Don’t let the hateful tactics of the Denver school board race make you forget that #DenverIsGood

It’s been almost a year since Denver’s fearless leader Mayor Hancock implored all of us to uphold the values of inclusivity and openness that make our city one of the most welcoming in the country.

With the president having just signed an executive order promising to defund sanctuary cities, the level of fear and anxiety rising in the Mile High City had us living up to our name in ways we’d rather not.

Despite the swastikas, hateful graffiti and threats to refugee communities that surfaced shortly thereafter, Mayor Hancock reminded us that this is not who we are, and Denver is good.

My, how quickly we forget.

Has it really taken less than a year and yet another election to erase this thought from memory?

For residents in Denver’s southwest region, a simple walk to the mailbox is enough to question our goodness. That’s because thousands of residents are receiving hate mail associated with Denver’s school board race in District 2.

There’s no post-cards blazoned with swastikas and no headlines shouting, “Go back where you came from.” But, hate wears many costumes, and not just on Halloween. It can hide itself with with masks and voice disguisers that whisper its messages in the most subtle ways.

But along with being good, Denver is also wise—and Denver is true.

So we recognize what’s going on when the union-backed Every Student Succeeds committee— dressed up in their cloaks of liberal advocacy—uses disingenuous mailers to defile the reputation of a young, Latina, school board candidate by linking her to the unwelcoming, exclusive, fear-mongering agenda of the Trump administration.

So regardless of who you’re planning to vote for in Denver’s School Board election, we’d all be wise to, at the very least, brush up on the facts about Angela Cobián:

  1. She’s the daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in Southwest Denver.
  2. She was the first in her family to go to college when she enrolled at Colorado College to study political science.
  3. A Teach For America alum, she spent two years teaching English learners in Denver.
  4. She currently works at Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonprofit organization that trains educators to advocate for policy changes.

And finally, in her own words, reported by Chalkbeat:

“I have in every single way lived out what the opportunity gap is in education. I have lived out what it means to be a young teacher of color in a very white-dominant space, teaching majority students of color… I speak English and Spanish with pride. To see someone slap a black and white picture of me next to two people who are unqualified to lead our country, who are the embodiment of white privilege in Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump, is so frustrating. I feel powerless. I know what racism feels like, so this isn’t new. But I am deeply pained.”

Seems to me there’s about as much truth to the image of Cobián nestled next to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump as there is to the photoshopped cover of a fashion magazine.

Mailers that warp reality and play on the fears of a community still on high alert due to changes in immigration policy is not what makes Denver good. But, if we seek a little wisdom, look for the truth, and resist any temptation to attack the identity of one another, we may be able to protect that which is so good about our city.

Whether or not you plan to vote for Cobián Tuesday is for you to decide. But, let’s remember what our mayor said less than a year ago: “While we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring, I believe in a community that protects each other, that includes each other and that sticks up for each other.”

Denver is good. And the only way it stays good is is by rejecting the subtle messages of hate that try to sneak their way in from the mail—to our heads, out our mouths and through our actions toward one another.

Photo courtesy of Chalkbeat


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