Sioux City Human Rights Leader Says New Iowa Law Comes From a "Place of White Privilege"

Jun 9, 2021

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A new law going into effect in Iowa on July 1st is problematic for Sioux City’s top human rights official. Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer has more.

On Tuesday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new law banning teaching about white privilege and racial equity in public schools, colleges, and universities. The measure also applies to training for state agencies.

The Director of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission, Karen Mackey, says the measure is short-sided and comes from a place of white privilege. 

Credit Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

“As a person of color, I know much more about the white American culture that we have here than they know about Native American culture or Black culture or the Latinx culture here. As a person of color, we have to know how to get along with the dominant society.”

Mackey says there is a lot of misunderstanding about race and ethnic minorities, and even different subcultures within the dominant society.

“Anytime we are having that discussion, it is good. It can be very painful to Caucasian people. But, I fear this law will make it harder for people to have those real discussions.”

The new law does not ban teaching about slavery, racial oppression, and law surrounding segregation and discrimination.

Democrats in the Iowa legislative opposed the plan. They say it could impact inclusivity in state government and education.

On Tuesday, June 15th the Sioux City Rights Commission is hosting an event with the Sioux City Police Department and Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office called “Strengthening and Improving Relationships in Our Community”. It runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sioux City Public Museum.