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Sunday, May 16, 2021

When racism blinds common sense

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The raw, naked hatred and rancid racism of the conservative media and the Republican lunatic fringe unleashed another bigoted attack against President Barack Obama – condemning the president’s Tuesday speech to America’s school children.

From Florida’s Republican Party chairman, (where they stole an election nine years ago) to Fox’s racist Glenn Beck, the rabid, rotting rightwing excoriated the president for, in their twisted warped reality, believing Obama would “indoctrinate” students with “socialist” views or worse.

Unfortunately, the president’s hysterical critics forgot that two former Republican presidents talked to kids in their classrooms.

October 1, 1991 – the first President George Bush talked to students, pitching his education agenda but also stressing positive educational values.

In his speech, Bush “41” said, “No one dreams of becoming a dropout, but far too many do. Give yourself a decent shot at your dreams. Stay in school. Get that diploma.”

Bush also told students, “Don’t say school is boring and blame it on your teachers. Make your teachers work hard. Block out the kids who think it’s not cool to be smart. Don’t let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.”

Three years earlier on November 14, 1988, President Ronald Reagan spoke to and took questions from students. His speech and the Q&A was very political, like critics thought President Obama’s speech would be.

During the Q&A, an African-American student asked Reagan what was he doing to “increase educational opportunities for us.”

President Reagan answered, “One of the great things that our administration did when we came in here was immediately turn on to helping something that I think is historically wonderful in our country, and that is the Negro private colleges and universities.”

(Yes, Reagan did say Negro in 1988).

So what did our current president say to students that got their parents and the rabid rightwing so upset? What did the president say to cause most Indianapolis area school districts to not let their students see/hear it?

President Obama’s message to America’s schoolchildren included, “Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.” 

“But at the end of the day,” Obama continued, “the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.”

The President also told students, “No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them.”

And President Obama urged students, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”

How tragic that school administrators, frightened by bigots and thousands of white parents whipped into myopic hysterics by racists wouldn’t let their children hear these and the other words of affirmation and encouragement from President Obama.

What I’m Hearing

in the Streets

Last Wednesday, Congressman Andre Carson joined Senator Richard Lugar at the White House with President Obama at a dinner celebrating the conclusion of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

Three days later, Carson, one of the Grand Marshals of the Labor Day Parade, was refused entry to the parade route by an Indianapolis Metro police officer.

For 20 minutes, the officer refused to admit Carson, his wife and child and staff members riding in Carson’s official car with Indiana Congressional plates. At one point, the officer screamed at Carson, until a supervisor arrived and intervened.

A visibly angry Carson arrived late to the parade, delaying the event by several minutes.

There is no excuse for this IMPD officer’s boorish disrespect. IMPD should issue a full public apology to Congressman Carson and the people of the 7th District.

The annual Labor Day Parade marks the start of fall political campaigns. The upcoming Nov. 3 Wishard referendum saw a large contingent marching in the parade supporting the Wishard Referendum.

Even though there are no candidate elections in 2009, there will be in 2010 and 2011 and that brought out the candidates to the parade.

All but one of the prospective candidates for Marion County prosecutor was in the parade.

Incumbent Republican Carl Brizzi marched in the parade, as did two of his three Democratic challengers.

Veteran attorney Terry Curry, who’s being supported by several top Black and white Democratic Party leaders, was in the parade as was Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes, who faces an uphill climb to get party leaders’ endorsement.

Former State Representative David Orentlicher, also a prosecutor candidate, wasn’t at the parade.

Nearly all those wanting to succeed Sheriff Frank Anderson were in the parade. Republican candidate Tim Motsinger walked the route with supporters. Walking right behind Sheriff Anderson was Colonel John Layton who is seen as Anderson’s choice.

Also at the parade was a candidate wanting to be the second Black Sheriff in Marion County history. He’s Mark Brown (no relation), an IMPD officer who’s talking to party and community leaders about the race.

Another African-American, architect Vop Osili greeted parade participants. Osili’s running for Secretary of State, succeeding Republican Todd Rokita. Osili’s already visited over 30 Indiana counties mounting a credible, serious campaign.

Mayor Greg Ballard made a quick visit to the parade two hours before it began.

Meanwhile, three people who want his job, Democrats Melina Kennedy, Kip Tew and Joe Hogsett arrived when the parade began meeting and greeting union workers and their families.

The two African-Americans seriously looking at running for Mayor – Dr. Woody Myers and City-County Councilman Jose Evans weren’t there.

See ‘ya next week!

Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915.

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