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COVID-19 isn’t the only disease spread by know-nothing Americans.Ibram Kendi, who wrote “How to Be an Antiracist,” said, “Racism is a grown-up disease, and they should stop using our kids to spread it.”My biracial grandson was a third-grader when he was first called the “N” word. Don’t tell me kids shouldn’t be taught about racism. Some parents are teaching their kids to spread the disease.The radical right nationally and throughout Wyoming have made it their cause celebre to bury the truth. According to the ACLU, 27 state legislatures, including Wyoming’s, entertain efforts to restrict education on racism.The “big lie” isn’t limited to the 2020 election. Wyoming’s chief school superintendent, Jillian Balow, made the evidence-free claim that Wyoming schools teach critical race theory “related topics such as white oppression, white privilege and Marxism.” She didn’t name the schools or teachers whose reputations she smeared. It was demagoguery, a venal sin for public servants.But, like everything from COVID to climate, Wyoming and the nation are divided on race, Blue vs. Red, truth vs. prevarication. The Pew Research Center asked Americans if increased awareness of race issues was good for society. Forty-six percent of Republicans said “no,” while 9% of Democrats answered in the negative.Eighty-five percent of Democrats believe “white privilege” is real. Three-fourths of Republicans say whites don’t benefit from the color of their skin.Other enlightening data appeared in the 2020 census. The Census Bureau reported, “The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority. All in all, minorities, now 37% of the U.S. population, are projected to comprise 57% of the population in 2060.”The decline in numbers of whites is viewed negatively by 38% of conservatives and 7% of liberals.Fear of changing demographics betrays the possibility that white folk know more than they’ll admit about how minorities are treated in America. These data explain why so many on the right are adamant that certain people should not be able to vote and why they oppose schools teaching the truth about race.Wyoming pols take cues from the likes of Hannity and Tucker, joining the orchestrated lying about the nature of CRT. Parents who never read “The 1619 Project,” and have no idea what CRT means, are duped into lining up at school board meetings to decry both.One of the great opening lines of a book is Peter Canellos’s introduction to his biography of anti-racist Supreme Court Justice John Marshal Harlan. “There are silences in American history.” Yes, mostly about race.For the first time, a lot of adults are hearing the truth about the real brutality of slavery, the post-Reconstruction horrors, Black Codes, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, lynching, the Tulsa race massacre and systemic racism.It is awful, especially when you didn’t learn it in school. It’s inconsistent with the America we learned about. Like fingernails on a blackboard. Worse yet is to witness proof that the Christian church was central to enslaving Africans and terrorizing Blacks before, during and after the Civil War. To this very day, some continue to be a part of denying people of color are made in the image of God.Neither “The 1619 Project” nor CRT is dangerous to your children, unless you plan to recruit them to spread the disease.Wyoming’s demographics will never reflect the nation. We’ll get older, whiter, more conservative. From the cheap seats, Wyoming will watch and bemoan what’s going on in the rest of the country. Wyoming will keep alive the threadbare “Equality State” myth. But, just as the kids eventually learn the family’s secrets and resent parents who buried them, most Wyoming children will figure it out.Young people will continue leaving the state, unwilling to spread the disease. As the old white folks they leave behind cling to their racist notions, they will stop even asking why.
Rodger McDaniel lives in Laramie and is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Email: [email protected]
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