“I would like black kids to be completely empowered, to know that they are beautiful in their blackness, but, in order to do that, I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white.”
-Condoleezza Rice on The View 10/20/21
Recently, a white Virginia mother went viral for comments she made at a Loudoun County Public School Board Meeting. Like a perfectly-timed actualization of the quote above, the woman, whose identity has been withheld, removed her 6-year-old daughter from the school because she came home from school one day questioning her racial identity in correlation to being “born evil.”
There’s a lot of word sorcery being added to the miasma of today’s integrated pandemics. Allow me to attempt my own lyrical wizardry. Black cats are bad luck, bad guys wear black, it must’ve been a white guy who started all that. Without quotation marks, you might think that sentence was written by me, which makes sense under the default presumption of white criticism coming from a Black guy. However, the credit belongs to a white rapper named MC Serch. See what I did there?
Similar to Defund the Police, I think we’re promoting the concept of Critical Race Theory all wrong. It’s too Black and needs to be more White-centric. We need to learn about all the people in American history who died for just being white.
For example, how many of us learned about the abolitionist John Brown in school? Why not? He was from Charles Town, Virginia. Do you think the Virginia mother would oppose her daughter learning about Brown’s significance leading up to the Civil War? I ask because when she addressed the school board she described her definitive moment of snow-flaking as such:
”First, it was early Spring of 2020, when my 6 year old somberly came to me and asked me if she was born evil because she was a white person; something she learned in a history lesson in school.”
Well, first, notice how she just glazed over what the history lesson was, specifically. What if the school was teaching about Virginia native John Brown? Is that not part of the heritage they speak of?
Second, when did public schools start teaching history in first grade? Unless it was about Thanksgiving, then…oh, oops, never mind.
Finally, before taking on the financial hardship and proximity inconvenience of transferring her daughter to a private school, she couldn’t think of a response that empowers her whiteness without making her feel personally responsible for actions of the past. Perhaps, “No my porcelain princess, a very long time ago, a small number of white people were mean to Black people and even though we were nice enough to free them from slavery, they never said thank you, so we made laws that kept them separated from us before making them equal. Black is beautiful but Santa, Jesus and the best Barbie dolls are all white. If you have any trouble with them just call the police.”
Poor taste cynicism aside, it seems like her daughter was pretty advanced in her critical thought. Instead of nurturing a precocious mind, the mother stifled development with racist reflexes and the entitlement of privilege.
When Condoleezza Rice was 8 years old, she didn’t have the option to switch schools or not fear death. Raised in Birmingham, Alabama she was friends with Carol McNair, one of the four little girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. Rice was the daughter of a minister whose church was nearby. To say that it could’ve been her who died is an understatement. In an OWN interview, Rice states:
“Birmingham was beginning to be known as ‘Bombingham’ because there were so many unsolved bombings.”
Rice has been on record multiple times calling the day an act of “domestic terrorism.” Martin Luther King, Jr. called the bombing “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity” but now many conservatives, who don’t give a f-ck about Black people, are co-opting his quotes of judging character over skin color as if that’s how 911 operators ask you to describe culprits.
Even skin-folk like ESPN’s Sage Steele implied former POTUS Barack Obama’s self-identification as Black (making sure to add his Black father was missing from his childhood) was a slight to the white side of his family who raised him. So again, for the sellouts in the back, when enforcers of white supremacy target people who look like the 44th president, they don’t seem to care about the percent ratio of racial DNA or what they selected on the Census. To create a colorblindness of convenience is to devoid all language of the literal definition of a rainbow – the rainbow that is enuf.
Words aren’t evolving; they’re shape-shifting to protect the evil-doers who profit from division and the perpetrators of hate who want to play victim under the banner of patriotism. Oh, the witchcraft of whiteness, where large is small and a black coffee has milk if you can create some kind of legal re-classification lactose. No, that doesn’t make sense, which is the point – one cup of Mumbo Jumbo, please.
In this word salad, can any lettuce be used to qualify as Caesar’s if it has croutons and the right dressing? I say Critical Race Theory might be served best by excluding Black subject matter altogether. Let’s learn about the 1963 bombing through the lens of all-white actors. Set the stage with George Wallace, the governor of Alabama at the time. Discuss how the FBI had concluded the crime was committed by four members of the Klu Klux Klan in 1965 but only one person, Robert Chambliss, was convicted 14 years later. One of the accomplices died in 1994 and the remaining two weren’t convicted until 2001 and 2002.
This is not ancient history.
Since no child should feel they were “born evil” based on skin color, there needs to be diversity within the whiteness. Students should also learn about white people like Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and Viola Liuzzo. When discovering how and why they all died, students might critically compare it to recent history with someone like Heather Heyer who was killed during Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Even in the hypothetical, the irony of CRT is, if the collegiate application was simply a debate class on the public discourse of CRT in society, it would be just as effective as its actual curriculum. This has become a social experiment that exposes our critical condition. We shouldn’t have to explain that Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is English Literature, not a historical text, then, in turn, have disputes about The 1619 Project. All of these racial subjects aren’t intellectual arguments; they’re emotional ones, based on how unfiltered history makes white people feel.
This brings us back to Condi the comforter; who seems to advocate docile assimilation and a myth of unbiased meritocracy for Black people; where being classically trained in instruments and ballet will overcome the obstacles, arrests and weapons formed against us. Ignore the bombs – trends of mass destruction and designs of mass incarceration are their problem, not yours – this is what’s suggested in her motivational keynotes.
I get what Rice is TRYING to say, but she speaks with this “move on” dismissiveness as if it’s uncommon for little colored girls to feel bad from history lessons taught, negative depictions, use of coded language or direct insults hurled by both students and teachers since the days of early integration all the way to this day – a time period that parallels Rice’s lifespan. I try to disregard her messaging by exercising gestures like MC Serch’s “gas face” but get too sickened by my opinionated conclusion that Condi would rather coddle the Virginia mother and her daughter by reaffirming their livelihood than burden them with the memory of her childhood friend, Carol McNair, a victim of evil that still exists.
Trevor is a creative mercenary and ethical lobbyist born and raised on Beale Street. Follow him on Twitter @trevbetter.