was looking at those five dollars. Five dollars made up of one-dollar bills. They were so poor, and yet they would give part of what they had to us, just because we came there.

We naturally refused. If someone had to give any money, then we were the ones.

I was so perplexed with the completely different behavior between these two different generations of black people, that I could see why the gap between white and black people exists. It made me realize why the old generation of black people liked us and welcomed us so warmly, and why the young generation is so unfriendly and hostile. The old generation lived through real segregation, perhaps even through the Jim Crow laws. They had fought for equal rights, so that the Constitution would apply to them in the same way it applied to white people. The young generation of black people however, fights for special rights, for special considerations. They want white people who, like them, had nothing to do with past racism and segregation, to make it up to them. They want to be placed forward. To be apologized for something they didn’t truly experience.

Building from what I said above, I came to another sad truth in today’s America. In order for this woke movement to happen, in order for this society to accept political correctness, even worse, to believe that it is right, someone along with his legacy, had to be forgotten. This man is Martin Luther King Jr. Before you start arguing with me though, just look around you. What happened after the death of George Floyd? Mobs of predominantly angry black people started destroying and burning buildings. Statues were taken down. A strong dislike towards white people erupted with the only refuge for them being to join these angry people. Is this what Martin Luther King fought for? Is this what he wanted? Violence and hate? A famous figure guides the woke movement…Malcolm X is his name. He despised white people. He called them “devils”, arguing that he can’t call them “saints”. He was on the other side of the spectrum of what Martin Luther King wanted. A prominent member of Nation of Islam, which was run by black Muslims, he believed that blacks are god’s chosen people and that white people should be doomed to be punished by God due to their long-lasting segregation towards blacks. Martin Luther King never liked this man, who was pushing towards more separation between white and black people.

Finally, I realized that under this political idea, a man’s freedom of speech right, the biggest right that defines (or defined?) America is stripped off him. You don’t have to try to prove me wrong, instead answer this question for yourself, “Why can you not say anything regarded as bad towards black people, without being called a racist?” Some time ago, still during this school year, a girl, a classmate of mine, summarized for me everything that Shorewood Schools became, “In this school Daria, freedom of speech doesn’t exist. You can only do two things. Either keep quiet to not get yourself in trouble, which I advise you too, because you are already seen as racist by some people, or talk against this and have the whole school hate you. Whatever you do, just know that this is not a democratic school, it doesn’t respect the first amendment and you can’t say anything that you want.”

What happened to me in that school will never leave my existence, my life. It was truly shocking for me.

I wonder now, am I also a “cracka”?