An Open Letter to the Manatee County School Board

Reprinted from an email addressed to the Board.

Greetings Manatee County School Board Members

Richard Tatem here – graduate of the French Political Science Institute, Paris, France; former assistant professor of French and instructor of English, USAF Academy; PhD student in the humanities with a concentration in history; leadership educator and executive coach; Col (retired USAF).

You are all bcc’d on this e-mail to avoid Sunshine law issues. Please do not miss the short “educational resource” section at the bottom of the e-mail.

I have read through this e-mail many times – and now I have to go to bed – so please excuse any remaining annoying spelling/grammar errors.

This a somewhat lengthy e-mail – but the issue at hand is somewhat complex, so I can’t just “give you the highlights.” We all need to do our homework on this issue, and in the spirit of being helpful, I have summarized below some homework for you, as well as given you further resources to explore.

BLUF: The Manatee County Manatee County African-American History Task Force (AAHTF) draft plan (attached to this email) as currently drafted is irredeemably corrupted by Critical Race Theory (CRT) and needs to be withdrawn and restarted from scratch. Words in the plan such as “cultural sensitivity” (pages 71 and 92), “implicit bias” (pages 103/104), “decolonized and decolonization” (pages 104 and 105) are foundational Critical Race Theory terms. Add on the fact that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is the primary focus of the whole plan, and you need look no farther than that to see that the whole plan – and I choose my word here very carefully – is “infected” with CRT. “Teaching the state standards” does not require injecting CRT/DEI into every aspect of the school system. That fact is the greatest fault of the current AAHTF plan and the greatest danger to our school system. Think I’m exaggerating? See below.

“The greatest threat to American society today, I would argue, is coming from the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion industry.” Carol Swain, PhD, retired professor of political science, Vanderbilt University – her video with this quote is listed in the resource section – FYI – she’s a black female who grew up in Virginia (born 1954) before the Civil Rights act of 1964.

DEI – the word “diversity” is mentioned 35 times in the AAHTF draft plan. The word “equity” is mentioned 27 times in the plan. The word “inclusion” is mentioned 24 times in the plan. As I said – it’s an “infection” – and the only cure is to scrap the whole plan and start anew with something like a plan I propose below. 

I offer the following solution.

  1. Disband the DEI initiative as currently structured – it is infected – and that is the right word – with Critical Race Theory and is irredeemable. It is like a house that is built on a bad foundation – the house, and the foundation, have to be taken down and rebuilt.
  1. Put together a new task force to meet the statutory requirements of Florida law in regards to teaching African, African-American, Hispanic, and female history. This task force should include the following organizations that are currently not part of the task force: The Florida Citizens Alliance, The Christian Family Coalition, interested parents from each district in the school system, scholars other than the current Social Justice academicians currently in the group. The DEI group as constituted right now includes almost exclusively social justice type of people with no counter balance.

Example of an AAHTF “Social Justice” task force member: Dr. Lauren Braunstein, University of South Florida:

SJW courses she has taught:

  1. Foundations of Resistance and Protest in Education
  2. Gender and the Educational Process
  3. Education, Diversity, and Global Society

“Social Justice” Publications:

  1. “Racial politics, Latin@ youth, and teacher education. Journal of Latinos and Education. (18)2, 93-106. 
  2. “Danger of a Single Story”: Pre-service teachers’ of color use of an online discussion board to discuss the essentialization of culture. Multicultural Learning and Teaching.” doi: 10.1515/mlt-2019-0008.
  3. “You’re the one that needs help” Examining racial bias in a Two-Way Immersion Spanish classroom.” Journal of Language, Identity, and Education
  4. “Survival Mode: Deepening an understanding of the marginalization of linguistic diversity in U.S. schools.” Paper presented at the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT) Annual Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice. Dayton, OH.
  5. “It’s almost like I cannot be human”: Pre-service teachers of color resistance of stereotypes. Paper presented at Florida Educational Research Association (FERA) conference. St. Petersburg, FL. 
  1. Have this task force be led by someone in the community from outside the school system. Once the team has developed a draft plan, have it presented at a school board workshop that is truly a “workshop” where you interact with members of the committee. The committee should have a team of 3-5 people, from both political perspectives, to brief the board – to ensure one political perspective does not triumph – as is currently the case. This process may take more than one workshop to reach a final product – and it’s worth it to get buy in from all community stakeholders.
  1. The term “DEI” needs to be stricken completely from this new effort. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity is the vehicle used to insert CRT into an organization. DEI teaches that there are “privileged people” (whites, mostly male) and “marginalized people” (everyone else) in society and that organizations must change the way they do business to “raise the marginalized to equity” with the privileged – i.e., prefer people with non-white skin color and females due to their “marginalized” status.

