Eight months ago, SURJ joined the fight to rid Buffalo’s Board of Education of its racist and bigoted member, Carl Paladino, after his Artvoice comments were published. Through our protests and demonstrations at BOE meetings, at the Department of Education in Albany, and in our community, we have proved that the people of Buffalo reject Carl’s racist behavior. Our Can Carl coalition is large, diverse, and united.
The actions echoed the Buffalo Board of Education majority who voted to remove Carl Paladino from the Board due to his racist, transphobic, and otherwise inappropriate comments about former President Barack Obama and then First Lady Michelle Obama. Today, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia made it clear what side she is on, and its is the side of justice, when she announced that Carl Paladino would finally be removed from his position as Park District Board Member at long last.
Students, parents, teachers, activists, and community members applauded the decision, which seemed to most to be a no-brainer given his long list of transgressions throughout not only this year but many previous years.
In addition, the Buffalo community was unified in committing to continue to support the Board majority who has diligently worked over the past year to accomplish a great deal despite Paladino’s attempt to distract from his own growing unpopularity and this important work through advocating for state receivership.
These feeble attempts in no way dissuaded activists who continued to show up month after month to remind him that they would not stop until he was removed from the Buffalo Board of Education for his constant disdain for his colleagues in the majority, comprised almost exclusively of women of color, mockery of the public school system which meant to be an equalizer in American society, and, most importantly, his continued unchecked racism, bigotry, and xenophobia.
The Board majority also persisted despite his actions in order to pass a nationally recognized Code of Conduct with emphasis on Restorative Practices & Trauma Informed Care, a comprehensive and inclusive Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Policy, and, lastly, implementation of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Education that will ensure that the learning of all students, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds is respected and greatly enhanced.
Buffalo is a better place today because Carl Paladino no longer has any power or authority over the lives of tens of thousands of children of color in the Buffalo Public Schools. He has never been fit to serve and Commissioner Elia’s decision makes that very clear. Paladino will no longer terrorize the Board majority or embarrass the parents, teachers, and community members with his outdated mentality and retrograde positions. He is not a martyr for any cause; he’s a capitalist who has lost his ability to profit free of public scrutiny, once and for all. —SURJ BUFFALO
SURJ Buffalo organizes white people for racial justice across Erie County. It was one of several groups, including Queers for Racial Justice, Just Resisting, and others that coordinated demonstrations aimed at removing Carl Paladino from the Buffalo Board of Education.