Jody Wallace is the mother of two children, one of whom still attends the Williamson County, TN high school. She is an involved parent, who attends school board meetings. At the last one, board member Dan Cash expressed concern about second-grade students being taught about civil rights and women’s suffrage. He thought they were too young.

“My whole problem with the second grade curriculum… is age appropriateness, so to go from civil rights to women’s suffrage… what’s the difference? There’s going to be different things in there that aren’t age appropriate.”  

After calling Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech “one of the greatest speeches ever written”, he added this

“The social studies standards in Tennessee gradually get you into this. It seems like with this ELA program, we’ve taken a lot of nonfictional or fictional history and whatnot, and placed it at a younger age.”

Wallace disagreed with his assessment and sent him a letter explaining why. She laid out her case in detail. Her biggest concern was that kids were taught at an early age to hate people who didn’t fit the white, heteronormative, two-parent family mold. And that therefore they needed to learn while young about the variety of circumstances Americans grow up in.

Cash replied,

Jody. Thank you for sharing what you really have in your heart. You hate white men and white little boys and Christians. I hope I didn’t miss anything.   

Who is this horrible man? Only a small-minded, intellectually stunted pissant thinks that ad hominem attacks strengthen his argument. But apparently, this is the sort of hateful prick that school boards attract. And have been doing so for years. As Mark Twain observed more than a century ago, “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.” 

Cash followed his slur with a “some of my best friends are Black” defense. Followed by the classic “accuse others of what you are guilty” projection. And ending with the “as a white guy, I’m satisfied with how well race relations are going in the US” delusion.

My family has crossed cultural lines for many years. Including Hispanic, Black and family members from Malta. And I must say of all the conversations we have had knowone (sic) has ever demonstrated the amount of hate that I see in this email. I will pray that you look at people as individuals rather than by race and look at the content of their character vs what has happened before. Focus on all the great accomplishments we have had in race relations in our Country.  

What did Wallace say that inspired such hate? Her letter is 800 words long and I have pasted it in full at the end of this diary — but let’s look at some of her key points. She gives a very stark and honest assessment of how girls and minorities do not receive the same treatment as white boys

Let me tell you about being a minority or even just a white girl in the schools here, or probably anywhere in this country. Those kids don’t have a choice but to understand and be exposed things like hate and bullying based on racism and sexism. They don’t get to “just have fun.” They are told, girls can’t do that, girls are dumb, girls can’t be in gifted. They are picked on for being Black or Hispanic. They have LGBTQ slurs shouted at them, yes, even in second grade. They are told to “go back to China” or “Trump is going to deport you.” By other second graders, by older kids, by other kid’s parents, even. Yet these things in second graders get written off as “boys will be boys” or “it’s just kids being kids.” At least, when it’s directed at girls, minorities, and others.

And then she gets to the part which seems to have inspired Cash to put his hate into words. 

You want children to be primarily exposed to happy, uplifting stuff about traditional families, when at least half the kids do not live lives like that, even in THIS wealthy, white county. Shoving it down their throats that the happy white traditional Christian family is the “normal good” way to be is damaging, rather than seeing a large variety of lifestyles as they build their awareness of the world…lifestyles many of them do see in their real lives. We shouldn’t be implying that those ways of existing are “not normal” or “undesirable” or “less than.”  

Cash had the opportunity to address her concerns and explain why his thinking was different. Or he could have brushed her off using classic ‘say something, commit to nothing’ bureaucratese —  “Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns. I will discuss them with the other board members”. But instead, he went full nasty.

Trump knew his audience when he ran in 2016. He didn’t create the angry white American man. He gave the angry white American man permission to be public. To wear his vitriol proudly. To wave his bigotry like a flag. 

Some speculate that conservative white Americans are angry because they are scared that after two and a half centuries of unquestioned dominance, minorities and women are taking a larger piece of the power pie. That they are losing control of the narrative. And that they are even going to lose their majority. Perhaps there is an element of that — but it is not the largest part of the story.

Conservative white Americans have always been scared of ‘the other’. They have always fought to sanitize their history. Their fear and loathing of ‘critical race theory’ and the ‘1619 project’ are just extensions of their revisionist claim that the Civil War (or as they style it, the ‘War of Northern Aggression’) was about states’ rights. And their belief that the white race is genetically intellectually superior to Blacks. And that African-Americans couldn’t play quarterback.

