In Monday's post, Fergus Area College Foundation sponsored speaker who said white men are target of racism, we looked at the Fergus Falls Journal's coverage of a lecture by France Rice, before reviewing Right Wing Watch's posts about the Republican over the years.
Bluestem wasn't the only reading the news article.
Today's Fergus Falls Journal published a guest column by Underwood resident and Women’s Foundation of Minnesota vice-chair Victoria McWane-Creek, Coverage of Bigwood speech inaccurate. McWane-Creek, who attended the lecture, writes:
I was appalled at the coverage of Lt. Col. Rice’s lecture for the Bigwood event series. The print edition’s headline seemed sensational and the content regurgitated Rice’s perspective; reporting lacked attendee feedback, offered no alternative perspective, and provided no relevant context. I attended expecting to hear this accomplished woman’s incredible story. Instead, Rice delivered a treatise on how the Republican Party is for blacks, how there is no real racism, how middle class White people are the most discriminated against group, and the “real” civil rights history. To summarize, Rice does not personally experience racism and concludes that racism and institutional discrimination no longer exist.
Rice’s conclusion rests on the belief that the Constitution guaranteed equal opportunity for all. This is a distorted belief based on an assumption that the Constitution valued inclusion. Missing from Rice’s assessment, and the Journal article, was the intent that white, landed men only benefit from its protection and rights; ignoring the documented legacy of unequal application of laws where black, native, Japanese, Muslim, and gender non-conforming people are concerned (e.g. mass incarceration, education, health, wealth and income disparities, and death at the hands of authority etc.) Some laws sought to diminish non-whites access while others sought to privilege whiteness (see Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Harris-Perry’s Sister Citizen, or Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action was White). . . .
Listening to Rice, I thought of The Invisible Gorilla. It investigated how attention, memory, and knowledge distort beliefs, they contended that “the distorted beliefs we hold…are not just wrong, but wrong in dangerous ways” (Chabris & Simons, 2010, p. 68). Distorted beliefs are automatic and do not require or welcome close examination. Mezirow wrote that distorted premises lead to viewing “reality in a way that arbitrarily limits what is included…or does not facilitate integration of experience” (1991, p. 118).
Racism and institutional discrimination are powerful socio-political constructs that society has yet to dismantle. Rice posits a dangerous notion that encourages a false sense of accomplishment — without supportive evidence. Considering that unarmed black people are more likely to be killed by those authorized to use deadly force, our education system often fails students of color, significantly higher black unemployment, drastically less black wealth, and that my family faces racial profiling whenever we relocate, not challenging this notion is dangerous. The structures that generate “barriers and disadvantages for some and privileges and advantages for others’’ remain (Burke, 2013, p. 840).
This article forwards the unchallenged notion that white privilege and discrimination no longer exist and intimates that society eliminated institutional impediments to opportunity. I expect journalists to apply their craft, provide context, and use multiple perspectives. Furthermore, I hope that subsequent coverage enlightens readers, provides necessary context, challenges assumptions, utilizes data, allows readers to connect authentically with the issues, and builds a more informed citizenry.
Underwood resident Victoria McWane-Creek is pursuing a doctorate of educational leadership at Concordia University and is a public conversations project practitioner.
On the same day that Journal published the guest column, another article appeared in the Journal, Underwood woman named vice chair of statewide foundation:
An Underwood woman has been named vice chair for the Minneapolis-based Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
Victoria McWane-Creek has dedicated her personal and professional life to lifting the voices of people left on the margins of society, including youth, people in poverty and survivors of sexual abuse, according to a news release.
She currently works as a Title III student success coach at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls.
Along with her service to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, McWane-Creek currently serves on the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program Youth Advisory Council and the Women of Color and Native Women’s Leadership Council.
She is currently working on her doctor of education degree with Concordia University- Portland, and holds a master’s degree in instructional design and technology from the University of North Dakota and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University.
Photo: Victoria McWane-Creek via Facebook. After growing up in the Crosby-Ironton area and attending college in Oregon, McWane-Creek returned to Minnesota as a VISTA volunteer in the area nearly ten years ago, remaining to work and learn in the region.
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