School Official Says Latino Kids Don’t Need Air Conditioning, Are Used To The Heat

Meet Denise Elsken! She’s a member of the Martinez Unified School District, which on March 30th voted to install air conditioning at the predominantly white John Swett Elementary over the predominantly latino Las Juntas Elementary.They only had enough money to install air conditioning at one school, and Elsken had a less than charming explanation for why they chose to give it to the white school.

“I really don’t care how this comes out, I would say 95 percent of the students at Las Juntas do not have air-conditioning in their homes. So whether that means those students are more acclimated and can handle a little bit more heat than the John Swett students, which I would say 95 percent of their residents have air-conditioning in their homes.”

Though this is not technically what Robin DiAngelo meant when she wrote about “white fragility,” I’m not sure what else I can call this.

Elsken claims that her comments were not racist, but that they were taken out of context. Which is true. Her comments were not merely racist, but also classist. Because she basically said, “Those kids are poor, and are not used to nice things like air conditioning! So we should give the air conditioning to the rich kids who are too delicate to deal with not having nice things like air conditioning!” which is also messed up.

But hey! The kids at Las Juntas are at least getting something. Elsken says that they will plant some trees, for shade purposes, by the windows. Huh.

[CBS San Francisco]