Your 2021 Beaverton School Board Voter’s Guide

If you read your 2021 Washington County voter’s pamphlet, there’s a lot of delightful and often neutral sounding stuff in there: let’s get back to school, let’s keep class sizes down, let’s keep kids safe. We all want that. But there’s a lot under the rhetoric. Let’s break it down.

  • Four races are happening for Beaverton School District positions.
  • Everyone who is a voter within the Beaverton School District boundaries votes in all the races.
  • Our school board is seven members, six are white (the one Black member of the board is not running for re-election and her spot is open).
  • Our county is over half people of color. Race does not determine someone’s views or positions, but lived experience is important to bring to the board. For example, our school district disproportionately disciplines Black and Latinx kids, kids who come from families with low-incomes, and special ed kids. We need school board members who will actively build relationships within those student populations and not rely on the district and other school officials explaining away the problems.

We can assume that everyone in the district is a good person and no one is intending to cause harm. And yet we still have very inequitable outcomes for students. Nice people is not enough. We’ve had plenty of time with white, don’t-rock-the-boat school boards. It’s time to meet the moment and get a board ready to achieve equity and seek racial justice. Let’s get some shit done.

Here’s who to vote for:

Ugonna Enyinnaya. As an attorney, an immigrant, a woman of color, and a mother of a BSD student, Ugonna will bring skill, unique insights and important lived experiences to the School Board.

Ugonna will make an excellent school board member and bring a perspective that the board sorely needs. She’s very interested in listening to students and is raising a son who is currently in middle school. Raising a Black son in the Beaverton School District is a challenge. We need Ugonna’s voice. And yet, this is the hardest race to win because Ugonna’s opponent is a very middle-of-the-road white lady incumbent. In the school board meetings I’ve watched, I can’t point to one interesting thing that Ugonna’s opponent has said. But she’s a safe white lady who has been on the board. Those things alone will probably sway white, middle class voters. But not us! We’re voting Ugonna. Let’s do this, people!

Dr. Karen Pérez-Da Silva. Karen has 20+ years of experience in education and advocacy. Her expertise in bilingual, bicultural education, along with her support of initiatives to diversify the teacher workforce in Oregon will build momentum for racial justice in our school district. She’s awesome. Of course vote for her. She’ll be running for a higher position at some point I hope–she’s incredibly talented.
Sunita Garg. Sunita believes taking an in-depth look at the diverse BSD population is critical to eradicating the status quo. Sunita’s experiences and perspectives are key for strong action toward achieving equity for all students. Sunita’s opponent Saralyn Dougall is running on an all-lives-matter platform. She believes Black lives matter insofar as everyone matters. This is a problem because in order to create a more just society, we have to look at how our society has been set up specifically to drive inequality for centuries. More on this below. Vote Sunita. It’s important.
Now this is a fun race. Susan Greenberg has been on the school board and she’s fine. Susan is more willing than other current school board members to talk about equity, and yet we still haven’t seen strong stances from Susan when it comes to meeting the needs of our students facing the most trauma–whether due to race, class, or immigration status. But, Susan’s opponent Jeanette Schade is a real bummer of a candidate. Think white Christian nationalism and… well that really sums it up. Christianity is entwined with white supremacy going WAY back, and the trouble is that the dulcet tones of eternal salvation through a rigid interpretation of the Bible that only accepts heterosexual, cisgendered people who stick to specific male/female norms are just so sweet. I’m Christian (devout, progressive), and this white Christian nationalism BS really gets my panties in a wad. So vote for Susan. Susan is CLEARLY the right choice, just also please donate to Ugonna’s campaign and maybe be real about the fact that Susan is still very middle-of-the-road. But with a cool new board around her, there’s hope!

Confusing Rhetoric Explained

We’ve seen candidates like use confusing language. Let’s unpack some of it.

What does it mean if you hear a candidate say that science should be taught “based on biology”?

This is transphobic language. It means the candidate believes that sex and gender are always the same. Our LGBTQIA+ students suffer under policies made based on this thinking that excludes students who don’t conform to heterosexual norms. This is the same type of thinking that has allowed the spread of discriminatory anti-trans legislation like “bathroom bills” and athletics bills. We should be seeking to undo and heal harm rather than perpetuate it.

