Dana Black: Recent school board meetings are reminiscent of past

Dana BlackWhat is with all these grown people acting like total imbeciles at local school board meetings? As a nation, we try to proclaim how much we have grown and evolved since 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools with the Brown v. Board of Education decision. But have we really?

We have seen the black-and-white pictures of grown men and women yelling, screaming and spitting on young Black students who simply wanted the same educational opportunities afforded to white students. We look at those photos and tell ourselves, “It was a long time ago,” or, “We are better than that.” One visit to YouTube and you can pull up newsreels of upset parents in the north over school busing of the 1970s.

Yet, over the past year, we have witnessed the exact same behavior displayed by adults over the myth that primary and secondary schools are teaching critical race theory or whether mask mandates to protect unvaccinated children from COVID-19 should be enacted. How interesting it is to see so many suburban school systems seeking to limit many aspects of U.S. history when, if they really studied the truth, they would see they are acting in the same ignorant way they proclaim to abhor from the 1950s and 1960s.

Right-wing thinks tanks certainly know how to frighten white parents into a rage and encourage them to display that rage at these meetings while simultaneously threatening school board members who are simply trying to do their jobs. Many meetings have had to have police present to protect the board members from attendees. How is that any different from when federal marshals protected Ruby Bridges in New Orleans or federal troops protected the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas?

The behavior of these parents is nothing short of an intimidation tactic to frighten school board members into vacating their seats or not seek reelection. Honestly, who would want to put up with that nonsense voluntarily?

The new political battleground is controlling the public education system and, in some cases, the continued dismantling of public education in favor of privatization. And those who wish to do so are using these parents as pawns to accomplish their goal of siphoning out public education dollars into the private sector.

What better way to take over local school boards than to create a new boogeyman for parents to be afraid of? Like the mythical fear of the Black boy attacking little white girls presented during the school desegregation debate of the 1950s, the myth that teachers are attempting to make little white kids feel bad about being white is now being used. One aspect of American culture that is forever true? Racialized fear tactics work every time.

To be clear, the education of our children is at stake. If we do not have the rigorous curriculum required for all Hoosier students to be competitive, our state will continue to lag behind. Not to mention that we are denying our students the opportunity to be fully informed thinking humans with nuanced views of our nation. These students are our future policymakers. We can’t maximize their effort if they are not armed with all the information about how we, as a nation, got here.

Yes, much of our history is riddled with ugliness. But maybe if we teach it and talk about it, we can recognize it in current adult behavior and stamp it out.•

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Black is former deputy chairwoman for engagement for the Indiana Democratic Party and a former candidate for the Indiana House. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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8 thoughts on “Dana Black: Recent school board meetings are reminiscent of past

  1. You aren’t paying attention to the primary reason for the protests, Dana, but I wouldn’t expect a Democrat operative to be doing so. We don’t need to be teaching children how different they are if we are to have a UNITED States of America.

    If you know of a better place on the planet to live, why not move there? Or you can stay here and keep picking away at the nation’s scabs so the wounds beneath never heal; is that what you want to do? It appears so.

    1. There’s absolutely nothing inaccurate about this column. I have certainly been paying attention to the primary reason(s) for the protests, and they focus entirely around the fragility of white parents and their insatiable quest to ensure their children are protected from critical thought and any facet of history they find the least bit uncomfortable. One recent example are the complaints surrounding Ruby Bridges’ autobiography in Tennessee.

      And the “if you don’t like it, you can leave” argument is the weakest of playground-grade retorts. Its purpose is to distract the reader from an argument you’re not able to provide.

    2. Quote from Erik D: I have certainly been paying attention to the primary reason(s) for the protests, and they focus entirely around the fragility of white parents and their insatiable quest to ensure their children are protected from critical thought and any facet of history they find the least bit uncomfortable.

      Pure baloney. Parents want their children to learn how to read, write, and be proficient in mathematics. Children should also be taught history, but not be taught they are privileged because their skin is a certain shade and, therefore, they “owe” somebody something beyond common courtesy and respect as fellow human beings.

      “Fragility of white parents” indeed. Give me a break; what a dopey remark. Disgusting and ignorant.

  2. I was thinking this article may have been about segregation resurfacing, but… it’s not.

    Dude, there are literally books in the library at elementary schools that show boys sucking each other dicks and wanting to hook up with older men… there is more and more transgenderism being embraced along with homophobia throughout schools and being “white” is part of the problem.

    Only, you think it is the right wing establishment that is manipulating concerned Christian parents into pushing their agenda?

    This article shows how detached the writer is from the issues reasonable rational parents have. These are the silent majority that are finally fed up with communist attacks on our nation that have only one purpose… to destroy America.

  3. I want to make certain I understand your responses. Are all of you suggesting that the bad behavior being displayed toward board members to the point of needing police protection is acceptable because of books in a library or the teaching or actual history?

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