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Perspective | State superintendent candidate Jen Mangrum on racism

Dear world,

I am a white woman who has never been discriminated against. I have never had to deal with the fear that when either of my children leave the house, they are treated with cruelty or hatred because of their skin color. I can’t imagine the exhaustion, anger, and chaos that brings to a black or brown person, especially a parent, on a daily basis.

Racism is all around us. Racial smog. We are all in it, sharing space in it and some of us are unaware that it’s in the air we breathe. It is imperative that we look within ourselves and become aware of our biases, our judgments of others, and the stereotypes we hold inside.

Educators must be more aware than anyone because our black and brown students hear us, see us, and know who wants the best for them. We must hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable for our words and actions and always work to learn more and be more.

I don’t have the answers but I promise to be an ally and to stand in solidarity against racism. I promise to name it. Address it. Demand different behavior.

With my privilege comes great opportunity and responsibility, and I want you to have high expectations of me.

To my black and brown friends, colleagues, peers, and even strangers who deal with racism, please know that I am listening. I am learning. I want your help. I promise to grow and stretch myself.

Those of you that do know me. Thank you for keeping me on the path so that we can bring justice to an unjust world.

I am mourning the loss of George Floyd and the countless black lives lost simply because they were black.

— Jen  

Jen Mangrum

Dr. Jen Mangrum is a native North Carolinian and the daughter of two elementary school teachers. Jen studied Elementary Education at UNC-Wilmington before obtaining her Masters in Early Childhood Education from East Carolina University. Jen spent fourteen years teaching elementary in Onslow and Guilford Counties, then continued on to receive her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from UNC-Greensboro. In 2004, Jen started the Elementary Education program at NC State University. Jen is now a professor at UNCG, preparing future teachers in the School of Education. She is now candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.