What does “politics out of schools” mean?

“Politics out of schools” is being used in backlash to 2020’s racial justice tipping point. It assumes that before 2020, schools were neutral and apolitical. The fight for Black lives, equity, and human rights is not inherently political, but it does mean reexamining school norms and learning to be better.

What does it mean if you hear a candidate say that Critical Race Theory has no place in our schools or is racist?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around for decades. It’s a field of study that helps people see where and how racism exists today. In order to fight racism, we must understand how it works. Racism is much more than our own individual beliefs. Critical Race Theory helps us see how the long history of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, voter suppression, immigration practices, etc. continue to impact US laws, policy, attitudes, education, justice, and more.

Fear-mongering about Critical Race Theory falls into a well-worn pattern of white supremacy that seeks to discredit racial justice movements. Beware of claims of reverse racism, Marxism, communism, or other fear tactics that have been used since the Civil Rights Movement to stoke fear when the status quo is challenged.

Graphics content collaboratively created by West Haven for Black Lives. Graphics by Nectar Digital Collaborative.

Wandering Around Listless in a Primal Scream State at the One-Year Anniversary of Pandemic

I snuck in one last flight last year around this time for an out-and-back trip to Los Angeles for a meeting. It was sunny and gorgeous in LA and dark and dreary in Portland. The flights were already basically empty. 

And that was it. 

I am now wandering around listlessly in a pandemic purgatory dream state.

***

I do not care about the history of Daylight Savings Time. I just want it to stop. That’s never been more clear than at the one year anniversary of pandemic. I’m sad for seemingly no reason, and I’ve been talking with friends who are feeling the same way. 

My internet was acting up yesterday right before a video call. I texted my kick-ass client Sarah to ask if she might be able to run the meeting if I disappeared into the nothingness of physical life. She responded with what will become my motto for 2021: “I can assert that I’m not in a mental headspace to lead this ship.”

***

Some days are too much. And some days are too much and they also steal an hour from you. It’s not that anything catastrophic happened on Sunday after the construct of Daylight Savings Time snatched away 60 minutes, it’s that each thing piled up to leave me crying in the kitchen at 9:00pm wondering how to dry dishes. 

It started this way.

My grandmother, who shall never know that her existence has been mentioned here on the blog because we are never going to tell her because she hates the idea of things on the internet, has been getting hundreds of spam text messages. She is 87-years-young and she’s a voracious texter, and she loves it when we text her photos of the great-grandchildren. She doesn’t know not to respond to stupid spam texts. So she says things like “Stop” or “Your grandma loves you,” which encourages more texts and now she’s being invited by the dozen to view sites like findamilf.com and raunchysingles.com. Sites she would totally love, of course, it’s just that now it’s hard to find the family members she likes to text amidst all these delightful invitations. And she accidentally pinned all the spam numbers to her favorites in what ostensibly was a fit of frustrated right swiping. 

So the Fairy Pig and I swung by with a box of Girl Scout cookies and an invitation to walk over to get a cappuccino, where we could all sit outside, socially distanced in the rain, to try to solve this phone situation. Spoiler alert: just get the TextKiller or SMS Filter apps. Verizon can’t do anything. But after a very long time which included me taking a five-year-old to the bathroom in a strange place while chatting with the phone company, my customer service helper did suggest those. Totally worth the hour on the phone to freeze your poor grandma’s bones off in the rain. 

And then the series of little things just piled on…

I got home to cook, and as I washed my rice before cooking, bunches of little weevil bodies floated to the top.

I googled, “my rice has bugs can I eat it.” Yes, just wash them out. So then I washed my rice like 100 more times and then looked through the pantry to figure out if the weevils had friends.

Then I remembered it was jury duty for me on Monday, and I was supposed to call to find out if I needed to report. The automated system told me it couldn’t recognize me or find my number. I decided Captcha has been right all along. I probably am a robot. 

Then we put the kids down after tons of little fights–the kind of fights where people say cutting things to each other but it never really comes to full-out meltdowns, your sanity just dies slowly over the course of a few hours.

Then I stubbed my toe on the wave board that had been left in the middle of the kitchen and suddenly it was 9:00pm, because an hour had been snatched out of my little hands.

