It could be argued that the vast majority of parents do not want their children to be racist and welcome environments that continue to promote equality and fairness amongst all people. But we must get to a point where we start to ask ourselves when this push towards anti-racism goes too far and starts looking like prejudice and discrimination at the least and open, systemic racism by the schools at the most.
At a time when the once beloved Dr. Seuss is being cancelled, no one would dream about hosting an event with an author responsible for writing such phrases as: When average Black men fail to reap what they believe is their natural birthright, they turn their rage not on elite Black men but rather on the women and white people they blame for their loss of opportunity.
Or would they?
Redmond School District recently held a public Zoom event and invited the author of the above phrase, Ijeoma Oluo, to give a talk about racism. Except, what Oluo wrote wasn’t about Black men. The actual quote reads, “White male mediocrity sustains “a violent, sexist, racist status quo” and robs others of greatness and keeps them powerless and poor. When average White men fail to reap what they believe is their natural birthright, they turn their rage not on elite White men but rather on the women and people of color they blame for their loss of opportunity. Not surprisingly, White men are currently the “biggest domestic terror threats in this country.” A phrase that would be considered hateful and blatantly racist if it were written about BIPOC people, is somehow unquestionable and a necessary truth when written about white people.
In direct opposition to the ideals espoused in Mr. Luther King Jr.’s infamous “I have a Dream!” speech, it seems that we have moved to a place where people are very much judged by the color of the skin, and where the content of their character is assumed for them based on their heritage. Why is it suddenly ok for headlines and authors and speakers to openly abuse white skin color as if it is a scourge on humanity while simultaneously accusing them of treating other races the same? Isn’t that kind of gross generalization what we are claiming is the root of all of our problems in America? Is anyone else seeing this hypocrisy? And when does this kind of rhetoric start inflicting harm on our children? How is constantly dividing us into categories of oppressor and oppressed going to create unity?
A mere 61 years ago, Ruby Bridges bravely walked past jeers and signs of hatred to attend her recently desegregated school. We promised her and future children we would do better. Yet just a few weeks ago, after the tragic shooting in Atlanta, the marquee outside of Chief Leschi Elementary in Seattle greeted it’s student body, some of them white, with the call to “End White Terrorism!”. We have reports from parents that their children, some as as young as second grade, are lamenting and grieving their white skin, the guilt of the actions of their ancestors laying heavy on their 8yr old shoulders as they learn about the trail of tears. Is that really where we want this to go? Is that the end goal? To make white children feel guilty and responsible for sins they didn’t commit due to being born in a skin color they can’t escape? And then what? They will always be white. Again, no one sees the hypocrisy? When will it be enough?