Schenectady teacher at Saratoga Springs protest talks about BLM invite to schools
A longtime minority teacher from the Schenectady City School District – who said he was often asked if he really got a master’s degree from Harvard University in the Ivy League – visited Congress Park on Sunday and joined Black Lives Matter protesters in explaining the need for activists to talk to local students.
Yacouba Sangare, primary and sixth grade teacher who comes from Niger, West Africa, said it is leading a anti-racism club in his neighborhood.
In Saratoga Springs, local BLM leaders Lexis Figuereo and her sister, Chandler Hickenbottom, recently spoke with two classes about the pros and cons of civil disobedience.
Sangare said he had observed that it was easier to talk about racism to young children than to older students.
The educator said his students often ask why BThe history of lack is only discussed in February, while the history of whites is discussed monthly.
âHaving a culturally relevant and affirmative school district,â Sangare said, âdoesn’t hurt white students. It is not about teaching white students that they were born racist. If anyone tells you this, they clearly don’t know anything about culturally relevant and assertive schools.
A self-proclaimed anti-racism teacher, Sangare cited Audrey Lorde’s essay titled âThe Master’s Tools Will Never Tear Down the Master’s Houseâ.
âWe are not here to oppress anyone,â Sangare said. âWe are not here to devalue anyone. We are here to uplift all of our students and make society a better place for everyone. We only do this when all of the students, including our white students, learn our true story.
Sangare said that if people “tell lies about us” had had an anti-racist and culturally relevant education, âthey wouldn’t be so afraid of us and the truth that we speakâ.
Pointing his finger at his white wife, Tracy, in the crowd of dozens of protesters, Sangare said he loved his white family, friends and students.
But the black and brown students in the neighborhood who are Muslims, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community, he said, deserve to feel valued.
Figuereo said the protest was aimed at dispelling misinformation circulating about the Saratoga Springs School District’s policy on equity, inclusion and diversity.
The mention of the policy of being anti-racist does not go far enough, organizers said.
Activists said they also continued to demand accountability from police in the town, where he said the alleged death of a 21-year-old biracial man named Darryl Mount, implicated by police, had not is under investigation.
A vigil commemorating the anniversary of Mount’s death was held Thursday at Saratoga Springs Town Hall.
Figuereo joined his sister in the southern Albany police station for six days in April.
During the encampment, Hickenbottom said Albany police captain Devin Anderson assaulted her with his own megaphone without remorse.
âIt happens all the time,â she says. âThis is nothing new. The only thing is that it was filmed. “
Recognizing the different nuances, ages, genders and sexual identities in the crowd, Hickenbottom said activists pushed for inclusiveness, diversity, equity and inclusion. She said sarcastically that those were scary words for most people.
âPlease search the dictionary for what anti-racism means, because if you have an anti-racism problem, just know that you are a racist,â she said.
After remarks in the park, protesters marched to City Hall as Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department officers dealt with traffic control as North Broadway and South Broadway traffic was blocked . Protesters also lined the street in front of City Hall before returning to Congress Park.
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