Union Schools are reckoning with their problems with race over the controversial “Redskin” mascot. however at least one school board member finds himself struggling with language used by President Donald J. Trump but is obviously insensitive when used on a micro level. Which makes one wonder why Trump gets to make racist remarks with no consequences. Union school board member Jeff Bennett (since 2006) responded to some parents with intolerant language. Now there are calls for him to step down.
Parents are concerned for the safety of their children as school boards wrestle with whether to go to an online format or return to school. Often those people who support going back to school are mimicking the irrational stances of Trump who some theorize believes returning to school is a sign the pandemic is over or was exaggerated. With no vaccine and cases still rising, going back to school seems foolhardy if not dangerous. Bennett, using language to respond to concerned parents said the problem is “the deadly Chinese virus.” This less than tolerant language was shared by the parents and it created a call for Bennett to step down.
Bennett faced an angry audience at the latest school board meeting and was less than contrite. His messages online also were riddled with grammatical errors and conspiracy theories. The rest of the board was not supportive of his actions and at least one called for his resignation.
In a district that is 79 percent people of color, Union has long wrestled with racial issues. Lately, they have combatted the native American community over the Redskin mascot, and it was once again on the agenda. The school announced the formation of a 35-person community that will come up with a recommendation on the future use of the mascot name. It is loaded with Union alumni known for supporting the Redskin mascot and a few advocates for change. It seems they have not learned anything. During last month’s meeting Native American alumni, parents and students took to the podium to call for change. Apparently, not loud enough. And apparently, at least one who is not ready to see all people as equals.
Republican Party Leader Backs The Blue In Opposition To BLM Art
Bob Jack says he asked the city to allow the painting of “Back the Blue” slogan on the streets in direct response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) art on Greenwood. The art was put on the street to respond to President Donald J. Trump coming to Tulsa to kick off his campaign rally. In a cruel sense of irony Trump planned to come on Juneteenth. The reaction to a president some consider an avowed racist was strong and the community. Of course, Trump has more than his fair share of supporters.
Trump is also known for his blind support for police departments and has not supported the BLM movement or opposed the actions of police which at times ends in violence or death. Trump’s reaction has been to blindly support police departments and sent armed federal agents to combat non-violent protesters. Jack, acting, he says as a private citizen contacted city councilors to suggest painting Back the Blue is a bit of strange irony. Accordingly, a police officer kills George Floyd on the streets in Minneapolis and Tulsa’s reaction is that this city backs the blue. Others might suggest the support was born out of the tragic shooting of a pair of Tulsa Police Department officers that ended in the death of one of them.
Jack’s request was sent to the city attorney who said if the city allows BLM to stand then it would have to allow anyone with a slogan to paint a Tulsa street. The mayor planned to simply erase it from the site of the 1921 Race Massacre. Sort of a bad visual. City leaders are now developing plans on what to do next.
As it stands now BLM is still there and is visible from up high and stunning to see up close. Jack apparently does not share the historic or artistic expression the slogan shows. Jack has tried to link BLM the slogan/movement with BLM the organization that espouses some viewpoints not shared by everyone. The only thing similar between the movement and the organization they are against black people being shot by police. Jack believes the organization which had noting to do with the painted rallying cry for the sanctity of black lives is Marxist in its origin. There is one chapter in Oklahoma and few marching in the streets of Tulsa during those troubled days were affiliated with BLM or scary words like Marxism. BLM’s website does not list Tulsa among its existing chapters.
The Rev. Mario Johnson is the President of the Tulsa Chapter of BLM and supports the continued existence of the words painted on the streets of Greenwood by a local artist. They were not directed by Johnson nor does he take credit for it.
Of course, it has already been marred by those opposed to the concept of protecting BLM sentiments. Supporters were quick to paint over the hateful attempts to quash racial tolerance. It is now bright yellow and visible from the air on this historic street where Black Wall Street stood and was bombed and torched 99 years ago.
Sadly, Tulsa joins that sad fraternity of metropolitan cities in America where the words Black Lives Matter have been vandalized. The city councils of cities across the nation approved the painting in what must be a foreign concept to Tulsa councilors. The murals were done to promote social justice and racial equality. Clearly, those cities like Tulsa have a lot of work today before the idea that black lives matter so much that killing them because of the color of their skin is unthinkable.
Jack is using scary and polarizing words to fight the growing belief that Black Lives Matter. We support the strong non-violent belief that Black Lives Matter and as we approach the 100 year anniversary of the race massacre this movement for a better America should start where it failed a century ago.