A Response to This Book Is Anti-Racist Being Taught to our Children
No, America is not systematically racist. Yes, there are racists in this country. No there is no way of looking at a person and determining if that person is racist. While you can make laws against racist practices, there is no law that can force away the ignorance of racism in a racist’s mind. You cannot legislate away ignorance. You have to teach. There was a song in a Broadway musical that says to be prejudiced “You have to be carefully taught.” We have to find ways of unteaching. This book does not do that.
In Montgomery County our children are being taught from a book called “This Book is Anti-Racist.”
It is the most racist book I have read. In it the author, Tiffany Jewell states:
In our society REVERSE RACISM IS NOT REAL. People will bring it up from time to time and you can remind them that personal prejudice is indeed real. However, institutions continue to misuse power to maintain a racist foundation against Black, Brown, and Indigenous folx*. Therefore, the only people who benefit from that are white people. Contrary to the dictionary definition, racism is more that the personal prejudice” part of the equation.
This definition is made up by the author who does admit that she has a personal prejudice against white people, but because of her made-up definition or racism, her prejudice is not racist! (????)
The dictionary definition of racism is: a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
Throughout her book the author denigrates white people.
In his I Have a Dream speech, Martin Luther King said, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” It makes no sense to try to turn hatred upside down so that you still teach that one race is better than another, but you endeavor to reverse who should be disdainful of whom.
Let us try to find solutions together. Let us try to combat ignorance. Tiffany Jewell is contemptuous of who people say “When I look at you, I do not see color.” I don’t think I have actually used that phrase myself, but if I were to say it, I would not mean I cannot tell what color you are. Of course, I can see a difference in skin color, of course I can tell if you have blond hair or gray hair or black hair. If course I can see that your eyes are brown and mine are blue or hazel or green. What I would have meant was, of course. I know we have had different experiences. But even though we come to this moment with different personal experiences, you and I are able to talk, work together, or even have lunch together without a preconception of how the other thinks and feels. Our differences are of value. We may have had dissimilar events that make up our past, but together we can find a way to fix a problem, or maybe we can just enjoy each other’s company and have lunch together and talk about our families or the weather, or how good the food is at this restaurant.
In her Anti-Racist racist book, the author talks of our history. She only mentions negative things that happened. There is no doubt that over hundreds of years, there have been many atrocities committed by those in authority; there have been many injustices and outrageous acts of violence committed against people, especially people of color. This is part of our history and absolutely needs to be taught. Slavery cannot be shoved under a rug, especially in a country which was founded on the principle that, “All men are created equal.” But we need also to understand that from the beginning there were large groups of citizens who spoke out against slavery. The Republican Party was established to end slavery (and it did). Anti-slavery activists set up the underground railroad, they fought a civil war. Many gave up their lives. Not every soldier who died, died to end slavery, but many saw the injustice of it and the end result was that slavery was legally abolished in this country.
After slavery was abolished, there was still injustice both on the personal level and on the government level.
This country, inspired by Martin Luther King became much more aware of racism and the problems it causes. Because of his movement and his I Have a Dream speech, laws were passed to rectify egregious faults and abolish the contemptable segregation laws, but there will always be work to do. Let’s do it together.
* Folx is used in this book instead of “folks” because the author says folx is gender neutral … By replacing the k with an x it allows the reader who has never been seen before to see themselves in here.
(Not sure I understand the need to misspell a word I would have previously thought is perfectly impartial … I never thought folks denoted a gender.)
Patricia Fenati is a Member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and Chair of its District 14 Committee.