Reject the Bigots and Blacken American History
February is Black History Month. I waited until February 2nd to say something about it because there's a GroundHog Day aspect to this observance, namely all the white people lining up every year to express the sentiment “me, too, I’m a victim.”
On Twitter there are God-knows-how-many posts of a Morgan Freeman 2006 60 Minutes interview purportedly showing him denouncing Black History month. These posts should be Exhibit A in why we need a Black History Month, since what the actor says is taken out of context.
Then there are the clowns who annually take up the cause of White History Month, as if every month wasn’t chock full of white history.
Raise your hand if you know that the militias referred to the Second Amendment to the Constitution came from the slave patrols required by colonial governments during the seventeenth century. I’ll give extra credit if you can draw the historical lines from those militias to the Klu Klux Klan and modern day policing.
If you’ve got five minutes to spare, here’s Amber Ruffin with a deservedly sassy version of how this bit of history worked out.
The really big news about Black History month is that we’ve started down the path to erase its celebration and observation. It’s not because people have accepted that there are good and bad aspects to our national storyline and that we should learn from them.
It’s not because “Black” is no longer a code word used by bigots to gin up fear.
Far-right elected officials across our country are attempting to whitewash history and ban Black history from being taught in our classrooms.
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis is presently leading the pack of racism deniers, having blocked state colleges from having programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory.
Via the Associated Press:
So far, at least 25 states have considered legislation or other steps to limit how race and racism can be taught, according to an analysis from Education Week. Eight states, all Republican-led, have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts through laws or administrative actions. The bans largely address what can be taught inside the classroom.
Also verboten in the Sunshine State are Advanced Placement history classes on African American studies. The courses presented in states other than Florida will now feature a watered down version of the curriculum.
Whether it’s true or not (the College Board denies this), last week a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed on Twitter that the College Board “will be revising the course for the entire nation” due to the governor’s “principled stand for education over identity politics.”
Via Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times:
Disgustingly, the College Board released the final curriculum on the first day of Black History Month, as though trawling for praise for its unflinching devotion to truth. The board took pains to deny that the alterations in the draft curriculum had anything to do with criticism from DeSantis, the National Review or the right wing generally.
“No states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it,” the board said. “This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.”
Raise your hand if you believe the College Board. Me neither.
Gone from the course materials are references to the Black Lives Matter Movement, authors like Alice Waters, Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Ta-Nehisi Coates, mentions of intersectionality and LGBTQ topics.
Republicans in the House of Representatives chose to celebrate Black History month by eliminating the Oversight and Accountability Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which focused on issues like voting rights, criminal justice reform, civil liberties, and other important issues.
Committee Republicans are not abdicating all their responsibilities, since they are looking into Twitter banning the nonconsensual posting of intimate pictures of Hunter Biden.
And then we come to the beating death of Tyre Nichols, which was gross enough to rip the band aid off of America’s racism wound.
Here’s Charles Blow in the New York Times, reacting after watching the video of the senseless brutality:
It was horrific, as promised, but unfortunately not singularly so. It was instead yet another data point in a long line of videos showing the torturing of Black bodies by the police. It was more snuff porn with Black victims, in a country becoming desensitized to the violence because of its sheer volume.
America — and the world — had the realization that police violence was a problem, and then it simply walked away before the work was done and the war was won.
After the killing of George Floyd in 2020 and the historic summer of protest that followed, police killings of American citizens didn’t decrease; they increased. What fell away were the evanescent allies, poll-chasing politicians and cooped-up Covid kids who had used the protests as an opportunity to congregate.
The most diverse generation of students in our country are increasingly facing a censored, white-washed, book-banned education.
Democracy dies in the dark, it also dies in ignorance. Equality dies in denial. Debate dies with lies. I fear the thought of a country once again re-shaped by these racists. We can no longer condemn the opposition to Critical Race Theory by saying it’s not taught in pre-college schools; we have to say these attempts at bans are in fact proof of CRT’s validity.
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