On the heels of Dr. Martin Luther Kings' birthday, white supremacist groups in the city and county of Jackson had rallied Proud Boys and supporters by attacking JPS BoE member Kesha Hamilton and describing her as racist for her anti-racism work around diversity, equity and inclusion. Hamilton currently is serving her 3rd year as a JPS board member and was recently voted to serve in her 3rd year as City of Jackson Racial Equity Commission chair.
Ms. Hamilton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration. Ms. Hamilton is employed with Community Action Agency as a Training Specialist. As an anti-racist, equity and diversity educator, Hamilton uses her social media platforms to discuss and engage her network around the impacts of racism in society as well as the continued implicit biases and systemic discrimination that continues to plague institutions, organizations and systems.
On Dec. 18th, 2022 Ms. Hamilton posted on Twitter an anti-racist description of whiteness, defined as ‘white racialized identity (which) refers to the way that white people, their customs, culture and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups are compared.’* 'Writers crafted whiteness (white racialized identity) as a national inheritance, a way to preserve the social construction of American life and, ironically, its democratic institutions and values. Given the extent of the nation’s belief in white supremacy, one would be astonished if it had not been a guiding principle...'**
These radicalized, white supremacist agitators and their supporters took tweets from BoE Kesha Hamilton’s personal Twitter account where she expounded on the reality of Whiteness; as an anti-racist educator, they've twisted the truth, have called her a racist and planned a large demonstration on Tues., Jan. 17th at 5:45pm at the JPS Board Meeting.
The chronology of events is summarized below
- In 2020 Kesha Hamilton campaigned on racial equity, student and parental engagement, skilled trades, budget reflecting values, transparency, etc.
- By 2021 an apparent riff had begun ensuing at the board after questions posed by Ms. Hamilton around transparency, student and parent engagement, budget concerns, racial equity and school discipline policies with Ms. Hamilton and one other board member on one side and the other 5 board members on one side.
- By 2022 a toxic and unhealthy relationship between the two opposing groups had developed to the point that Ms. Hamilton accused the only male board member and the superintendent each of threatening and harassing her. The male board member apologized and an investigation was launched on the superintendent.
- During the early months of 2022 former teachers, students and parents began showing up for public comment at the school board meetings to detail their similar experiences of harassment and threatening behavior from this superintendent and his administration.
- By April of 2022 the partial investigation was complete and the superintendent was found to be 'not guilty' of threatening or harassing BoE Trustee Kesha Hamilton.
- In December 2022 Ms. Hamilton took to Twitter to describe the system of whiteness, defined above.
- Around January 8th, Ms. Hamilton's December tweet was discovered online and thereafter a campaign, that included an accusation of Ms. Hamilton being a racist and an online call to action to show up to the Tuesday, January 17th BoE meeting, was launched by the Proud Boys and their allies.
- Around January 9th current BoE President and formerly elected JPS Board of Education Treasurer allied themselves with these extremist groups and contacted multiple city official, including the mayor and the chief diversity officer, with the same accusations as the Proud Boys and requested that Ms. Hamilton be removed from her roles and positions at the city.
- On January 10th Ms. Hamilton agreed to speak with an outspoken female member of the Jackson Patriots, another deeply conservative republican group in Jackson city and county. While attempting to end the meeting Ms. Hamilton was grabbed by the female member in an attempt to keep Ms. Hamilton from leaving the conversation, tantamount to a misdemeanor battery, although Ms. Hamilton did not file a police report.
While Ms. Hamilton had become the target of the Proud Boys and their supporters misplaced hatred because of the work that she does at the school board and in the community –
The Real Attack was and is
- an attempt to eliminate public education that serves primarily students of the global majority, marginalized and other vulnerable students.
- an attempt to disempower an oppressed group of people
- an attempt to steal the seat of a board member who champions equity in all its forms and works hard for you
- an attempt to silence and halt the discussion of racial disparities that exist in not only this district but also our city, county, state and nation.
Ms. Hamilton's work and her bold approach opposes their radical views and has now incensed them as well as having given leverage to Ms. Hamilton's political enemies on the school board and within the community.
As a result of this white supremacist reaction many Black leaders, community members, White allies and students planned a show of solidarity and support. They planned to speak up and speak out during public comment following in Dr. Kings steps in recognizing that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere …. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” – Dr. King
“Our concern should not be that I named whiteness as a perfidious evil, but that such perfidious evils still persists in our communities .” – Kesha Hamilton