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  • Devon Updegraff-Day

BLM & the Push for Social Reform in Public Schools

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

This blog post has been written in a different format and touches upon an extremely tormenting topic that many shy away from. I too find myself avoiding discussions on the BLM movement as topics ingrained with emotion can be extremely difficult to navigate. However, as many of us would prefer to bow our heads, it becomes increasingly more important to address this movement head on, especially as it slowly saturates our public schools. Over the years there has been a push to incorporate equity and inclusion programs into our public-school curriculums. I recently came across the Kyrene school district’s re-opening plan and was surprised and confused to read the elementary student day included Social-Emotional Learning right behind English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. Let me make my position clear, social-emotional learning or the implementation of any new progressive racial equity program does not have ANY place in our public schools. When I am tough on my boys over their behavior, attitude or sense of entitlement, I make it clear that just as it is their soccer coach’s job to make them better on the soccer field or their teacher’s job to educate and prepare them for the workforce, it is my job as a parent to teach, guide and encourage them to be free-thinking, strong, well-minded and respectful men. As parents it is OUR duty to mold our children into the productive individuals we dream them to be, not the school’s job.



That being said, this blog post is my response to a Facebook thread that referenced Germany's post WWII memorials, and suggested every statue of a Confederate general be replaced by a statue of a slave breaking free of their chains or standing proud in defiance of the slaveholders. Personally, I disagree, and the following is my response:

Here is my problem with the current direction of the BLM movement. The murder of George Floyd was obvious to all. The officer’s blatant abuse of power was seen and understood by most if not all Americans. His death created a rare opportunity for actual change and police reform; eyes and ears were open and ready to see, listen and learn. Unfortunately, because of lack of leadership, an unclear message and the huge distraction caused by riots, rage, political motivation, political correctness, patronizing celebrities and now the vandalism of historical monuments, the BLM movement has lost their power. BLM needs a leader, one leader, one voice, one message. The moment the looting and riots began, BLM leaders with public platforms should have aggressively and frequently condemned the actions of riot participants. Instead, those with public platforms remained silent, some even justified the looting. Voices condemning the violence and destruction came from those on the ground protesting but who lacked the public platform to truly be heard.


The message and goals of the BLM movement are unclear. This may seem silly as the message is literally “black lives matter.” I consider myself to be a fairly smart individual and only recently have I come to fully understand the message. Only recently have I come to understand the phrase “black lives matter” and the frustration over “all lives matter” after I had it explained to me in layman’s terms. An effective message has to be clear for everyone, especially to intended target.


The justified anger over the murder of George Floyd opened the door for political games and manipulation. Powerful people will always use vulnerability and emotions to their advantage. Since the topic of Germany during WWII has been brought up, I think it is important to understand why the war occurred and how someone like Hitler was able to commit the horror that he did. Germany was destroyed after WWI; the country suffered from massive unemployment, poverty and feelings of resentment and anger toward countries forcing them pay reparations and remain militarily weak. Hitler used the Germans pre-existing feelings of anger and resentment to his advantage. He violated the Versailles treaty by building up the military, creating jobs and boosting the German economy. He justified and encouraged feelings of hate and used it build extreme nationalism among citizens. This is important to understand because similar feelings exist today causing a massive divide between those pushing toward socialism and those moving toward dangerous levels of nationalism. I fear this movement is being used by some in power to move their agenda and worsen the divide. The message by celebrities to vote, vote, vote is great except for they don’t actually encourage their fans to become informed on local legislators. Change only happens when knowledge is gained and those who allow the advancement of the status quo or enable poverty are actually exposed and voted out.

Now back to the topic at hand. Political correctness and the vandalism of historical monuments has become the final distraction that I believe has shut down the BLM once again. Books such as Huckleberry Finn, the Nancy Drew series, Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird are just a few examples of books that some are pushing to be banned or changed due to offensive terminology relevant to the times. I find it laughable that classic novels are now offensive, yet I hear my boys listening to music with nothing but offensive terminology. So, my boys can listen to Kendrick Lamar or Future but should avoid reading Huckleberry Finn; got it. I do not doubt certain memorials were built as a message of white supremacy and perhaps should be replaced. I believe a majority of Americans would support the creation of monuments that honor heroes and survivors of slavery but that has not been offered publicly. Instead, rioters spray paint and destroy any historical monument in their way without discussion. If BLM leaders want change then they must stand against behavior that hurts their cause and leads to the American public once again lowering their heads, shutting their eyes and tuning the message out.

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