***

Here we are on Friday. Jury duty, it turns out, had been canceled. Monday, I got to go for a long drive, which allowed me to ponder whether my own screams could give me a headache–cars being basically soundproof isolation chambers, when you have the chance to be in one by yourself.

The week just kept coming with its slow churn of sadness. Not deep, dark sadness, just rainy and mundane sadness and emotional fatigue. 

So if you all are feeling it, I see you. And for those of you who have already shared or affirmed your own grief or sadness that seems to have sort of come out of nowhere, thank you.

Grief and Transformation in Pandemic Parenting

This is a stuffed bear from my childhood. It's upside down, standing on its head on a futon.

It’s February and we’re coming up on the one year mark of when we all started Pandemic Parenting. If my great-great grandmother were alive, I could ask her about parenting through a pandemic, and the corresponding anti-mask societies that had popped up then. No one likes a pandemic and we all rebel against its restrictions, sometimes to our deadly comeuppance. Or to the unintended deaths of others. Because cause and effect, it turns out, are never more apparent than in a pandemic.

But she is not alive. And so we forge ahead untethered. 

And in this period of blind progress through time, I am sitting here, almost one year in, feeling a lot of grief. “I feel like we’ve taken one step forward and ten steps back,” I said when I was chatting with my husband in the bathroom last week. 

I have grief about parenting through a pandemic, about how my anger flares up so quickly, about how I wish my children wouldn’t remember me as a screamer but how I watch myself cementing those memories week over week. 

We are 11 years–a bachelor’s and a Master’s and a Ph.D.–into parenting, and here I am unmoored from the dock and I find myself lilting in the wild, open seas. All the parenting books and classes and child therapists we’ve seen, nothing has left me prepared or feeling like I’ve passed the course. 

I recently took the parenting anger management and kid anger books off the shelf and dropped them off at one of our little neighborhood free libraries. Those clear-cabineted giant birdhouses that hold literary gems and cast-offs. In fact, you may drop any parenting books that you feel might transform my life off on my front door, and I shall find homes for them in the little book birdhouses nearby. 

I find myself taking a radical new tack. I am centering my own wholeness and healing and liberation. I started to find hope through a transformational ending racism course I took, and the amazing mentoring of my business coach, Shamaka Schumake. Two avenues that are not focused on children. For me this comes as a shock and aha!

We’ve gone about parenting struggles as if they were child-centered and solving them focused on solving the child with parenting strategies. I remember myself as a compassionate and thoughtful person who didn’t yell before I had kids. So it seemed natural that kids were the root of my turmoil. But perhaps they are a beloved mirror, the original #unfiltered. They’re showing me my whole self.

I asked my husband to take an ending oppression workshop with me in March. It’s premise is that all people are good and all people are hurt, that oppression hurts everyone who participates in it, and that we must heal and discharge trauma so that we don’t keep perpetuating it. We were weighing whether we could afford the course for both of us. “We would spend this much on an intervention for one of our children,” I said. 

My oldest is two years past the halfway mark of his time with us, our middle child is halfway through, and our youngest is almost a third of the way. I have time. I can show them that I’m growing and learning and capable of transforming even under circumstances that only my great-great-grandmother would remember. 


P.S. A note on my parenting advice boundaries. You are welcome to share your experiences with things that have changed your life. I ask that you keep it focused on you and your experience without suggesting that I do the same thing that worked for you. As many of us with challenging parenting situations will tell you, we’ve had 6,000 different strategies recommended and we’ve tried 8,000. And although you are likely coming from a place of feeling like you are unique in recommending the thing that will change my life, you might not know that I’ve already been offered the thing unsolicited many, many times. What I don’t see offered up online enough are real and candid talks about parenting struggles in a way that centers the humanity and goodness of people. Writing also fulfills my need to be seen and heard. So I will keep writing and keep offering any unsolicited advice to the book birdhouses of the world (which, as a side note, is also where I stash phrases like this too shall pass and cherish every moment, perhaps because my heart is just a block of Minecraft obsidian).

