The inspired Black child

David W. Marshall

The truth is always revealed despite the lies and misinformation sometimes communicated by those in and running for office.

Ignorance represents a lack of knowledge or information; therefore, ignorance is the opposite of knowledge. It is surprising how much the ignorance of voters will play a role when it comes to the GOP waging its culture war in America. 

A motivating factor behind many ambitious politicians resorting to lies and misinformation is the ignorance of those who will choose to accept and embrace the twisted truth. 

While access to the truth is always available, the facts will remain ignored and disregarded. The facts become irrelevant if the lie and misinformation feed an individual’s prejudices and/or political beliefs. A shrewd politician will recognize when they have a receptive audience with deliberate ignorance in which their lack of knowledge is by their choosing.

The culture war is not just a fight between conservatives and liberal ideologies. How this culture war is conducted shows it to be a fight between ignorance versus knowledge. The perfect example is the “birther” movement. Then-President Obama and the Dept. of Health in Hawaii approved the public release of Obama’s birth certificate to finally put the questions surrounding his nationality to rest. Once the birth certificate was made public, Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, questioned if the document was authentic. His MAGA supporters continued to believe the lie despite the facts.

After years of stirring up controversy, misinformation, and racial division, Trump eventually acknowledged what he knew all along, that Barack Obama is a natural-born American citizen. The “birther” movement was an effective means for Trump to politically prey on the deliberate ignorance of his MAGA supporters and exploit their willingness to reject the truth. 

When the “birther” movement was inserted into Trump’s culture war strategy, it perfectly fit as a “dog whistle” tactic when connecting the culture war with his quest for elected office. While the “birther” movement galvanized support among MAGA voters, it was a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, a means of disrespecting Obama and Black voters. It helped propel Trump to the White House. Now, “wokeness” has become the latest “dog whistle” and means of twisting the truth to satisfy and appeal to conservative voters.

Many GOP primary voters are passionate about wanting their presidential candidates to embrace and defend culture war issues. Therefore, it was no surprise that former South Carolina governor and US Ambassador Nikki Haley declared war on “wokeness” while giving her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

“I am running for president to renew an America that’s proud and strong, not weak and woke,” she said. “Wokeness” is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.”

The Republican presidential candidate was not done. During the same speech, Haley spoke about “election integrity” and the fact that as governor, she enacted a voter ID law. While hitting all the talking points that typically resonates with Republican voters, many within the CPAC audience still may be unable to state the true meaning of CRT. The same is now true about the definition of the term “woke.” Most of the CPAC audience will unlikely support her candidacy for president, but most will embrace her misinformation regarding the threat of being “woke.”

Why is the term, which began to gain popularity at the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014, rejected by many within the Republican Party? To be “woke” politically in the Black community means that someone is informed, educated, and conscious of social injustice and racial inequality, Merriam-Webster Dictionary states. To be “woke” means a person chooses knowledge over ignorance. It means the same individual accepts what can often be painful facts and, with empathy and compassion, chooses to dismantle the injustices impacting Black and brown communities. 

Haley made it clear this version of “wokeness” is more dangerous than the pandemic and its million deaths. The war against “wokeness” is to marginalize people and racial ideas that don’t align with their own. Since this is their rallying cry out of CPAC, what is the response from knowledgeable people?

The CPAC speech is a rallying cry on both sides. A big part of being “woke” means we are to be motivated to ensure Black children remain inspired. An inspired child is less likely to steal, kill, and destroy. An inspired child is more likely to embrace the ideas and examples of Black empowerment from our Black history. 

Where states such as Florida, Tennessee, and Texas have passed so-called “anti-critical race theory” bills that limit how race is taught, this becomes a rallying cry to protect the interests of Black students everywhere. Jessica Kibblewhite is a sixth-grade social science teacher in Chicago. Sixth graders are at a vulnerable age. As a White teacher who works with Black students, Kibblewhite said it’s important for students to see themselves in history books. 

“Students don’t learn anything unless they’re deeply engaged,” said Kibblewhite. “If students don’t see themselves in characters in text or (instead) historical figures that look different from them, they’ll be less likely to be engaged.”

A less engaged child is a less inspired child.

David W. Marshall is the founder of the faith-based organization TRB: The Reconciled Body and author of the book God Bless Our Divided America. 

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