‘Threatening’ signs removed at schools
The good news is that the signs have been removed.
As it turns out, plausible deniability may mean this was actually an innocent mistake:
The only reason she [Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Milford School District Superintendent] can think of is that someone duplicated the signs that are posted at the districts middle school and high schools. At those locations, where there are sports fields, there are warnings in English and Spanish that use permits are required and that violators are subject to police action.
On the other hand, I’m in agreement with Ms. Cabrera:
Wilmington Councilwoman Maria Cabrera, however, thinks more should be done. The fact that no one complained about signs that have been up for a year could signal what she said is a statewide cultural dynamic in parts of the Hispanic community.
“Some of us want to stay under the radar and not make waves,” she said. “It shouldn’t happen again, so I think the superintendent should conduct a full investigation to find out how and why this happened.”
It seems we are not yet past the national embarrassment of “Whites Only” signs marring the civil landscape in America.
Outrage in Delaware (Update X3: EVEN MORE PICS, and MORE SIGNS)
So if you are a white English speaking “American,” you can play here at your own risk so long as you have a parent or guardian watching. If you are brown, if you dare play here without a permit we will arrest your immigrant ass. That is the fucking height of racism, and I will see to it that who ever is responsible for this sign will have their public careers ended immediately.
If this isn’t a clear cut civil rights violation, I don’t know what is. Kudos to Dan Gaffney (referenced in the article) and delawaredem (the author) for putting this in the spotlight,
The one beef I have about this kind of coverage in our viral media age is that it stops short. By all means, make this story go viral. Generate sufficient outrage. There’s still some easy steps left. Make calls.
I’m all for local governance, but this is a case where I think a top-down approach might serve the public interest far better.
Tomorrow, I’ll be calling the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to find out how to file a complaint based on the evidence as presented.
Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Telephone Device for the Deaf (TTY) (202) 514-0716
Following that call, I’ll be placing one to the State of Delaware’s Office of Human Relations in the Department of State. Romona Fullman, Director, can be reached at (302) 577-5287.
Since Milford is in both Kent and Sussex counties, there’s two calls to make at the county level:
First, there’s Charles Coker, Chairman, Kent County Parks and Recreation Commission. I’ll try to reach him, or the relevant staffer, by way of the Division of Parks at (302) 744-2495.
Then there’s the Sussex County Council at (302) 855-7743. I couldn’t locate a Parks and Recreation number, so this will have to do.
Last, but not least, I’ll be placing a call to Mary Betts, Milford’s Recreation Superintendent, to let her know that this has already been brought to the attention of the federal, state, and county governments. I should hope mine won’t be the first call she gets on the matter.
My goal here is plain and simple. This situation deserves more than just viral outrage. I want officials from the bottom up to become acutely aware that we have no room in 21st Century America for “whites only.” Correcting this violation of civil rights and attending to any subsequent damage control should be such a tremendous pain in the collective hindquarters that, if only for loathing of paperwork and fear of figuratively rolling heads, the community of Milford, Delaware and any others out there like it learn a vital lesson: segregation in America is a thing of the past.
Image credit: Photo by Eric Lin, licensed under Creative Commons.
Note: the actual photos of the offending “whites only” signs are protected under copyright, All Rights Reserved. I have requested that delawaredem consider putting at least one of those photographs in the Creative Commons.
I personally think this is more likely ignorance/laziness than overt racism, but either way the signs need to come down.
I’d like to agree, especially having read many comments regarding the miserable usage of Spanish. I’m having a hard time accepting poor translation as an explanation (as found in many of those comments) since the message itself, the meaning signified, is substantially different in the two signs.
The English version makes a stipulation, without requiring either permit or permission (depending on translation issues) with no overt threat of police action possibly affecting a demographic deeply sensitive to such threats.
The Spanish version stipulates an entirely different requirement and does warn about police action, and this is directed to the demographic that may actually have legitimate concerns about being singled out.
All in all, this is far too similar to the intimidating billboards in black neighborhoods during the 2012 election campaign warning that voter fraud results in jail time for me to think it’s just a linguistic oops of any kind.
Is there a picture of the “Whites Only” and “Colored” water fountains?
The classic image that I remembered is by Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos, (c) 1950
Here’s an excellent photo in the public domain: