To the Editor,
The Open Door health clinic is a wonderful organization, but not within one of our public schools, especially one with the largest brown and black population. Comparing our district to schools in Port Chester is problematic because the demographic there enforced a Latino-friendly climate that we don’t have in Larchmont and Mamaroneck.
In fact, discussions with the school board about this school-based clinic immediately expressed discontent about involvement in social services initiatives only to favor the poor at Mamaroneck Avenue School. It’s no secret. It has been revealed in online commentary for years, pointing out that kids use racially-charged comments to bully kids who attend that school. Add to that the comments expressed at school meetings mostly about not wanting to serve “those” kids and “their” needs. Let’s make the dialogue against this school-based clinic an informed one, rather than a reactionary racially-biased one.
The assumption is that services are needed because children miss too much school to seek healthcare services. What is not stated is the assumption that these conditions are not being monitored at home because parents are not knowledgeable enough to do so and because there is a problem of illiteracy, as school social workers and case workers in this neighborhood have openly stated about the Latino community, “they probably can’t read the indications for certain medications.”
What we have here is a wealth of micro problems tied to a macro problem of oppression with intentional forces meant to isolate people and keep them in poverty. More importantly, keep them oppressed, even those from their own community who trust the oppressors and therefore view us as incapable of something or a burden and get rewarded by joining with the oppressors.
Myths invented by the colonial masters, utilizes science in order to prove our children’s lacking learning abilities. W.E.B. Dubois defines this as the “fallacy of numbers.” In fact, we cannot use attendance as our indicator of why that would be the solution when we don’t address the lack of affordable housing in this neighborhood and county and the deteriorating conditions of housing in our flood zone that keeps mold, lead and other contaminants very active and in our air and water. I could go on.
There is an awareness that the environmental conditions exist since the proposal was cleverly only targeted to Mamaroneck Avenue School. Yet no one openly states it for what it is, a tactic to hide the effects of environment racism. Furthermore, they use Latino informants to act as spokespeople about the benefits to families without again being clear as to why these health conditions disproportionally affect brown and black students and why the clinic would only be housed on this side of the tracks and not being advocated for at any other school.
The rewards of a school-based clinic are only for those who are manipulating the statistics and exploiting the idea that the poor students need this. I advocate for healthier lifestyles but not under false pretenses. If an illiterate community has already managed to organize a Zumba class that runs at multiple times a day in multiple locations all on their own, they do care about their health. If parents walk to school every day and many pick up other kids and walk in groups to school, the “Walk to School” week does not apply to their lack of exercise and to fight obesity. Illiteracy does not mean parents are not ready to learn by listening and are not eager to do the best for their kids. Perhaps a better investment would be to look at models that have worked where parents teach themselves because the framing in that exchange is not about “fixing” anyone and doesn’t cost the taxpayer as much in salaries and capital investment.
We are being deceived once again.
The clinic should never be part of the school. It gives too much power to teachers and staff because it allows them to decide when a child “looks” or is “acting” sick and also to take note of the frequency of when services are sought and to where referrals are made, especially if the student is in special education, which I have exposed many times too many Latino students are, in our district. Subsequently, frequency of visits or the failure to monitor or control a condition at home over the weekend on the part of the parent will be interpreted as neglect and intervention with Child Protective Services.
Those who write the definitions, control the results. Too many players have more to gain than the families who are not given credit for the things they do right. Mamaroneck Avenue School families can seek their healthcare services privately at a convenient location. We as a community need to channel our advocacy toward eliminating systemic and environmental factors mainstreaming racism.