Thede: McGuire would grapple with racial tensions

Printed in the Quad City Times, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Like so many in our country right now, I am angry and deeply saddened by President Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. While his initial response was tepid at best, his clarification was stupefying and inflammatory at worst.

Our country desperately needs leadership that understands how to heal not divide. We need leadership that has an unbridled sense of fairness and a true understanding and appreciation of the cultures, races and religions that built this great democracy.

Like many Americans, I want my elected officials to speak out with clarity and purpose against those who support racism, bigotry and oppression in our country.

I support Andy McGuire for governor because she understands the institutional barriers that create the inequities that communities of color still experience today. She also is ready, willing and able to work on solutions to problems that have existed in our state and nation for a long, long time.

As a Democrat and an African American woman in the Iowa Legislature, I know what it is like to stand in the minority. I know what it is like to feel powerless to the majority party and the majority population. I also know what it is like to stand with my friends and colleagues who support me.

One of the places where we can begin to bring change is in our state’s public schools.

As the 2017–18 school year begins, Iowa educators should expect students to want to discuss the events in Charlottesville.

The hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum was started by Melinda D. Anderson, a contributing writer to the Atlantic, who wrote in an email:

“I started the hashtag for a very simple reason: I know that in these situations a common reaction by educators is, ‘What should I say? Where do I even begin? I also know that lots of educators are on Twitter — and they look to the platform to connect and learn. So I wanted to create a way to crowdsource resources that would help them begin to explore the historical underpinnings of white supremacy and use the materials to help bring context and clarity to events in Virginia — so they could carry that back to their classrooms and schools.”

Last year, we saw a dangerous increase in expressions of racial and religious hatred in classrooms and hallways. We heard about incidents of racial and religious bigotry on our university campuses, between teammates and in our classrooms that mirrored rhetoric kids heard on the presidential campaign trail. It was as if racists had been given a new license to say out loud and unchecked what they had long been thinking.

While discussions about race are often seen as emotional and polarizing, this discussion simply must happen at this time. Charlottesville and the Ku Klux Klan will not go away simply because we do not discuss them.

That’s why Andy McGuire believes that all of Iowa’s candidates for governor should be prepared to discuss the events in Charlottesville.

I support Andy McGuire as our next governor because I have known her for a long time and know her to speak honestly and openly about real resolutions to real problems.

Rep. Phyllis Thede, (D) Iowa House District 93

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