This Metaphor Revolves Around Leg Hair

I don’t shave my legs. It’s not that I have translucent leg hair that serves only to give my calves an extra glow. I have loads of dark brown hair. But in the last couple years I’ve cared less and less about shaving, even during the summer. That’s not to say I’m giving up on myself or letting myself go or throwing in the towel or whatever people say. I’m quite fashionable. Here I am in bespoke Jeff Boothe jeans. 

Evelyn sits on a blue couch looking at the camera with her legs in the air to show off jeans that have wild paint splatters and print and brush strokes all over them. She holds a pillow that says "LOVE," and wears reading glasses. A painting by artist Jeff Boothe that is an abstract deep blue, teal, and black whale head kind of shape is on her left.
Jeff Boothe pants and painting: double bonus points.

Shaving and level-of-fashion-sense and sexiness are not tied together. I have lots of other things I want to do besides shave my legs. Plus I want to save that extra shower water for the hot bath I take almost every night that does much more for my well being. 

But the other night I felt like I wanted to start fresh in 2021 and shave my legs. So I got out my husband’s electric razor. Is that what it’s called? Let’s call it the Fuzz Remover. It makes a satisfying ZHUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ noise. Right leg, ZHUZZZZZZZZZZ, done. Left leg, going great. Then ZHUZZ UZZZ UZZ… It started slowing down. The Fuzz Remover was like, “Lady, this is toooo much for me! You have so much leg hair. I just. UZZ. can’t. UZ. handle. Z. it.” 

And it died. 

And I was left with a dark brown mohawk and some ankle patches down my left leg. I really willed the Fuzz Remover to keep going and it gave a valiant effort. But it died. And now I’m left with a really weird coronavirus leg styling. 

And it got me thinking. This is very much like my parenting. 

I’m a very good parent. I also (and in a not mutually exclusive kind of way) have a LOT of parenting challenges, because parenting is quite difficult. And I find myself very broken up about it sometimes. Many times. 

As a writer I focus a lot on the part of parenting where the energy runs out and it’s a mess. That’s what I share with you. It’s like we’re friends walking down the street and I pull up my pant leg in public and show you my weird mohawk leg hair. 

A lot of people like to stay covered in public in winter. They like to wear clothes that make them look good, and even add makeup. (As do I, but we’re in a metaphor about leg hair here.) It makes a lot of sense to put on mostly the great stuff and share the socially acceptable stuff.  

Sort of early on in parenting I realized I was a real mixed bag. And I also now realize that sometimes people think I’m a mess, kind of like it’s a static thing. Like the original Voodoo Donut is on 2nd and Ash. It’s a thing. Google will tell you. But unlike that fun and obvious fact about donuts, I’m more of a dynamic ball of neon, glittery slime that’s rarely in the same place. 

So I guess this is a manifest eleven years down the road. I post a lot of look-behind-the-curtain content because not everyone feels comfortable sharing the most anxiety-producing and personal and embarrassing parts of parenting, but a lot of people feel solidarity. The parenting anger and the exhaustion and the screaming into the void or in the house, the need to get help and deal with your mental health like it’s about to knock you out cold if you don’t. I don’t write about everything. I protect myself in some places. But I do lift up my pant leg quite a bit.

I very seldom desire advice. I want to be seen and I want you to feel comfort and companionship because of it. I realize that the highlight reels of social media aren’t the full picture of anyone’s parenting, but that it’s important to be able to put out the beautiful and proud moments because we need those badges of honor because the work is so hard. So I (and plenty of other writers, too) am here to overshare, possibly so that you don’t have to, and often so that I can be heard.

And I apologize if I’ve not reacted great when you’ve shared something delightful that happened in your parenting. Sometimes I haven’t seen your challenges so it makes it hard for me to be rah-rah about your awesomeness. But that’s me and my deal.

For those of you whom I’ve interacted with over DMs, I love you, and I treasure our conversations. To my commenters, I adore you. You fill me with warm fuzzies. And to all of you who share about your own struggles in ways that are somewhat public and very vulnerable, you kick some serious ass.

Jeff Boothe is an amazing Portland artist. I am in love with how he is so joyful with color and movement and I’m so lucky to have two pairs of his pants (although you have GOT to see his paintings). Follow him on Instagram. DM him about paintings and clothes that cover up your leg hair. xoxo