by Jack Davis
A bill mandating ethnic studies in Minnesota schools, would teach “hopelessness to kids of color,” a black mother of three children said in riveting testimony on Tuesday.
The bill requires not only an ethnic studies curriculum, but requires the state’s elections commission to “embed ethnic studies into state academic standards.”
“Ethnic studies analyzes the ways in which race and racism have been and continue to be powerful social, cultural, and political forces, and the connection of race to the stratification of other groups, including stratification based on gender, class, sexuality, religion, and legal status,” the bill said.
Nonsense, testified Kofi Montzka, a mother to three boys who is also a lawyer.
“You might ask: why in the world would a black person speak against ethnic studies? Because not everything that sounds good is good,” she said in testimony that has gone viral on Twitter.
“The bill tells kids of color that they are stuck in a caste system based on their race,” she added.
“I’m sick of everyone denying the enormous progress we’ve made in this country acting like it’s 1930,” Montzka said. “We used to have a race-based system. We got rid of it and now you’re all trying to bring it back.”
“This curriculum will not help kids succeed All it does is remove any reason to try. And I repeat that – remove any reason to try,” she said.
Montzka said she was bringing legislators a message from the real world.
“This is not some theoretical crap. This stuff happens. These messages are very harmful,” she told them, referencing an episode in a high school class in which a teacher said racism would prevent black males in the class from living long enough to retire.
“If this law is passed, teaching this hopelessness to kids of color will be mandated starting in kindergarten,” she said.
Black legislators supporting the bill were called out harshly.
“And I can see why you white proponents of this bill might support this. It’s not your kids being told that they can’t succeed and you get to shed some of your white guilt in the process,” she said.
“But you legislators of color, how can you? You made it despite the invisible boogeyman of systemic racism. You were voted in by a majority of white people. You hold some of the most powerful positions in this state. But you want to tell my kids and other kids of color that they can’t succeed? It’s shameful. It’s terrible,” she said.
Ethnic studies as framed by the bill “divides and stereotypes by race,” Minnesota resident Hillary Swanson said, according to Alpha News.
“This doesn’t help kids to tell them that their skin color determines their outcomes in today’s society. No one is better than me because of the color of my skin. I am what it means to be black in America. I’ve been black my whole life and I will not allow anyone to tell me that they have privilege over me because of my skin,” she said.
In 2021, Montzka also spoke out against teaching critical race theory in schools.
“Critical race theory is racist,” Montzka said then, according to the Washington Times.
“There are individuals who are racist, there’s no doubt about that, but this critical race theory is terrible in and of itself,” she said.
She added that she disliked hearing it implied “that other black people aren’t like you. The challenges I had made me have the motivation: I wanted money and a family that stays together.”