By Lafe Tolliver
If you have been following the latest buzz about certain communities and now certain legislatures attempting to pass laws, yes…laws that would immunize or inoculate white students from the visceral and intellectual challenges of learning about their true American History and its effects on American culture since 1619.
No, I am not talking about any grade schools or high schools teaching about critical race theory since it is not taught in those complaining school districts that are in nigh histrionics about their precious Johnny or Suzy being exposed to the full panorama of America’s troubled racial and racist past.
I am referring to the latest in the cultural wars in which some white parents are demanding that their school curriculum not contain any information that could tangentially be related to their kids being uncomfortable or feeling any guilt or shame or experiencing bad feelings about what happened in America when slavery was the engine that made America great and a world power.
Imagine if you can, some white kids going to school and having to sit through listening about George Washington Carver, A. Phillip Randolph, Malcolm X or Fannie Lou Hamer or the travails of a Rosa Parks or the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or learning about entrenched
and systematic racism in housing, bank lending policies, disparate medical care, employment, military service and a host of other endeavors.
Imagine that poor white child sitting in a classroom having to learn about the history of America, a history thoroughly ingrained with slavery and slave uprisings, massacres, lynchings; and both factual and legal segregation that are still in existence.
Why, they would be scarred for life! They would need anti-depressants and hours on a psych couch trying to “un-ring” the bell that they just heard in a history class or a political science class.
Imagine the shame and guilt they could feel when they learn that their forebears and the US government sanctioned and encouraged such disparate treatment and yet at the same time this budding snowflake listens to glorious 4th of July speeches extolling the freedoms of America but not freedoms for people of color or the indigenous Native Americans.
These are the historical injuries and slights that the white parents want their kids to avoid being exposed to because it raises questions those parents cannot or will not answer because those same parents or grandparents closed their eyes and stopped up their ears when they had a chance to make a difference but did not do so.
So, to avoid unpleasant conversations at the dinner table or at a church meeting, you simply pass a law that allows an aggrieved child and his parent to sue that teacher or school district for such an infliction of emotional trauma upon their poor snowflake, son or daughter.
And to seal the deal, you also demand that the school libraries purge their bookshelves of
any reading material that some irate parent deems objectionable to their child because the reading of say, To Kill A Mockingbird or I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings or Stamped From the Beginning would cause them shame, guilt or remorse.
Yeah, a real study of history can be brutal. Try reading Michelle Alexander’s, The Second Jim Crow or the Sum Of Us by Heather McGee and see if you do not put the book down, now and then, to gather your breath or contemplate what you just read.
Seemingly, some white parents would rather send their snowflakes out into a multi-cultural and diverse ethnic society as clueless as a box of day-old rocks than have them exposed to literature that educates and informs them of American History from a perspective different than boy George Washington chopping down a cherry tree!
But you know what is even a more glaring problem or concern that white society does not wish to acknowledge and that is, what about the Black child in a school system, white or black,
that intentionally dismisses or butchers their history as being incidental or of no value or importance?
How many Black kids grew up going to a white school in which you almost “cringed” during Black History Month because you knew that you were about to get a few obligatory paragraphs about George Washington Carver or Crispus Attucks or Benjamin Banneker and that was it! Oh, they would throw in for good measure a sideswipe at “those” African countries in which they claimed the people lived in mud huts and wore bones through their noses.
But, there was no outcry from white parents about such gibberish nor any concern about Black kids feeling, shame, guilt, embarrassment or mental anguish when they had to sit through such classes and feel the white kids looking at them or snickering at them for having
Such blatant historical shortcomings in teaching Black History and the effects of slavery on generations of Black kids raised in America did not cause white parents to storm their local school board or libraries demanding fairness and accuracy in historical reporting to benefit Black kids.
So, Black kids suffered for hundreds of years learning under the biting yoke of corrupted historical texts about themselves in America and the history of Africa. That was okay with white society because Black lives did not matter and, more so, in not teaching their white kids the full truths of American History.
The hypocrisy of certain parents to moan to school boards about their Johnny or Suzy being required to sit in a classroom to learn about racial oppression or reading books that challenge them to take an account of what happened in the formations of this country via the capitalistic engine of slavery is beyond comprehension.
So, the next time you hear white parents wringing their hands about their kids being exposed to the writings of Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Black Like Me or The Color Of Law, simply realize that you are witnessing white parents fighting to keep the status quo intact and avoid the task of prepping their kids to not enter adulthood with intellectual foot weights of ignorance and folly.
Contact Lafe Tolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org