(NEW YORK) – Teachers are gathering in more than 115 cities this weekend to “teach the truth” to protest anti-racist and anti-criticism legislation on racial theory being proposed across the country.
In Philadelphia, teachers, students and activists gather at George Washington’s home to tell the stories of enslaved people who played a role in the creation of the nation. Specifically, they will discuss the people the first US president kept as slaves.
Nine slaves served him at the Executive Mansion, according to the National Park Service. At the time of his death, Washington enslaved more than 100 people.
In Kansas City, Missouri, protesters will march from Lincoln College Preparatory Academy – one of the first schools for black students – to the Black Archives of Mid-America, a museum that documents the social, economic, political and cultural history of blacks. . Americans.
These lessons, among others, may soon be banned from teaching in classrooms.
“It is really important as educators that we do not allow these bills to put us on the defensive, and instead we take the opportunity to take these steps to highlight the racist path. of our country, of our states, of our cities, which needs to be reckoned with, ”said Adam Sanchez, professor of history in Philadelphia.
Lawmakers in at least 27 states have introduced or implemented legislation that would require teachers to take away lessons about the role of racism, sexism, and oppression in U.S. history.
Many bills, the texts of which are almost identical, state that teachers are prohibited from teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex”, or that ” an individual, by reason of race or gender, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. “
It also prohibits teachers from discussing whether “a meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.” Class discussions are also prohibited from determining whether “America is fundamentally or irreparably racist or sexist.”
The Days of Action, August 27-29, are part of the Teach Truth pledge, which has been signed by more than 6,600 teachers across the country. “We, the undersigned educators, refuse to lie to young people about US history and current events,” states the pledge.
The Day of Action and Teach Truth Pledge are organized by the Zinn Education Project, a collaboration between education advocacy groups Rethinking Schools and Teaching For Change.
“By censoring and restricting what teachers can teach, it is censoring what students are learning and it’s going to change the course of our country,” said Nelva Williamson, history professor in Houston. “We don’t hurt students by teaching them about the history of this country – the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Some teachers have said the vague language of these bills prevents them from teaching history and having truthful conversations with their students about inequality and oppression in America.
“This history and the cultures within history should never be an option to talk about,” said Rozlyn Grady, para-educator in Anchorage, Alaska. “We just want our parents, our teachers not to be afraid to teach what they know to be the truth.… This is what I want all of our teachers to be able to do without fear of retaliation or punishment.”
Critical race theory has been blamed for this recent push by Republican lawmakers. Critical Race Theory is the study of American institutions and how laws and policies help perpetuate racism.
He also analyzes white privilege, the idea that whites have advantages because they are not affected by racial discrimination in the legal system.
This academic discipline, typically used in higher education, has been invoked by lawmakers pushing these bills that limit lessons on oppression, although the vast majority of bills do not mention it in their texts.
Some lawmakers, such as Pennsylvania State Representatives Russ Diamond and Barbara Gleim, who introduced a bill in their state, have said the teachings can be hurtful to children.
“The way in which important concepts such as racial equality and gender equality are taught in our schools could not be more important in defining the type of society we have,” wrote Diamond and Gleim in a legislative memorandum . “Teaching our children that they are inferior or inherently bad on the basis of enduring characteristics such as race and gender can be extremely damaging to their emotional and mental well-being.”
The outcry over critical race theory has turned the spotlight on teachers. Some have been doxxed by anti-racial theory protesters online and others fear punishment for teaching events with racialized stories, according to teachers’ advocacy group Zinn Education Project.
But that won’t stop the teachers and activists who say the legislation erases history and sets back racial progress.
“These nostalgic tales that have become what we call American history are incomplete,” said Cornell Ellis, former teacher and founder of Brothers Liberating Our Communities, a network for black educators. “They call it Critical Race Theory, but we call this accurate and inclusive story in social studies.”
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