It's funny how the people who know the least about you often have the most to say. And boy is that true when you do something like run for school board. And while I'd like to just notice and move on, sometimes what is said needs to be addressed. For example:
I’m not Black. Absolutely everyone who knows me knows that fact about me.
Over the years, people have often asked me, “what are you?” Meaning, what is your lineage, race, ethnicity, heritage . . . but no one has ever come up to me and said, “hey, you’re a Black woman aren’t you?” So, you can imagine how bizarre it was when I got a call last summer from the DCTA political consultant who told me that someone said I claimed to be Black so that I could get picked for a volunteer committee in DPS.
She went on to tell me that this had been reported by several individuals. I asked who these individuals were. She was not willing to say. But she went on to say that she was calling me because I did not mention any of this during my interview with the DCTA endorsement committee and so, she wanted to know a little bit about my relationship and current involvement with the Black community.
I didn’t bring it up in the interview because I am not a Black woman and I’ve never claimed to be a Black woman and I don’t go around talking about my connections or involvements with any racial group. And also, no one asked me any questions about my race, heritage, ancestry, culture, or religion. They also didn’t ask me about my qualifications, my accomplishments, or my knowledge of the current state of the district, but that’s for another post.
So I told her, “Nope, I did not claim to be a Black woman.” Since the consultant had already come out with her own endorsement of another candidate, I figured she was just looking for a way to advise DCTA to reject me which was fine. I moved on. But those several individuals apparently kept sharing the rumor - in hopes of keeping it alive I suppose. Or perhaps they thought it might intimidate me into dropping out of the race, which of course it did not
And then, four and half months later . . .
I was invited to have a Facebook Live conversation with Jeff Fard, who runs Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center. A few minutes into the show, current school board director, Tay Anderson, posted this comment in the chat:
What possible motivation could there be for a DPS school board director to publish this unsubstantiated rumor on a public forum months after the question had already been asked and answered? By his own admission he has no evidence.
As the conversation continued, Brother Jeff referenced the biographical information on my website which mentions my Native American ancestry. In response, Director Anderson posted this comment:
Another viewer added this:
These are just two examples of the kind of commentary that continued throughout the show. And for the record, the answer to Mr. Chapman's question is: yes,I do know what that is.
A couple of weeks prior to the show I was on, Anderson was sharing his opinions on all the candidates in each race. After he critiqued three other candidates in the at-large race, he started to move on, but Fard interrupted and asked, “What about Jane Shirley?” This was his response:
“I don’t much about Jane Shirley so . . . Well, I’m not voting for her anyways.”
So, a couple of weeks after going on record that he is completely and purposely ignorant of my background and qualifications, he publishes this comment:
Meanwhile, during this same broadcast, the campaign manager for a DCTA-endorsed candidate posted these comments:
Sadly, I predict there will be some who don’t think these comments are a big deal or will try to excuse or justify them in some way. So let me be very clear about my interpretation, informed by twenty years of experience as a woman in leadership.
· These comments are micro-aggressions.
· This is intentional.
· This is a form of bullying.
I am running for the Denver School Board to bring about change. We need board members who lead with kindness, maturity and professionalism.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.