Fight to stop teaching U.S. Race History is not over
By Cash Michaels
Last year, when Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the passage of House Bill 324 - what some called the anti-critical race theory bill - many thought, Republican attempts to stop teachers from teaching the truth about systemic racism in American history were defeated.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Black Guilford County Republican, opined then that the bill “…was the first step in combating Critical Race Theory [CRT] being forced upon our children in NC public schools.” And Republican legislative leaders blasted Cooper for stopping a law they say would have prohibited teachers from “…promoting the belief that the United States was founded by members of a particular race or sex to oppress people of another race or sex.”
If Gov. Cooper remains in office, there’s little chance that any similar bill will be made law here in North Carolina. But Cooper leaves office in 2024 after two terms, and anyone who has been paying attention knows that Lt. Gov. Robinson is eager to take his place.
In fact, Robinson has said that he is “95 percent” sure that he will be running to succeed Cooper. And if that happens, and Republicans continue their streak of remaining in power in the state legislature through 2024, which they have done since 2011, then what is to stop so-called anti-Critical Race Theory legislation or worse, from becoming law in North Carolina?
For that answer, look no further than 600 miles to the south, and the state of Florida.
Just within the past week, jaw-dropping stories of legislative and administrative restrictions on the teaching of anything that even remotely smacks of CRT have been coming out of the “Sunshine” state.
Last Friday, CNN reported that the Florida Department of Education banned more than 50 of 132 mathematics textbook submissions - 41% - for addition to the state’s approved textbook list for use in Florida public schools because, among other things, the books referred to CRT.
Critical Race Theory has been officially banned in Florida public schools since June 2021.
But Florida didn’t stop there.
Last week, the Florida Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 148 that would make it illegal for any discussions in schools or private businesses that could cause “discomfort” to white people.
“An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race,” according to the bill’s text.
That could include banning discussions about slavery in Black barbershops if a white person is present, to what a Black person read about Florida’s racial history in a Black newspaper and discusses at work where white fellow employees are within earshot.
There’s no question that North Carolina Republicans, infamous for previously passing voting rights restrictions that targeted African Americans with “surgical precision” (in the words of a federal court) are closely watching what is being accomplished in Florida and five other states that have banned the teaching of CRT, the 1619 Project or anything else that might make white people, young or old, feel “bad.”
“Republican attacks on CRT are a placeholder for what they really detest — what they consider the inordinate focus on racial issues such as Black Lives Matter,” wrote Bob Kustra last Sunday in the Idaho Statesman. “Or they fear there is a plan — replacement theory as they call it — to “replace them” with people of color. Brandishing CRT enables them to silence classroom discussions of racism, social justice, and the history of race, without having to acknowledge that is their goal. CRT becomes the bogeyman to get it done.”