In the wake of the racist mass shooting carried out in Buffalo, New York, over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about the tantrum Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas threw during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings in March.
Specifically, I’ve thought about the bizarre point at which Cruz railed against Ibram X. Kendi’s book “Antiracist Baby,” alleging the book — which had nothing to do with Jackson — unfairly demonized white babies as racist. This was a deliberately dim summary of a book meant to discourage racist views at a young age.
As a country, we should be holding congressional hearings about white parenthood and young white men’s susceptibility to extremist violence.
But white children deserve a more promising, less stupid future than the ones conservatives like Cruz are looking to give them. And 10 people killed, allegedly by an 18-year-old white nationalist who believes in the deluded “great replacement theory,” is all the evidence one needs to prove white people shouldn't spurn methods that might make them more effective parents in a world rife with racism.
And, in fact, the spike in sales of “Antiracist Baby” following Cruz’ diatribe seems to indicate that there is an appetite for antiracist teachings among some white parents — not just because they will make the world better, but because they will make their children better, too. White parents who share this belief need to be more vocal in denouncing the massacre in Buffalo, and highlighting its relationship to the current crises afflicting white parents and kids.
To be clear: By “crises,” I’m referring to the obsession some parents have shown with censoring history about racial inequality, along with the inability of some white people to deter their children from embracing white nationalist views. Both are obstacles to living happily and peacefully in a multiracial democracy.
As a country, we should be holding congressional hearings about white parenthood and young white men’s susceptibility to extremist violence. We should be commissioning studies and hosting symposiums on the inheritance of white racism, not unlike the ways the U.S. government has sought to diagnose maladies in Black culture and Black families in the past.
Testifying before Congress last September, FBI Director Christopher Wray said white supremacists make up “the biggest chunk of our domestic terrorism portfolio overall” and “have been responsible for the most lethal attacks over the last decade.” Many of those terrorist attacks — like the Buffalo massacre — were committed by young, white men.
Racist lies are taking root in white households across the country.
Wray’s testimony followed the release of a violent extremism report by the director of national intelligence that found “biases against minority populations and perceived government overreach" will undoubtedly continue to drive domestic violent extremists' "radicalization and mobilization to violence.”
That’s a perfect description of the Buffalo massacre, which appears to have been motivated by the shooter’s antisemitic view that Jews are plotting to replace white Americans with nonwhite people for political gain. The shooter was charged Saturday with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty.
Racist lies are taking root in white households across the country. White parents who still have the wherewithal and desire to deny them need to speak up — not simply for the country’s sake but for the sake of their children’s mental and physical well-being.