Donald J. Trump is doing everything in his power (and beyond what his power technically allows) to stoke the flames of a race war in the U.S. when his administration should be working to squelch them. At a time when protests demanding racial justice have lasted more than 100 days in cities across America with no signs of letting up, buttressed by a global pandemic that has unearthed on prime time television the stark racial disparities in health care, job, education, and housing security, he responds by trying to outlaw anti-bias training and education, potentially violating First Amendment rights of curriculum developers. Instead of admitting that racism is a sickness, he chose to call the programs that are designed to eradicate racism, “a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue.” After all, allowing truth-telling to continue would expose the harsh racial reality and white supremacy upon which this country was founded.
The evidence is glaring that the United States needs to invest more time, money and resources in authentic, truthful and healing dialogues about race, racism and white supremacist ideology. Almost every major city across the country is on the precipice of experiencing an all-out race war, as para-militias have begun to clash with peaceful protestors, and as the police are militarized with war-grade weapons. There can be no peace in America until the truth is taught, understood and the harms to human rights violations redressed. But Trump refuses to see past his own agenda and is willing to sacrifice the health and lives of his constituency for his own personal gain.
As racial tensions increase, President Trump is using this moment to further destabilize our nation by moving to pull federal funding and programs that support diversity, equity and inclusion training. Additionally, he is calling for the Department of Education to pull federal funding from school districts that utilize the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times’ 1619 Project as curriculum for students. As a tenured professor of women’s and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and founder of the national Truth and Conciliation Commission, I recognize that such moves are some of the most harmful actions that can be taken and will weaponize the Office of the President as a smoking gun against racial justice.
We can not be silent in the face of his actions! Now is the precise moment that will determine if we are to ever become the society that purports to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now is the time to learn more about ourselves and history, to tell the truth about who we have been so that we can do the conciliatory work to manifest the nation we desire to become. Now is the time for a national Truth and Conciliation Commission, not the time to run away from it.