On Feb. 8, members of the Seattle Student Union and the Seattle Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators gathered at the John Stanford Center during a Seattle Public School Board meeting advocating Black Lives Matter at School demands that include the implementation of restorative justice and ending zero-tolerance discipline, the hiring of more Black teachers, the requirement of both Black history/ethnic studies curriculum for K–12, and funding additional counselors while permanently banning police in schools.
by the National Liberated Ethnic Studies Coalition
CRT and Ethnic Studies: What’s Really Being Banned?
In a panicked reaction to the inclusion of ethnic studies, Black Lives Matter, and other anti-racist curricula in our schools, 28 states are actively opposing social justice content. A recent tweet sent out by conservative “think tank” Texas Public Policy Foundation claimed that terms such as “diversity,” “inclusion,” “restorative justice,” and “identity” were all Trojan horse terms for critical race theory (CRT).
Popular education news organization Chalkbeat has been tracking this trend. According to its reporting, 28 states have enacted efforts to “restrict education on racism, bias, [and] the contribution of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history or related topics.” The language in anti-CRT rhetoric has many people asking, “What are they really banning?” — and rightly so. The fact that people are getting so whipped up by terms like “identity,” “justice,” and “current events” should be a huge red flag. The “C” in CRT stands for “critical.” It seems like race has little to do with the outrage of opponents of CRT and everything to do with critical thinking.
Local elections don’t just matter: They are a matter of life and death for far too many in our communities.
About a month ago, I learned that my hometown of Newberg, Oregon, became the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. The local school board voted to ban symbols such as Pride flags and signs declaring that “Black Lives Matter,” calling them “political statements’’ and therefore inappropriate for school. What they really did was politicize humanity and, in the name of “neutrality,” help the oppressor.
As someone who also had to navigate predominantly white spaces as a student of color, my heart went out to students who, in that vote, witnessed representatives of the community invalidate their entire existence as a mere “political statement” that didn’t belong in a classroom setting.
The fact that Newberg is my hometown galvanized me to take action. And I am now working with people in Newberg to hold school board members accountable for this, by supporting recall efforts for Brian Shannon, and making the Newberg School District more welcoming and equitable. And while the story of Newberg is deeply personal to me, it is also far from unique. These incidents are happening in schools all around the nation and in our own backyard.
They say we have to learn our history so as not to repeat it. While I do believe the saying to be true, we must think beyond this sentiment in our current age because there’s a lot more to history than what we read in books.
In the past few months, we have seen a massive insurgence from Republican politicians pushing to ban critical race theory from K-12 schools. These pundits and conservative Republicans describe critical race theory as anti-American rhetoric, racist and abusive, and teaching their children to hate their skin color; all of which are not true. In fact, critical race theory (CRT) is not even taught in K–12 schooling and there is a large misunderstanding of what it actually is: a tool in upper academia, specifically in law school, used to analyze the U.S. legal system and its intersection with racial oppression. Instead, the term has been used to represent the idea of anti-racism being taught to students and the seemingly more rage-inducing topic of teaching a true, non-whitewashed portrayal of this country’s history.
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
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Morning Update Show — Thursday, June 24
LIVE — Gusti Clark | Seattle Mayoral Candidates & Reparations | Taking B(l)ack Pride Update | Critical Race Theory
An enthusiastic crowd of teachers, parents, current Seattle Public Schools board members, and candidates for the school board gathered at Medgar Evers Pool at Garfield High School on Saturday, June 12, to show solidarity protesting the passage of bills in several states banning the teaching of critical race theory.
The debate over restricting teachers from including the history of white supremacy or incorporating ethnic studies in the curriculum is nothing new. Those who support banning it see critical race theory as racist, unconstitutional, and designed to make white people feel guilty. In fact, critical race theory examines how racism is intersected and maintained in public institutions. As many speakers at the rally made clear, the goal of critical race theory isn’t to pit individuals against one another, despite what so many politicians and media have twisted it to become.