By Styles Avant-Pinkston ’19
Although you may not realize it, the people around you don’t all have the same views as you. This reigns true for your teachers too. Believe it or not, teachers are actual humans beings with their own feelings and emotions. Teachers also have their political party views as well. At Pritzker, there’s Democrats, Republicans, and Independents too, and the Pritzker Press was able to get one person from each party to sit down and have a discussion together focusing on immigration issues and Black Lives Matter movement.
There were three participants in this discussion:10th grade world history teacher, Kaellagh Cassidy, a Democrat, PE teacher and Football coach Mark Rychlik ,a Republican, and 9th grade Algebra teacher Alex Riggs and for lack of a better word, Independent. It should be noted that these participants were discussing their own views, so there are some things they agree on, even though their political parties may not always agree.
The first topic was the Trump ban and immigration laws in America. According to Rychlik, the view of the Republican party is that they should enforce laws, laws that were unforced under George W. Bush and Obama. Rychlik then went on to say “We started seeing, when pressure is applied, that undocumented or illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds, violent criminal backgrounds, those were the ones deported.” Rychlik made it very clear that the immigrant criminals are the ones who need to be deported but not a mother trying to provide for her kids. Rychlik also said “As far as the Trump ban goes, Trump’s problem is communication.” Rychlik feels if Trump would have communicated better and read the constitution, the ban could of been rolled out differently. Referring to Trump’s travel ban, he also stated, “When you ban people from a certain country and forget that the 9/11 bombers were from Saudi Arabia, which the ban doesn’t include, and the Taliban is actually from Pakistan, which the ban doesn’t include,” it further shows Trump’s problem of communication. Cassidy and Riggs both agreed with this. Rychlik also feels that because Europe has let refugees in, more terrorist attacks have happened in Europe and in places like France and Germany.
Riggs took an anti-ban stand and stated that he has two issues with the Trump ban and illegal immigrants. His gripe with the Trump ban is that the itself sets a real poor example for other countries to follow. The U.S is a country built on immigrants, Cassidy also agrees with this. Riggs also said, “and for a world leader to close our doors in such a time of need, because we do have the largest number of refugees since World War 2.” Riggs feels that isolation is a sign of weakness and that it seems really bad when the leader of the free world is closing America’s doors. While Riggs does agree with Rychlik that there is a risk in letting immigrants in, that’s a risk Riggs is willing to take.
Cassidy starts her opinion off with agreeing with Rychlik’s point that we need to uphold the law. But also says “We haven’t been able to because of our divided congress to pass a current immigration policy.” Cassidy states that Undocumented immigrants are only a problem because of the U.S. government being behind on their immigration laws. Cassidy also stated that there’s always been prejudice towards immigrants, but she then states that immigrants should be a part of American society because they give more than they take from the economy. Also, because America is built on the backbone of immigrants. Cassidy mostly agreed with points already said about Trump ban and wants to see if a ban is going to stop anything when Obama had already increased visa systems, when he was still in office. Cassidy also firmly believes that the ban would cause more terrorism and make America a bigger target.
The final topic was about the BLM movement and how we could improve cops and minorities’ relationships. Riggs starts off by saying, “I’m pro BLM movement, in general, and very pro any movement that is trying to build awareness of social issues that doesn’t have a spotlight.” Riggs says that he understands that some BLM protest has gotten out of hand and resulted in violence. But also notes that just because people claim that they are pro BLM movement doesn’t mean they represent it. “Those instances have been used to demonize the movement.” Riggs then says the movement is for having better relationship with cops and better awareness of how people of color aren’t treated the same as whites. He then questions why minority neighborhoods have more police patrolling than white neighborhoods, although the drug user rate is even among all races. “[Colored] folks are more likely to be incarcerated for the same drug crimes.” Riggs then finishes off by saying “It is not unfair to ask for police accountability, the way we ask for citizen accountability.”
Rychlik then wanted to know why BLM is only focused on police violence rather than including innocent people who die because of gangbangers shooting? He agrees that their anger is justified, and also agrees with Riggs that there are agitators turning a peaceful movement into a violent one.
Nevertheless, Rychlick also believes that strong relationships are absolutely needed with police and minorities. He, however, brings up the point that there are injustices on both sides. “When I was a kid, probably before a lot of you were born, Ice Cube had a song called cop killer and not far after that there was the whole mentality of snitches get stitches.” He then stated that we need more people to come forward to help the community and make it safe. Rychlik then mention how he was going to bring his kid to a basketball game on the West Side, but decided not to after the story of the three kids getting killed. “Why isn’t BLM marching for those fallen kids?,” Rychlik asked. Rychlik then states that the number one solution for violence is to create more jobs and education. “Let’s get the adults working and let’s get kids their education.”
Cassidy started off by saying “There is a trust gap between two the parties, minorities and cops, and the tension is at a heightened state.” She also notes that it seems like the tension between cops and blacks has increased, although it has been a problem for a long time. Cassidy then states that there’s this idea ,on both sides, of no snitching. There is no unbiased party, which is supposed to be the officers, but they’re not willing to rat on each other, just like the black community. This makes it hard to de-escalate the tension. “There should be more training for police about how to deal with certain situations, de-escalation.” Cassidy then says that a police job is a really dangerous job that requires quick decision making ,and she doesn’t think there’s been enough of that type of training up to this point. Cassidy started to talk about racism in the cops’ workforce. “If the black community doesn’t trust the police then the police can’t find any real intelligence and do their job correctly,” says Cassidy. Racism clearly existed; we can’t denied that or be color blind. She thinks that there is an obvious bias present against blacks by cops and a major way to get rid of this bias is to teach cops not to immediately act on their first thought and train cops on de-escalation more than they currently are.