By Rosetta Miller Perry

The Lilly White Williamson County Board of Education has recently made national news, and not in a positive or flattering way. Multiple broadcasts showed the ugly scene of parents openly threatening health officials for the crime of trying to protect their very own children. It was a sorry display of bullying and disgraceful behavior, with parents even yelling at officials that “we know who you are,” a statement more usually uttered by gangsters when targeting potential victims.

But while the Board can’t be held totally responsible for the awful actions of some parents, it is accountable for representing the interests of everyone within its boundaries. And on that score the Board needs to move into the 21st century and recognize that there are Black parents and children attending those schools, and that those families and children need to be represented as well. It’s long past time for there to be a Black member on the Williamson County Board of Education.

For those who would be quick to label this “tokenism,” the Board covers 12 voting districts. One member is elected from each district to serve a four-year term. Now can anyone truthfully say that in 2021 there are NO qualified Blacks who could serve on the Board, or that there are NO issues affecting Black children and families in the districts? One of the things that too many people, both in this state and across this nation, fail to understand is Black people live EVERYWHERE. They are no longer limited to small pockets and should also not be viewed as afterthoughts or a constituency to be ignored.

The time is particularly right because Brad Fiscus is stepping down from his seat in September. Fiscus has no doubt had his fill of nonsense, watching his wife get fired from her job as the Tennessee Department of Health’s top vaccine official for daring to tell the truth about children and vaccines, plus having a firsthand seat at the nonsense that went on a couple of weeks ago at the Board meeting when the members rightly issued a mask mandate to protect children for COVID-19 infections.

Perhaps the dumbest part of this whole mask debate is the notion that preventing infection is tantamount to dictatorship, as though people should have the right to walk around and spread a disease. COVID-19 is killing thousands of people in this region and across this nation. People who’ve spent their lives and careers studying infectious diseases should be the ones in charge of the strategy to fight it, not people who have no idea what they’re talking about in regards to either the spread of disease or the boundaries of the constitution.

Some new blood on the Williamson County Board of Education, and especially a Black member, will bring a fresh perspective and insight to the group at a time when it is most needed. We urge the Board to take this seriously, and to act with speed in addressing an issue that should have been dealt with years ago. Black children and Black families need to know their concerns are being viewed with the same urgency as their white counterparts, and they need to see leadership that looks like them and truly understands and empathizes with their daily struggles.