Julia Marnin, Newsweek, May 27, 2021
A Portland, Oregon teacher told her fellow educators at the Beaverton School District to embrace anti-racist thinking or it will lead to being fired in clips surfacing on social media sending social media abuzz from a February Zoom conference made public.
Eighth grade humanities teacher Katherine Watkins made her comments during the district’s virtual equity summit published to YouTube by Parents Defending Education (PDE) in late April and clips of her comments were shared to social media Thursday, garnering many reactions.
“If you’re being resistant, I understand that, but you’re going to have to eventually come to the light because if you’re going to keep up those old views of colonialism, it’s going to lead to being fired because you’re going to be doing damage to our children…trauma,” Watkins said during the Zoom call.
“So as we fire the teachers who sexually abuse our children, we will be firing the teachers who do racist things to our children and traumatize them,” she added before saying “you either evolve or dissolve.”
Her comments recently re-shared on Twitter have prompted waves of discussions and differing reactions.
“Throughout this past year, institutions have been called upon to re-evaluate their role in the perpetuation of implicit bias and systemic racism. The Beaverton School District is no exception. It’s our responsibility to identify and change inequitable practices that harm our students and staff of color,” Shellie Bailey-Shah, a spokeswoman for the district told Newsweek.
“In the comments, we hear Ms. Watkins expressing her expectation that all our educators authentically engage in anti-bias, antiracist work for the benefit of our students,” she added.
Watkins has worked at the district for 16 years and she says she is an “Antiracist Educator, Racial Trauma Informed, Speaker, Writer,” according to her LinkedIn.