Gordon Monson: Donovan Mitchell didn’t have to say anything about the racist Halloween costumes in Utah. It’s our responsibility

Young people in Cedar City dressing as prisoners in blackface is another sorry indication that race education in Utah is lacking, still.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gordon Monson.

A lot of people around here have been greatly troubled by the young individuals in Cedar City who dressed as prisoners in blackface for Halloween alongside one other young person dressed as a police officer.

But not enough.

It’ll never be enough.

Consider this one more call to action.

Ignorance and racism in Utah lives on in dark corners, and some corners that aren’t so dark. Like under the bright lights over the aisles of a Walmart store in Cedar. And the disdain for and ridicule of Utah from around the country lives on, too.

Why should anyone around here care about what others think of them and this state? Here’s why: Because those others have the might of right on their side.

Racism in all its forms should not be tolerated. In a civil society, it must be rooted out.

Clear-thinking people inside and out of Utah know this.

It’s like saying water is wet and the sky is blue.

Some, though, think it’s dry and green.

On Twitter, someone tweeted at former Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell, “I see why you wanted outta Utah.” Mitchell, who spent much time and energy while living here fighting for racial justice and attempting to enlighten the unenlightened, liked the tweet.

He didn’t comment on the matter.

He didn’t have to.

For years, he’d been one of the most highly visible and outspoken advocates for change in Utah. Now, in a single click, silence could speak volumes.

How does that make Utahns feel about the place they call home?

Some of another ilk lashed out at Mitchell a couple of years back, exhorting him to focus only on basketball, not on anything else. That, of course, demonstrated not just ignorance, but closed-mindedness in regard to finding more understanding and more solutions pertaining to racial/racist issues.

The video of those young people yukking it up, seeing no problem with themselves dressing as idiots or racists or idiotic racists is more evidence that Utah has miles — a thousand of them — to go before racism can be fully exorcised. The response of some adults rationalizing that behavior as little more than the shenanigans and antics of youth exhibits additional evidence.

We get it. Racism will never be fully extinguished.

But for young people to feel as though it’s acceptable — clever and humorous even — to express themselves in such a manner shows the level of ignorance still present here. Same for those who excuse it, who can’t see it for what it is.

If those kids had any clue about the message they were not just sending by parading around in public that way, but also the thoughts they were allowing to rot inside their minds en route, shame on them. If they did not have a clue about any of that, they are in deep need of education.

Who’s going to teach them, and others like them, about race and racism in this country? Who’s going to be allowed to teach them about those important issues without putting themselves or their teaching careers in danger by doing so?

Politicians who condemn this sort of racism are often the same ones complaining about and throwing roadblocks up against critical race theory being taught in schools. If kids can’t learn from history in a classroom setting about the tragedies of the past and thereby the importance of preventing more tragedies from happening in the present and the future, where will they learn it?

Some parents, too often, are not up to the task. They never learned these lessons, with similar thoughts rotting in their own minds since they were brought up missing the same understanding that is lacking today.

This stuff — I wanted to use a different word here — continues to be passed down from generation to generation, unchecked by the only real hope to eradicate racism here, there, everywhere, and that’s … is there an echo in here? … education.

Answer the question, then: How else will it be put to a stop?

I’ve interviewed at length many experts on the topic, people who have spent their professional lives studying combinations of child development, racism, its corrosive transmission and adverse effects on youngsters, starting at the earliest of ages, and they agree on the answer.

Hear it again: Ed-u-ca-tion.

If CRT cannot be taught in schools and if parents, too many of them, are ill-equipped in mind and attitude to help their children learn, how’s it going to happen?

Through political leaders? Through religious leaders? Through television and film and music? Through the media? Good luck with that.

Racism and ignorance about it have been transmitted from generation to generation for hundreds of years. What’s going to put an end to it? Not even that, what’s going to damn it and slow it to a trickle?

Is it impossible?

The answer comes by way of those who already understand the significance of racial justice.

Not Mitchell. He’s spoken out enough. It’s not his responsibility to educate anyone.

It’s on people like you, me, all of us. We must speak up whenever and wherever we can, in the workplace, in social settings, at church, at school, in homes, in public and private places. Everywhere.

Those who complain when they see a Black Lives Matter sign, even when it blows past the tired argument that the original organization was founded under the influence of Marxism, insisting that no, no, no all lives matter, need to remind themselves of the track record here. History in the United States has not been kind or anywhere near equal when it comes to matters of race and the humans affected by those matters.

An inclination to ignore that history — or to diminish or deny its lasting effects — with too much of it yet being perpetrated in the present, to defensively and automatically reach for all lives mattering, turning a blind eye to what’s so often been real in Utah and in 49 other states, continues to block progress.

Of course all lives matter, but all lives haven’t been thrown into slavery, bought and sold and owned, haven’t been discriminated against since the founding of our free country. The message here isn’t for white people to feel guilty about what’s happened in the past, it’s for them to recognize it, and to do something about it, making sure that it is rooted out now, in the time in which we live.

Maybe you wouldn’t expect that to be controversial, particularly not among folks who fancy themselves to be leaders of our communities. But maybe you would. Understanding that and acknowledging it, rooting that out, is worthwhile, too.

Those young people in Cedar City, what they represented at Halloween, might not represent a majority of Utahns. If they do, our society is truly messed up. If they don’t, then those who know better must press forward with a more determined stance, doing everything within their — our — reach to teach young and old that what passed as acceptable in the past is no longer acceptable now. It’s not tolerable. It’s not funny. It’s not to be ignored or passed off as no big deal.

It is offensive and objectionable, disturbing and depraved.

Enlightened or not, It always has been and it always will be.