As part of a backlash against campaigns to emphasize the historical and continuing effect of racism on inequality in American life, U.S. Republican lawmakers are limiting the way race is discussed in schools. public.
Legislatures in more than a dozen states have considered bills that would regulate the way teachers teach about race-related issues in classrooms. Many seek to ban “critical theory of races”, A school of thought that holds that the major institutions of the United States are intrinsically racist and built by nature to perpetuate white supremacy.
Across the country, local school board meetings have been filled with parents expressing their concerns. Fox News, a right-wing television network, has aired segments for weeks warning of critical racing theory.
The debate is part of the U.S. career calculation
The moves come at a time when the United States continues to clash over how to address racial inequalities, more than a year after protests and riots erupted across the country following the massacre of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white police officer.
The calculation has divided Americans on how best to examine the forces of society that lead to race-based inequalities. It has forced Americans to take a critical look at their country that some prefer to avoid.
“We want a good past and a good ancestry. Americans find it hard to put things together in a complex way. I don’t think we’re very good at being able to accept good and evil together as part of our own heritage, ”said Marie Griffith, a professor at the University of Washington and author of Making the World Over: Confronting Racism, Misogyny, and Xenophobia in the history of the United States.
“We can get to know the very difficult and painful parts of our past and do it better without developing our own hatred. Your children will not start hating you and hating all your ancestors simply because they learn this story. It should be an honor to face this story. “
Arkansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma have already passed new laws setting restrictions on the teaching of race-related public schools. Other states consider similar rules.
Republicans: Critical race theory is divisive
Florida Republican Gov. Ron Desantis, who this week signed a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, said the new law would protect children from being taught that they are defined and restricted by race.
“I think it will cause a lot of divisions,” Desantis said. “I think it will make people think more of themselves as a member of a certain race based on skin color, rather than based on the content of their character and based on their hard work and that he tries to achieve in life “.
The Florida education system exists to create opportunities for our children. Critical race theory teaches children to hate our country and to hate each other. It is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools. pic.twitter.com/ludv7ARgNP
– Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 10, 2021
Tennessee law, which comes into force on July 1, prohibits instructors from teaching that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. “
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said it was important for schools to emphasize “American exceptionality” rather than dwelling on issues that “inherently divide.”
New laws raise alarming questions about academic freedom and the power of state governments to restrict difficult but important conversations about race, said Adrienne Dixson, a University of Illinois professor who specializes in the intersection of race. and education.
“It is unfortunate that politicians want to literally limit what we can know, what we can think and what we can talk about. That’s worrying, “Dixson told Al Jazeera.” It has to be scary for everyone, no matter what you think about race. “
The main question that divides the two sides depends on whether racism is thought to be a symptom of individual bad actors or an inherent flaw embedded in American systems of government, business, and education.
Jonathan Butcher, an academic policy scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argues that critical race theory would perpetuate discriminatory attitudes rather than reduce them.
“It’s very different to say that these are individual acts that we condemn and to say that the U.S. government or public institutions are intrinsically racist,” Butcher told Al Jazeera.
“It robs children of the opportunity to understand that this American promise of opportunities for everyone, regardless of their skin color and equality according to the law, is at their disposal.”
Dixson, however, said that the critical theory of races simply explores a true part of American life that has existed for a long time.
“It is not a story that they are inventing the critical theory of races or people of color. This is a documented story. We know that in fact. We are counting on this story and we are making sure that we do not reproduce it, ”said Dixson.
“Racism should not be an open act in which someone uses racial epithets or there are explicit policies to restrict people of color. But perhaps it could be included in our politics in ways we are unaware of because we have internalized certain rhetoric or beliefs about who deserves and who doesn’t. “