It's not a racial issue, it's a learning issue

“My advice to my peers, people of color, and my generation, start making these white teachers accountable for instructing you. They tooled this profession, they brag about their credentials, they brag about their tenure, so if you have so much experience then find a more productive way to teach the so called “unteachable”.”

The young lady who said this was thirteen-year-old Jada Williams, who was accepting an award from the Frederick Douglass Foundation in New York.

Jada wanted to enter an essay contest in school, and wrote about her impression of Frederick Douglass’ The Narrative of Life of Frederick Douglass, but it was never submitted. What Jada wrote apparently offended her teachers so much that she was harassed and forced to leave the school.

Jada and her mother Karla Williams joined Glenn on GBTV to discuss the incident. Glenn, who had a candid discussion about the essay this morning on radio, started the interview off by telling Ms. Williams and her daughter that he believes she was correct, if he understood what she was saying in her essay, but it was the use of the words “white teachers” as opposed to “teachers” that has changed the argument into one about race as opposed to making her original point.

Glenn asked Jada what she meant by the words “white teachers.” Jada explained that she was using the language from the book, which was published back in the 1800’s.

Jada, a student in the eighth grade, next explained that after turning her essay in, her English teacher told her that she was offended by the essay. “She [Jada’s teacher] said she felt like it mocked her. And asked me if I had any black teachers,” Jada explained.

Jada responded by telling her teacher that yes, she did have a black teacher.

According to the report Glenn read, Jada, mostly A and B+ student, had a dramatic decline in her grades following the incident. Jada’s mother commented that before the incident with the essay she never experienced academic problems with Jada.

“I would attend parent teacher conferences, and would hear ‘I wish I had twenty more students like Jada’,” Karla Williams explained.

After the incident, however, that changed. She began receiving phone calls that Jada was angry, but when Jada’s mother would question the claims she wouldn’t receive any substantial feedback. There was even talk of Jada being put in in-school suspension, but no one would provide any clear explanation as to why.

At that point Jada’s mother decided to remove her daughter from the school. She didn’t want those teachers to be instructing her daughter, because the clear message from Jada was that she wasn’t getting sufficient education, and the very claims her teachers were upset over.

Glenn, who you probably know is not a big proponent of our current nationalized public school system, broke this down to the roots of progressivism.

“Frederick Douglass new that if you don’t teach children... that is the way to make them a slave. And I think that’s what we’re doing, because this system does not work at all,” Glenn said.

Glenn worries that Jada is being used by both sides, those who want to make her a villain, and those who want to call the education system racist, but that’s not what this is about to Jada or her mother.

“I know this is absolutely not about racism, it’s about the education of our children, and that’s what needs to the focus,” Jada’s mother told Glenn, later adding “if that’s all it’s about [color] then how far will we ever get?”

Glenn asked Jada, “What have you taken away from this experience? What have you learned?”

A tearful Jada replied, “I feel misunderstood, because most grownups are making it a racial issue, when it’s a learning issue. I also feel hurt, because I’m not in school right now. They’re taking from me the one thing that I do love, and I feel confused because I thought I lived in a country of freedom of speech.”

The Frederick Douglass Foundation did still accept Jada’s essay and present her with the award. They also showed Jada and her mother David Barton’s The American History of Black and White.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!