Letter: Event in Alexandria sent wrong message about racism

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

To the editor:

On June 15, I attended the “Raise Our Standards Tour” event held at the Holiday Inn in Alexandria. The event was sponsored by the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) located in Golden Valley. The purpose of the event was to discredit and warn about the dangers of “Critical Race Theory.”

A central accusation made by CAE is that “a cabal of progressives” wants to systematically undermine the education of Minnesota children by talking honestly about race. I was appalled by the obvious and overt refusal of the presenter to acknowledge the history, depth and ongoing nature of racism. Stunning. She appeared to suggest that racism is somehow “back then” and that, now, only personal character matters.

Systemic racism is a thing of the past, she appears to believe. She refused to acknowledge the reality of white privilege. She made no reference to the barriers people of color face every day. CAE refuses to acknowledge that one’s skin color affects their life, their daily experiences. White privilege was all over this presentation.

Carol Anderson, in her book, "White Rage: the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide," documents incredibly thoroughly how, since the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, state governments have systematically, purposefully and methodically undermined black advancement. To this very day such sabotage continues to exist.


Racism is here and very much alive. Refusal to talk about it will not help. Refusal to help our children explore our history and our current status, vis-à-vis race, will not help. When I ask black people about the status of their experiences in west-central Minnesota the response I have heard many times is: “It could not get any worse.” We have work to do and CAE is doing the wrong work!

Jon Koll

Alexandria, MN

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