As a result of its racism, St. Cloud (“White Cloud”) has been invaded by civil rights groups, federal investigators and unsympathetic outside news reporters. In a community where racism has always been its most abundant natural resource, psychological salvation and sociopathic glue, meaningful changes must be forced from outside?
Despite “White Cloud’s” perpetual status as a cultural, economic, political and social ragamuffin, White children are burdened and propagandized by their parents’ personal and racial insecurities. Instead of aggressively attacking racism for community health, if not economic improvement, ethics, legality and logic, “White Cloud’s” parents and school teachers retaliate against federally imposed demands through diversionary tactics, White flight.
Many of St. Cloud’s White parents are “overwhelmingly” transferring their children to neighboring schools in Sauk Rapids-Rice, Annandale, Rocori, Becker and Sartell-St. Stephen.” (“Editorial: Enrollment study fuels questions; Albert Lea Tribune.com, January 25, 2013)
Twenty teachers unable or unwilling to provide instructionally effective, efficient and safe learning environments for Blacks and other children of color, surrendered to racism by quitting. Racism is the reason for the sudden teacher exodus. Extended workday for academic improvement and counseling is their excuse. (“one in four teachers leaving Talahi, Madison and Discovery;” St. Cloud Times, May 21, 2015).
Based on student performance, Talahi Elementary School is “one of 44 Minnesota schools considered priority, while another 87 are focus schools.” Priority means significant underperformance academically. Focus elementary schools, Madison and Discovery perform at slightly higher levels. Innocent, trusting and vulnerable children of color are being sacrificed to preserve “White Cloud’s” historically nurtured racism.
Since Blacks won’t be chased out of town as they were during “White Cloud’s” proud no-Blacks-allowed or “sun down town” days, White flight might evoke sympathy for racism. White flight was popular for evading school integration after the Brown vs. Board of Education-Topeka Supreme Court decision (1954).
After 25 courageous Somali high school girls toppled “White Cloud’s” racist school district administrative clique (2010), a Black superintendent was logically hired. Despite outstanding credentials and experience, unfortunately he represents damage control efforts and public relations panic rather than community ethics.
No wonder City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and area economic development groups can’t sell “White Cloud” to airlines, business/industry start-ups, convention planners, movie producers or preseason training camps for the Minnesota Vikings.
What next? First, city leaders, particularly politicians, wish they could simply recapture “White Cloud’s” good ol’ days of illegal Black slaves or no Blacks at all. Second, since Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) exemplifies “White Cloud,” the wish is impossible. Third, the mere thought of trying to make “White Cloud” an example of racial harmony causes delirium tremens in City Hall and among local racists.
However, predictably racist “White Cloud” devotees have four options: (1) emulate Minnesota’s more constructive, efficient, laudable integration models and survive dreaded Black influx as in Worthington and Mankato; (2) deny or limit social services to immigrant Blacks and unwanted others like Duluth and Owatonna; (3) shock the “best cities” livability ranking groups, civil rights interventionists, federal investigators and hostile news reporters by making “White Cloud” an award-winning model for innovative racial integration; or (4) continue trying to replace complaining Blacks with Asians less likely to complain.
St. Cloud State University added nine percent foreign students, but only 2.3 percent students of color. With only five percent Black students enrolled, according to Forbes, compensation for past racism via more Black students was refused. Frantically recruiting foreign students from China, India, Nepal, Kazakhstan and Italy, implies local leaders are pursuing option four.
Myrle Cooper is a retired faculty member at St. Cloud State University.