As Black History Month enters full swing, an ongoing suppression of teaching, acknowledging and repairing racial education and Black history in schools is also in full swing. Many states and isolated school districts have enacted legislation and policies banning the discussion of race, critical race theory– an extremely advanced line of analytical legal framework and historical ethical theory that is infrequently and extremely unlikely to be taught in primary education settings- and Black history and literature, citing parent input and student safety as primary reasons. The redundancy of erasing the painfully necessary instruction and discussion for the “comfort” of white students and administrators has not been lost on many, and legions of supporters of free speech and equitable education alike have spoken out in opposition to such erasure.
A common argument of parents, school boards or high-level governmental advocates for banning the discussion of race in schools is that it will incite division, a wholly misguided premise. In teaching students about the comprehensive, true history and legacy of the country they live in, they will be better prepared to serve it or participate in it as adults. Additionally, shining a light on the previously hidden and suppressed histories of people of color and marginalized groups in the U.S. is the opposite of division: it unites with the power of equitable knowledge.
If we eliminate the discussion, instruction, and illumination of much of the pain and heinous crimes that built the United States, we also erase the histories and futures of students whose ancestry is reflected in those stories.
Whether critical race theory is being taught in primary education environments or not (which it most likely is not), the blanket suppression of any conversations about systemic inequity attempts to rewrite history for the worse. If we eliminate the discussion, instruction, and illumination of much of the pain and heinous crimes that built the United States, we also erase the histories and futures of students whose ancestry is reflected in those stories. Black history, indigenous history, Asian American history, Latin history and much more are all parts of American history and the American present- none of which deserve to be forgotten.
By Leah Ollie, Freshman, Butler University