San Francisco United School District board president, Gabriela Lopez, claimed in an interview with The New Yorker that critics of the district’s decision to rename buildings named after “controversial” figures are “undermining” the districts “anti-racism” efforts.
As The Daily Wire reported last week, San Francisco’s school district voted to rename 44 schools named after “racist” and “controversial” figures.
Local media, though, discovered that the research group, charged with deciding whether certain schools should be renamed, failed to do an exhaustive investigation into each historical figure — and, in some cases, made major research errors.
“A Google Doc, used by a San Francisco Public Schools renaming committee to track historical research into ‘controversial’ figures whose names appeared on 44 of the district’s buildings, was ‘rife with historical errors’ and contained information gathered through ‘casual Google searches’ — and in some cases, the information did not relate at all to the individual considered ‘controversial,’” The Daily Wire noted.
Paul Revere was struck from school buildings over an unsubstantiated connection to the “conquest” of the Penobscot Tribe, for example, and philanthropist James Lick was deemed dishonorable because of his “support” for a “racist” statue — a statue that was erected decades after his death.
Lopez defended the SFUSD’s vote, though, even when confronted with the errors concerning Revere and Lick, suggesting, instead, that critics were aiming to preserve “racist” historical figures and undermine “anti-racism” efforts.
“So, for me, I guess it’s just the criteria was created to show if there were ties to these specific themes, right? White supremacy, racism, colonization, ties to slavery, the killing of indigenous people, or any symbols that embodied that,” Lopez said. “And the committee shared that these are the names that have these ties. And so, for me, at this moment, I have the understanding we have to do the teaching, but also I do agree that we shouldn’t have these ties, and this is a way of showing it.”
She suggested, even, that the interviewer’s decision to question the group’s research was itself an effort to undermine the school district’s anti-racism crusade and “discredit” the renaming committee’s “work.”
“So then you go into discrediting the work that they’re doing, and the process that they put together in order to create this list,” she added. “So when we begin to have these conversations, and we’re pointing to that, and we’re given the reasoning and they’re sharing why they made this choice and why they’re putting it out there, I don’t want to get into a process where we then discredit the work that this group has done.”
“The real issue is how we are challenged when we talk about racism,” she said, turning it back on her interviewer.
“I think what you’re pointing to and what I keep hearing is you’re trying to undermine the work that has been done through this process,” she concluded. “And I’m moving away from the idea that it was haphazard.”
San Francisco school district has yet to set a date for the name changes. San Francisco city government has raised concerns that the project will cost upwards of $2 million.