"The slave trade became legal for one last time ... as the Senior class members sold themselves along with thirteen brave and courageous teachers," the caption read in the yearbook, titled Acres. Two white students who darkened their skin appear in photos on the page." NBC Dallas on Melinda Gates High School Yearbook from 1979. She was a Freshman that year.
Hello, readers. I'm pretty sure I'll find myself in a morass as I try to tip toe across this minefield of topics. Race and COVID. American cities are reeling after the murder of George Floyd in a brutal submission from which he was not able to "tap out." We know all too well in the autism community that restraints (as submissions are called in Special Education) can kill. Just last November, Max Benson, a boy with autism, was killed during a restraint for spitting. One of my daughters has a spitting behavior that has vexed her team and me for a long time, and with COVID-19, is now I think life threatening for her safety and ability to re-enter any school or program. According to the LA Times: ...two teachers performed a takedown maneuver by holding Max’s hands behind his back, then dropping him to his knees and rolling him facedown. We are in turmoil over COVID. And here comes Melinda Gates who made two points that struck me in her interview with TIME Magazine last week at the GAVI fund raising pot luck supper in London. Her points were:
1) The second group who should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine is African Americans. And then other people of color. (health care providers are the first group.)
2) The way "out" from COVID-19 is a vaccine.
America has seen the horror of the Tuskegee Experiment, a FORTY YEAR EXPERIMENT for "science." America has not been allowed to see the CDC Whistleblower William Thompson's work on the falsification of MMR vaccine data as it related to African American toddlers and autism rates. Why does Melinda Gates get to decide who can or should have any COVID vaccine? Let's pretend for one moment that the vaccine will work - without out any side effects - and with guaranteed lifelong immunity PLUS free pony rides for life. How would Americans like her list of who should get the vaccine in what order? Conversely, let's pretend for another moment that the COVID vaccine(s) will have serious side effects and not confer immunity at all. How would Americans like her list of who should get the vaccine in what order?
Melinda Gates Lays Out Her Biggest Concern for the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic
TIME: The scale of anti-racism protests we’re seeing right now is incredible. How does this moment relate to your work in health equity?
Gates: What happened to George Floyd was brutal and horrible and should never happen to anyone, anywhere. This is a moment of reckoning in the United States. We all need to really pause during this time and learn as best we can from it. Even before we saw this senseless death, COVID had already started to show us gaps and structural problems in our country. We are seeing black men die at a disproportionate rate. We know the way out of COVID-19 will be a vaccine, and it needs to go out equitably.
Who needs it after health care workers? In the U.S., that would be black people next, quite honestly, and many other people of color. They are having disproportionate effects from COVID-19.
I Bing'ed her name (one does not GOOGLE Mrs. Gates) and biography. She is about my age, born in Dallas, Texas, just a year after President Kennedy was shot in the same city. Mrs. Gates attended Ursuline Academy, and then Duke University in North Carolina. She was Valedictorian of her high school class in 1982. She would have been a Freshman in 1979, when students AND STAFF thought it was acceptable and clever and funny to have a fundraiser called "Senior Slave Day."
In Dallas, Texas. In 1979. Not 1949 or even 1969. This does not make her a racist. She may well have run home and told her family she was appalled. She attended Duke University which might or might not have a serious problem with race (see below). I know her husband thinks technology and vaccines are the answer to most every health problem in a manner that is rigid. (No I am not diagnosing him.) I know COVID has turned our lives upside down and we all want blessed release from Quaranscream. I know the vaccines in testing are a wild crap-shoot and safety always takes a hit when speed is the goal.
From a February 2019 (this just sixteen months ago) NBC report:
Ursuline Academy of Dallas apologized after a decades old photo resurfaced showing students in blackface.
According to NBC 5's media partner The Dallas Morning News, the photo came from the all girls Catholic prep school's 1979 yearbook. In the photo, two students wear blackface for an event called "Senior Slave Day."
Duke is in the American South. I found this article, part of a series by Professor Don Taylor in The Chronicle dated just last August:
What's wrong with Duke? White supremacy is the root
A noose hung on a campus tree, a Latinx mural defaced, the n-word scrawled on the Mary Lou Center, a Swastika painted on the East Campus bridge, hateful words said to a student in a burka, students being told they shouldn’t speak their native language on campus. Each past event has a set of facts, known and unknown, that nevertheless flow from a root problem: Duke has a prevailing culture of white supremacy and cultural imperialism that must be named if we are to address it together and live into our status as a global university.
Again, I am not implying that Mrs. Gates is racist. I read her interview in Time. I did a bit of homework on her background. And now I am thinking. How about you?