About Exposing 2nd Graders to Our History of White Brutality

About exposing 2nd graders to our history of white brutality:

Hearing that worry from Florida parents, my 1st thought was, “You have a point. It’s an awfully young age to face horrors.”

My 2nd thought was, “WTF, Lester? What about all the 2nd graders who aren’t white? Who live with that history daily?”

I like to think of myself as a woke ally. But that 1st thought reveals how deeply racism and classism are embedded in our society.

Last year, when I started monthly donations to Equal Justice Initiative, I also became aware of PushBlack, and subscribed to their Messenger updates.

My resultant awareness of unending cruelty toward American minorities is almost unbearable. I flinch with each new story. But once aware, how can you look away?

That we’ve gone more than 3 centuries without that brutality erupting into a race war and ethnic genocide says much about how carefully our government, often through the FBI, has managed to suppress or destroy minority leaders.

“Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.” The handwriting is on the wall.

Woke is about simple human decency.

But a byproduct, for those not yet ready to care about total strangers, is stability and peace.

2 thoughts on “About Exposing 2nd Graders to Our History of White Brutality

  • April 24, 2023 at 2:22 am

    Hi, Roger. I appreciate your taking the time to comment, and the strength of your convictions. There are a few, I believe, that are strongly worded in ways that show them unexamined. First, while I utterly agree that children “should not be raised to start believing that they are fundamentally different from each other,” it’s pretty obvious that minority children and the poor don’t have to be taught that they’re treated differently. They know they are, from simple experience.

    Recognizing my own white male privilege, I’m aware that it’s mine by birth not by choice, and there is no shame in being born into my circumstances. But I also recognize that much of American history, a primarily white male history, is shameful, that its ripples reach us even now, and my privilege allows me to say things that other genders and ethnicities cannot without being dismissed as bitter or “uppity.” I recognize that Muslims, Jews, and even atheists are reminded of their “otherness” every time they hear “America is a Christian nation, built on Christian values,” every time they drive by a Christmas display on a courthouse lawn, or listen to a Christian prayer at a public event. That Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Blacks are conscious of a higher risk of violence than me, simply because of their ethnicity. That women have to dress more carefully than men, that makeup is crazy expensive, and that I never fear being accosted or raped because of my sex and size.

    As a former educator, I saw how white privilege elevated even me, a Working Class boy, by steeping me in Standard American English, the “proper” usage for success in school and business. That inner city and rural English are looked down upon as ignorant. That even though I grew up in a trailer, it was free of roaches, I had dependable heat and water, and food to eat before school, while so many inner city children sleep poorly from roach infestation asthma, come to school hungry and unable to think. That my family had access to a wealth of food at A&P and Krogers, while the inner city had more limited and expensive options. That for far too many, the Armed Services are the only feasible way out, which means that our nation’s military harvests the poor.

    I also grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, fully aware of the Civil Rights struggle, the violence perpetrated upon Blacks by civilians and government alike. I saw what was accomplished, and what remained undone.

    The world is far from fair, far from everyone having anything even close to doing and being whatever they hope.

    I’m going to ask you to watch 13th, free on YouTube, and notice ways in which Black male children in particular are preyed upon by our legal structure. (It’s part of the reason I donate to the Equal Justice Initiative.) If you can watch that documentary and still hold to your beliefs that every child is born equally innocent of racism, that everyone “can DO anything and BE anything,” we’re hardly speaking the same language.

    Please do not comment again on this post until you have watched that documentary. Thank you.

  • April 23, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    You can have simple human decency without the woke movement. Racism is more pervasive NOW than it was in the seventies and eighties when I was growing up because we are fueling it. People are making money off of it. It’s how the Black Lives Matter organization (not to be confused with the movement) got rich off donations and has since not done anything to help the black community.
    You may hear of injustice that happens every day. It is not however, as widespread as people want to make it. When performing my regular job functions, I often have to work hard to convince people that I’m not working under preconceived notions and I’m there to help them. People are letting fear engendered by race baiters and agitators paint their perceptions of the world, and that only leads to more divisiveness.
    We live in a time of unprecedented opportunities for all peoples. I submit to you that your first idea WAS correct, because children should not be raised to start believing they are fundamentally different from each other, victims or aggressors because of their skin color, nor anything else, because it’s simply not true. If we program a child to think that they are lesser, for any reason, we do them an injustice. They only label they should carry is that of “child.” Let them enjoy it. Children are born into this world without prejudice. We don’t need to give them a head start on learning it. Teach them instead that they can DO anything and BE anything, because in this country at least, they can.

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