I’m a naturally skeptical person. I openly admit that when I hear “so and so said something racist”, I roll my eyes. Half the time I admit that something is probably an overreaction after a careful thought process. I’m a reasonable person. I saw a post from a member of the school committee member about how someone was able to go on a racist rant during the meeting without being cut off. I get it. You don’t want to be seen as infringing on one’s right to free speech. I decided to watch the moment for myself because, “No, it can’t be that bad.” I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I audibly gasped multiple times and I still don’t even know what his point was. I mean, I guess I do. Maybe?
What’s first shocking to me is that you would go up and speak on public access television and give your address and then give a speech about “those people”. I should rewind a minute. When you start off about “Black people were the most literate group of people between the years of and now look at ‘those’ people and how illiterate they are now…” Then you repeatedly refer to this group as “those people” in a tone that is somewhere between disgust and condescension, before talking about how white people ripped black babies from their home and put them into a program called “Head Start” and why do we pay teachers to not educate “those people” and I’m white and I’m not sure if I’m racist or if I’m extra racist because I have a white savior complex that allows me to sit here and lecture you teachers on how you failed “those people”. (Paraphrasing of course, with absolute condescension in my tone.)
I guess I kind of see a point here, as outlandish as this person was in his rant about the shortcomings of the schools. The schools in poorer neighborhoods in some areas aren’t as well funded and therefore are underserved. Somehow, I’m pretty sure that’s not his point because his point seemed to be “white people are purposely keeping them down so that they can’t use the excess of advantages they get just for being one of ‘those people’ that we don’t get as white people”. There is a conversation that needs to be had about those communities that aren’t getting the proper education to succeed. But that’s a failing of policies and other things, not some democratic ploy to keep “those people” down.
I should have started with that I will be mocking this individual throughout this entire post by using his emphasis on the phrase “those people”, because I think it’s so ridiculous that he repeatedly used this phrasing and I wanted you to feel the cringe every time that I say it too. As I said on Facebook when commenting about the video after watching it: “I was expecting him to toss out some slurs and talk about how ‘those people’ end up on welfare mooching my tax payer money. But I guess the upside was that he didn’t?”
Now, to address a couple of things here. Yes, we as a society need to do better to lift these underserved communities. Yes, we need to make real change so that everyone has access to a quality education. These are facts that no one can really dispute. If kids get this access, then they will be less likely to continue the cycle of poverty. You reduce poverty, you can start reducing crime. These are basic social facts. This isn’t just a problem with one race; there are people of many backgrounds that live in poverty. Helping people get the necessary education and develop important skills is a wise investment into lifting those who want a better life up.
The other thing to address is freedom of speech. I’m conflicted as to whether or not I think he should have been cut off. On one hand, at least he didn’t drop slurs. But on the other hand, there’s the argument of what he was talking about seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with anything on the agenda. I failed to see the line in the agenda minutes about “Those People”, “How Schools are Failing Those People”, or “Addressing Racial Inequality”. I saw something about mask mandates in school. But, nothing about “Weird Old Man Goes on Racist Rant for 3 and 1/2 Minutes”. But, opening the floor to the public means that the public can have their say. But, I mean. Not even to comment about it? I definitely heard someone else gasp while he was talking, presumably a school committee member that was mic’ed up. But that’s it? Surely a public official should say something like, ‘His views do not represent the views of our city.” Even if they don’t mean it, but something? Aside from the school committee that mentioned it, which led to this blog post.
Is this just me ranting about local politics again? Yes. But the fact that we’ve come to a point where a person can just go off on a rant about minorities like that out of left field makes me scared for my own family. Was this guy a racist? I’m not sure. I don’t know him. Did he maybe have some valid points? Perhaps. But it’s so hard to see it with how he said it. He came off as a racist and that’s how he’s going to be defined. Is that fair that he’s going to be defined as a racist because of what he said? I would argue that you put yourself at a disadvantage in making a point when you single out a specific race in a rant that would arguably described as “uneducated potentially racist rant about how those people are uneducated”.