Make this make sense for me: Kids are too young to learncritical race theory and their role in dismantling systems of white supremacy in a country that preaches equality, but not too young to internalize privilege, stereotypes and hate for Black people?
That’s actually a rhetorical question but, that’s the B.S. I’m getting in these social media streets, online education platforms and statehouses. And by the way, no one can make it make sense because it gatdamn doesn’t!
I fell down a dusty rabbit hole of narratives with parents crying about schools trying to make their kids “woke,” then it dawned on me that this isn’t really about critical race theory. It’s resistance to what’s become a politically charged framework being used as a justification for the continued erasure of Blackness and whitewashing of American history in public education.
See, I knew this “Black lives matter” sentiment wasn’t going to last too long—I called it last year when everybody jumped on the bandwagon after another Black person—George Floyd—was lynched in public.
Truth be told, our lives only matter when it comes to sustaining structures of capitalism and white supremacy. They matter when America wants us to stop burning shit down in protest of racism and oppression. They matter when elected officials need our vote. And they matter big time when y’all need our kids in these raggedy-ass schools so teachers can get paid from their per-pupil dollars.
But just look at how lawmakers have shown us the opposite.
Black people came out in droves during the presidential election and because of that, some red states are pushing new voter suppression conversations and laws claiming there was election fraud. Hell, they might as well put their Jim Crow hats on and tell us we have to pass a literacy test to vote, too.
And they’re clearly showing us by, once again, politicizing and condemning quality and unbiased education to protect their privilege and America’s hideous history of racism, murder and inhumanity—despite the fact that this shit plays out in our lives every day.
Now here’s why this is dangerous and pissing me off. Check out the language about the bill in this article in The Hill:
Known as House Bill 377 (HB 377), the pending law would prohibit the teaching of any studies related to critical race theory in Idaho public schools. Under the bill, schools would not be allowed to teach “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.” The law also prohibits teaching that "individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin."
The line that says, “related to critical race theory” was it for me—with emphasis on the word “related”. Y’all, they’re basically banning the teaching of true American history, while also giving themselves the autonomy to throw in whatever else they want to suppress by using that vague ass language!
I believe this rolling ban and criticism of teaching “critical race theory” will become a grander pile of shit in the existing cesspool of policies and practices that are anti-diversity, culture and truth. Bottom line, they’ve politicized and polarized “critical race theory” to keep public education the same—oppressive, biased and basic.
Meanwhile, our kids will continue to sit in schools where there’s no accurate representation of their history or identity, no teachers who look like them, and in company with other students who—through their parents, media or socialized “norms”—think it’s O.K. to judge, look down on or mistreat people that “appear” to be different from them.
The system will continue to teach our kids that slave owners were upstanding gentlemen and patriots that saved uncivilized Africans by bringing them to America and giving them jobs, reinforcing white saviorship and privilege.
And even though they may feel like something ain’t quite right in the way they’re taught and treated in schools, those thoughts will be challenged when Black people like Senator Tim Scott get on T.V. and tell them that America isn’t a racist country.
Black people, these lawmakers are counting on us to just take their word for it and trust that they’re acting in all of our interest. They want us to believe our lives matter in the long run, but I hope we know that their racism and privilege continue to manifest in policies and practices. Their actions say otherwise.
I hope we know that they use scary language like “indoctrination of youth” to befuddle the masses in their crusade to curb truth and representation in education.
I hope our kids are smart enough to question and challenge what they’re being taught. Because if everything’s all good in the hood, equality is real, and race doesn’t matter, then why’d we need a Civil Rights movement in the 60s and a Black Lives Matter movement now?
Finally, I hope we’ll one day remove our kids from this system that hates who they are, who they came from and what they could be. Their self-actualization can be realized and will be embraced in schools built by us, for us—true Freedom Schools.
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...