To the Editor:
In a recently published Op-ed by Tony Monzo titled, “Critical Race Theory in Public Schools: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - a Trojan Horse,” Mr. Monzo claims that educating our youth about systemic prejudices is “Marxism.”
In my opinion, this brings us back to the political discourse of the second Red Scare. To say that educating students about race, gender, and sexual orientation is a part of a “socialist agenda” derives from McCarthyism and is a diversion from making positive social change.
Mr. Monzo writes that Marxist ideology says the solution to the power imbalance between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat was to raise the consciousness of the proletariat, seize the means of production, and overthrow the system. This is a generalized but fair understanding.
However, Mr. Monzo goes on to say that now the focus has shifted from “class warfare” to “racial warfare.” He vaguely references the Black Panther movement, which he refers to as a “revolutionary coalition,'' but states that they “lost out” in the 1960s civil rights movement.
I am not here to critique Mr. Monzo’s understanding of the different influences in the fight for racial justice in the 1960s, but rather the insinuation that educating our children on diversity and inclusion derives from Marx or Black Panthers is unfounded.
A key detail with Marxism is that it is in favor of revolution instead of reformation. Revolution would be violently overthrowing a system in its entirety and replacing it with something new. Reformation is working within the parameters of the existing system to make changes.
The government adjusting educational curriculums is reformation, not an act of revolution. Denizens of Cape May County, which is 90% white, according to the U.S. Census, having a better understanding of racial disparities will not cause our community to be overthrown into communist disarray.
Instead, what will happen is that we will have a generation of students who are more empathetic to various social issues and will reform our community to become more tolerant.
To be frank, Cape May County desperately needs a healthy dose of tolerance. This past year, we were noted for having doubled the amount of hate crimes in our county from 2019 to 2020. We made the Philadelphia news when a store was vandalized for celebrating LGBT-plus identities.
Perhaps this can be a teachable moment for not only children but adults as well. It might be uncomfortable to acknowledge that not all are treated with equal friendliness in cool Cape May, but acknowledgment is the first step towards making meaningful change, and by this, I don’t mean Marxist “redistribution of resources,” as Mr. Monzo wrote.
Instead, I challenge our community to reflect on our resistance towards teaching our children about prejudice and bias. Why are we afraid of teaching inclusion, equity, and diversity in our schools?
The honest answer is not because of Marxism.
Is it because many of us in this county benefit from the status quo, and we don’t want to lose this privilege? Is it because it’s easier to turn a blind eye to the prejudices that linger in our community rather than confronting them directly?
Are we afraid of telling our children the truth that America has a complicated past with racial justice and equality? Why?
I encourage readers of the Herald not to succumb to McCarthyist scare tactics and instead reflect on not only the benefits but the necessity of educating our children on combating hateful bias and becoming a citizen who truly believes in justice for all. Our county will become a kinder and more welcoming place because of it.