Even when America was unquestionably a white male paradise, these loathsome bigots were just the same. Even as the ink dried on the Declaration of Independence, white protestant America hated Catholics and Jews. Northern European America hated the dark-skinned Mediterranean-Europeans. Then European Americans hated Africans and Asians. And English-speaking America hated the babble of foreign tongues.

LBJ knew full well the nature of white America, As he pithily observed “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” 

Dan Cash is a member of the lowest white man clan. 

(Note: The Diary has been corrected to reflect the fear and anger is of ‘conservative white Americans’. Not ‘white Americans’ in toto.) 


Here is the full text of Jody Wallace’s letter to Dan Cash:

Dear Mr. Cash,

I’m a parent of two students in the Wilco school system who is in your voting district. One has graduated with honors and moved on to college…and she votes now…and one is in high school. I have been watching school board meetings on and off for years, and I did happen to catch last night’s meeting.

I need you to understand something about children and age appropriateness of texts and life issues they might encounter at school. You seem to have very strong objections to children being introduced to things like women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement beyond some minor mention of Dr. King, based on your passionate comments. You said that you don’t think children that age understand such things, that children that age don’t hate, that children that age “just need to have fun.”

Let me tell you about being a minority or even just a white girl in the schools here, or probably anywhere in this country. Those kids don’t have a choice but to understand and be exposed things like hate and bullying based on racism and sexism. They don’t get to “just have fun.” They are told, girls can’t do that, girls are dumb, girls can’t be in gifted. They are picked on for being Black or Hispanic. They have LGBTQ slurs shouted at them, yes, even in second grade. They are told to “go back to China” or “Trump is going to deport you.” By other second graders, by older kids, by other kid’s parents, even. Yet these things in second graders get written off as “boys will be boys” or “it’s just kids being kids.” At least, when it’s directed at girls, minorities, and others.

It’s just strange how upset you are that some presumably white boys have been upset by hypothetical “CRT” that has been pushed on them in a Wilco school in second grade, but you also think that NONE of our kids are ever exposed to the racism, sexism and other bullying any other way because “kids don’t hate.” That the schools are this safe space for them as long as we keep CRT and mention of women’s suffrage out of it.

Kids do hate. Their parents teach them – to hate girls and minorities and anyone differently abled. Their parents may not realize they’re teaching it, but the kids still manage to learn it. And then their friends teach them more, because it’s “kids being kids.”

You want children to be primarily exposed to happy, uplifting stuff about traditional families, when at least half the kids do not live lives like that, even in THIS wealthy, white county. Shoving it down their throats that the happy white traditional Christian family is the “normal good” way to be is damaging, rather than seeing a large variety of lifestyles as they build their awareness of the world…lifestyles many of them do see in their real lives. We shouldn’t be implying that those ways of existing are “not normal” or “undesirable” or “less than.” Seeing a variety of lifestyles ALSO isn’t damaging to kids living a so-called traditional lifestyle as they learn and accept that there are all sorts of ways to be a good human being. It increases empathy and understanding of ALL types of fellow humans when you learn how multifaceted this world is, and that includes things that aren’t so perfect and happy. Things we as a civilization have done wrong and need to do better.

I have sent this email to every member on the school board but addressed it to you because your comments are the ones that inspired me to write it. Second graders are more than capable of understanding that yes, the people in power in this country (white men) used to refuse to let women and Black people vote or have the same rights, and we still continue to have challenges in many of these areas to this day. In fact, the earlier they learn that not all people are “happy traditional white Christian families” and understand that the world is a wonderful and varied place that STILL HAS ISSUES, the less kids will be inclined to bully my girls, or my friend’s Chinese-American children, or my other friend’s Black children, or even my Christian white friend whose boy doesn’t want to play sports but prefers to do “girl” things.

It’s just as damaging for a school to have an “agenda” of mainly espousing, through exposure, the happy white Christian traditional family lifestyle as it is to introduce kids to other equally valid ways of being a human. There is no one right way to be. There is no “normal” and then “everything else.” That is what leads to hate and bullying in second grade AND in adults, and you need to give those second graders a lot more credit than you are.

Jody Wallace

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