A Gift From A Community Grandmother

DISCLAIMER: The following has brief mentions about racism, homophobia, transphobia, mental & emotional illness, and abuse.

Upon leaving the Wentzville School Board meeting of Aug. 18 in protestation of a racist tirade from a board member, a brief piece of paper was placed into my hands by an elderly woman. At first, I paid it very little mind, as I, and a few others, were attempting to leave the meeting as swiftly as possible. Moments passing, and words exchanged between my friends and I, before I glanced down and witnessed three letters that will strike fear into most anyone educated in them.

C. R. T.

Critical Race Theory.

I paused midstep, my heart rate elevating as I observed the slip more carefully. Words that jumped out to me were “Big Tech,” “Marxist,” “propaganda,” “transgender issue,” and “the leftist agenda.” In the interest of transparency, in all my years of being way left of center, I had never seen such vitriolic hate seethe off a piece of paper only two paragraphs long. For a brief number of moments, while I was dead in my tracks, I’d hoped that somehow I had misinterpreted the brief words. But, as Frank Herbert noted, “Hope clouds observation.”

Turning to my friends who had seen my eyes widening, I said, flabbergasted, “Come and read this.” They seemed to go through the same manner of emotions that I myself went through. One after another became quietly, then loudly and overtly disgusted with the woman who mere moments ago seemed like any other elderly grandmother, paying attention to local goings-on.

I said to my friends, quoting the newest piece of our attention amid bouts of inane laughter, “To get an understanding of why parents are against Critical Race Theory being taught in public education, do a search on YouTube for ‘school board parents against CRT.’ There are hundreds of sights that come up.” Pausing to catch my breath, and to gauge my fellows’ disbelief at what I was reading, I then continued, “If not, it means Big Tech has censored your browser. The essence of this theory is basically Marxist doctrine…” It was then I had lost myself to the laughter of absurdity.

Later on, on the car ride to retrieve my sustenance for the evening, I spoke at length with my ride on how not only did this grandmother manage to fit racism into her handout, but she also managed to be homophobic and transphobic as well. Quoting from the “literature” again, I relayed “If a boy says he is a girl and wants to use the girl’s locker rooms, bathrooms, etc.,” before pausing, seeing the growing and knowing smile on their face. I continued, “he is either lying to spy on naked girls or is suffering from mental/emotional illness resulting from parent neglect/abuse.” My ride and I, both being queer and outside of the gender binary shook our heads. 

Even later, I read that “Any school district employee or board member that encourages this perverted thinking in children should be considered promoting child abuse and should be fired if not prosecuted for criminal behavior against a minor.” This sentence, being so short, yet so very, very wrong left me quite drained. Not to get into that detailed of an explanation, but transgender and gender non-conforming people exist, and trans rights are human rights.

It is very possible that I could go on at length about how much laughter and discussion we had about the utter nonsense printed out, which now lives on my refrigerator, or how the news reporter we showed it to could not believe her seasoned eyes as well. However, were I to do so, an entire college dissertation would be laid out before my eyes.

Instead, I know it would be in vain, as the woman who gave my friends and me such entertainment, along with many others like her, were only parroting points they had heard, and done little to no reputable research for themselves. That very idea and sad reality reminds me of a quote from T. S. Elliot from his introduction to Pascal’s Penées, which I shall leave you with.

“The majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion,

and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith;

and when the ordinary man calls himself a skeptic or an unbeliever,

that is ordinarily a simple pose,

cloaking a disinclination to think anything out to a conclusion.”