Can local Blacks summon the courage to force change?
Let’s adopt, alter and restate a popular neoconservative formula for identifying ducks (feathered, flat-billed, web-footed foul in the family of Anatidae) to describe St. Cloud racism. If St. Cloud condones racism, maintains racism, and boasts a psychopathic history of racism, it’s racist. The many investigative studies and media reports have merely exposed the details: St. Cloud is still putrid after 154 years of pride-filled racism.
As in most racist communities, imbecilic police parrot city hall prejudices that promote race-based oppression under color of law. Predictably positive correlations exist between paranoid Whites unable to compete and imposition of prejudicial controls for restricting Blacks.
There have been frantic damage control meetings recently in the University Communications (public relations) office at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). City hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and Civic Center managers have been similarly distressed about community image hemorrhaging. Increasing threats of intrusive Twin Cities’ scrutiny by anti-racist organizations, grinning liberal lawyers, investigative news sources, and parents of college-bound Black students have created a siege mentality in “White Cloud.”
No other community (campus/city) in state history has been so frequently condemned, exposed, humiliated, ridiculed and successfully sued for its racism. Despite a plethora of groups claiming to address racism since 1968 (e.g., B-SURE, NAACP, SCSU Color Caucus, CAAS, SCAR, GRIP, Stride Toward Unity, Ministerial Alliance, Create CommUNITY, CARD, SASSO, Strategic Planning Commission, Presidents Advisory Commission, and CARE), St. Cloud racism has yet to be effectively challenged.
Most groups devoted to anti-racism with political muscle tend to be Twin Cities-based. Their full agendas, limited resources, and time constraints defer aggressive interventions when the victims of racism prefer asking, begging, hinting, genuflecting, suggesting and talking about changes rather than aggressively forcing changes.
Excuses for passivity by the victims of St. Cloud racism would disgust most militant Blacks, e.g. (a) “We’re working through the system”; (b) “We don’t have enough facts”; (c) “We’re waiting for a ‘critical mass’”; (d) “We need our jobs”; and the ultimate genuflection, (e) “There’s racism everywhere.”
Retort: (a) If working through the system is so reliable, why do so many system loyalists still complain?
(b) When city hall, local cops and racist Whites always seem to have enough “facts” to justify discriminatory behavior, then claims of too few “facts” become an excuse to “take low” and a synonym for no guts.
(c) The term “critical mass” has been conveniently misconstrued to allow escaping into a distant dream of a Black majority in “White Cloud.” Wake up. Nat Turner, Jack Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Mohammed Ali, Huey Newton, University of Minnesota’s Morrill Hall rebels Horace Huntley and Rose Mary Freeman, and Don Carlos Jackson/Diop Kamau were critical masses [i.e. “The smallest mass of a fissionable material that will sustain a (nuclear) chain reaction”].
(d) Selma’s Black high school teachers (who walked off their jobs in support of jailed students) needed their jobs; thousands of southern Blacks daring to vote needed their jobs; and Bunnatine Greenhouse (the Black whistleblower for Halliburton’s no-bid contracts) also needed her job.
(e) True, there’s racism everywhere, but frequent maltreatment of Black kids in St. Cloud schools should prompt get-tough tactics in “White Cloud.”
If Blacks could replace St. Cloud’s mayor, city council members (priding themselves on representing a community where racism is still carefully nurtured), or the Chamber of Commerce director, what would you do to rescue “White Cloud’s” thoroughly trashed image?
As SCSU’s president, how would you react to city hall’s calculated racial intransigence and diversionary tactics? Would you lure (“recruit”) Black students into a known hostile environment? Would you continue replacing critical domestic Black students with passive foreign Asian students offered “scholarships” and “community support packages” financed by your state taxes?
If you were Black in St. Cloud, could you summon the courage to defy conditions and force improvements?
When conditions of White domination appear challenged, there are always contingency plans, if only based on bluffs [i.e., “In my opinion, this mindset will only lead to failure for the Black community. Seriously, I can not visualize the Black community effecting all the needed changes all on its own.” (Mike Landy for St. Cloud Mayor Larry Meyer, sent to the Council On Black Minnesotans June 23, 1998).
It would be conniving, cowardly and disingenuous to call Big Brother (the Council on Black Minnesotans) for help, then again fail to follow through with defiance, determination, organization, and 1960s-type Black solidarity once council members depart. Such capitulation is precisely what city hall, SCSU administration, and racist area residents want.
“We don’t need conscientious objectors. Everybody must enlist.” (Martin Luther King) All those claims of supposed involvement with “The Movement” during the 1960s can finally become reality in St. Cloud on October 9, 2007.
The Minnesota Council on Black Minnesotans is scheduled to meet in St. Cloud on October 9 to inquire into the state of race relations there. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder will report to its readers on the meeting.
Myrle Cooper is retired from SCSU but continues to closely monitor racism and expose a community resisting change. He welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.