In a unanimous vote on Monday, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners decided to cancel Benjamin Franklin and “remove” his name from a large public park in the center of the Washington city.
We put the word “remove” in quotation marks because, technically, the city won’t actually have to change a thing. They are renaming the park to honor the state’s first African American state senator, Rosa Franklin, so the park’s name will not actually change. Not only is this another example of the lamentable cancel culture and historical erasure that has gripped America, it’s also one of the laziest ones we can remember.
“I really believe that it means a lot to people — and to kids — to see people who look like them represented in the names of parks and schools and other facilities,” said Metro Parks board commissioner Aaron Pointer. “It gives people inspiration. To some, it might not mean a lot. But to others, it can mean a sense of belonging, and that the city recognizes that our people are a part of the city, and not just something that is disregarded.”
One, we’re getting really tired of the “see people who look like them” trope. We’re all human beings, are we not? By that measure, black kids look nearly as much like Benjamin Franklin as they do Rosa Franklin. Indeed, black boys are probably closer in appearance to ol’ Ben than they are Rosa. So let’s just dispense with this phony idea of “representation,” because it makes it seem like we’re all completely different races instead of just different skin colors.
Two, let’s talk about “inspiration,” shall we? Benjamin Franklin’s accomplishments include inventing the lightning rod, inventing bifocal lenses, helping to draft the Declaration of Independence, serving as the first U.S. Postmaster General, and founding the University of Pennsylvania (to name just a few).
Rosa Franklin, on the other hand, served for seven years in the Washington State Senate and…hmm…stayed married for 62 years. That’s not nothing, but there’s a reason why, when told that Tacoma would be renaming the park in her honor, the first thing she said was, “Are you sure?”
Nonetheless, Metro Parks Board Commissioner Jessie Baines said it was time to stop honoring people like Franklin. According to the News Tribune, Baines argued “that dead white men are constantly put on a pedestal in this country, despite blemishes or missteps, while people of color have rarely received similar recognition.”
Welp. Not anymore. Now Tacoma schoolchildren can learn about the time Rosa Franklin…”had three children and five grandchildren”…instead of the time Benjamin Franklin helped father a little country called the United States of America.
Ahhh, isn’t that so much better?