Hmmm – let’s see – of the 5 school board members + the superintendent (6 people) – there are three females, three males, and one person with black skin – and that happened without a “DEI initiative” – imagine that.

Just in case you forgot the black female political science professor’s warning: “The greatest threat to American society today, I would argue, is coming from the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion industry.” Carol Swain, PhD, retired professor of political science, Vanderbilt University

  1. The teaching of African-American/Hispanic/Female history should have a patriotic and uplifting tone, while still acknowledging the past errors of the USA – and of all countries – in regards to the slavery issue without singling out the USA as being “especially egregious” in regards to slavery. This “decolonizing” plan is neither “uplifting” nor “patriotic – its goal is the exact opposite of “e pluribus unum” – from many, one. In fact, the plan’s goal is the opposite: from “one group of students learning American culture” to “many culturally divided groups of students.”
  1. FYI – the etymology of the word “slave” is from the word “Slavic” because long before Africans were taken to North America, the Slavic people (primarily white Eastern Europeans) had been enslaved by people all around them for hundreds of years, to include North Africans who took them back to Africa as slaves – a million or so to be exact – more than twice the number of black slaves transported to North America (about 388,000) – and white slaves were still being bought and sold in the Islamic world decades after blacks were freed in the United States. Will we be teaching that history?
  1. “A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 – a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.” ––research-suggests-white-slavery-was-much-more-common-than-previously-believed/
  1. “And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage”:
  1. I am willing to participate and/or supervise this effort.  

Educational resources for you:

  1. An article on “decolonization curriculum” –

the word “decolonize” is used twice in the AAHTF draft plan on pages 104 and page 105, and the phrase “decolonization curriculum” is actually in the AAHTF draft plan.

  1. Black female former political science professor Carol Swain “Carol Swain: ‘Greatest threat’ to society is ‘diversity, equity, inclusion industry’:

Here we have a black female telling us that DEI – which is the main part of the AAHTF plan – is Marxist and racist!

It’s not just me, the “white male,” who is saying what I am saying. In fact, I got educated on these issues by listening to Carol Swain and other black educators.

Carol Swain again on “the nonsense of systemic racism” and the incredible American transformation of “systemic reform”: 

  1. Cultural Marxism by Voddie Baucham, a black PhD, “Voddie Baucham – Defining Cultural Marxism and Hegemony.” “Decolonization curriculum” means “take down the hegemonic culture” (white European colonization male culture):
  1. Thomas Sowell – the preeminent economist in America today – a 91-year-old black man – on the dangers of “multiculturalism”:

Thomas Sowell again, “Facts About SLAVERY They Don’t Teach You at School”:

  1. The speech that every principal in Manatee County should give on day one:

Please heed what I am saying here and take the steps I lay out above as a template to redo the AAHTF. The answer that “the state is making us do this plan” is not an acceptable answer. I sat in the workshop on March 11th as this plan was briefed. It is an internal plan to Manatee County based on “best practices” from other counties around us. We may have “standards from the state to teach,” but there is no requirement to inject DEI/CRT/Implicit bias training, etc., into the school system plan to teach these standards. This plan is CRT on steroids, period.

With the recent laws passed this session in Florida, this whole plan is probably now illegal. Indeed, if you go back and watch the video of the briefing on March 11th, Latrina Singleton, the DEI plan coordinator says, “after the legislation that was passed yesterday [apparently March 10th], that does cause some concern…[but] we don’t induct or try to indoctrinate our students.” Any plan that has “DEI” and “decolonization curriculum” at its core – as the AAHTF plan does – is most certainly “multi-cultural indoctrination Critical Race Theory.” Ms. Singleton is either ignorant of what DEI/CRT is (my guess) or she is not telling the truth (probably not the case.)

We don’t want a Loudon County type reaction here in Manatee County – take action now to stop this DEI/CRT initiative in its infancy. 

Finally – please do not try to put the “racist” label on me. You need merely ask around a bit in the black community up in Palmetto to find out that “racist” is most assuredly not a word that can apply to me.

E pluribus unum

Editor’s Note:  Richard Tatem is a candidate running for the Manatee County School Board seat representing District 5.

3 Responses

  1. May I simply say what a relief to uncover somebody that really understands what theyre discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people really need to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that youre not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts – and for being a great American!

      Patriotically yours

      Richard Tatem, Colonel (retired), USAF*
      *No Dept of Defense of USAF endorsement implied

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