Author of Texas Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory says Martin Luther King Jr. would approve of it

Texas Republican State Representative Steve Toth firmly believes that a program that teaches young people about systemic racism is itself a form of racism.

Toth is the lead author of, which seeks to ban the teaching of “critical race theory,” an educational movement that seeks to contextualize recent and historical events within a framework of systemic racism, in public schools.

“This bill is a direct reflection of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Toth told Yahoo News in a telephone interview this week. “It echoes Dr. King’s wish that we judge people on the content of their character, not on their skin.”

Toth’s Bill, which passed in both houses of the Texas Legislature and is directed to Gov. Greg Abbot’s office for signature into law, states that teachers of social studies and civics do not are not allowed to discuss the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex”, or the idea that “an individual, by virtue of race or sex, bears responsibility for acts committed in the past by other members of the same race or of the same sex ”.

High school students attend a class. (Photo credit to read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP via Getty Images)

The bill also states that teachers cannot be coerced into talking about the news, and if they do, they must “show deference to both parties.” entrenched issues surrounding the history of race and racism in the United States

“The more people learn about critical race theory, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, the more they oppose it,” said Toth, who noted that he is also a preacher that God led him. to write this bill limiting the teaching of what he called “an offshoot of critical theory and Marxism.

Yet Toth also said his bill would not prevent a discussion of critical race theory, but would prevent teachers from endorsing what he sees as his conclusions.

“We’re not saying you can’t talk about critical race theory,” he added. “We’re saying you can’t tell a kid that he should be ashamed of his skin color.”

The language of the bill reflects a national tendency among GOP officials to enact laws prohibiting the teaching of, the framework of which was in the 1970s by legal scholars such as Derrick Bell and Richard Delgado. In recent years, Critical Race Theory has become a catch-all term and a flashpoint of debate for parents, politicians, and education enthusiasts.

“The idea of ​​a culture war in education conjures up a host of long-standing, never fully resolved disputes over things like sex education, teaching evolution, the ebony, standards and curriculum history and bilingual education, ”wrote Andrew Ujifusa. in an article published last month in. “These and other issues emphasize the fundamental divisions and power imbalances (real and perceived) in society.”

High school students attend classes.  (Getty Images)

High school students attend classes. (Getty Images)

At least -,, and – have already placed limits on how race can be addressed in the classroom, and a total of 16 states seek to limit the way teachers discuss racism in school. The proposed restrictions have largely fallen along partisan lines, with Republicans opposing the teaching of critical race theory and Democrats pushing for its continued implementation.

“It is important to understand that the ban on critical race theory is not really about critical race theory, but is more broadly aimed at dismantling the voices and initiatives that advance a more equitable society”, Mary González , a Texas resident and associate director of the National Public Education Support Fund, whose work aims to make public education more equitable, told Yahoo News.

“The political pressure to push forward anti-critical race theory legislation comes from grassroots people who have been encouraged to believe in the misinformation about what critical race theory really is,” she said. declared. “On a large scale, I think we should show how the prohibition of critical race theory is bigger than a theory, but actually a danger to our public education system as a whole.”

HB 3979 also bans the teaching of The New York Times, a lengthy journalistic project written by Nikole Hannah-Jones that seeks to “reframe the history of the country by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story. our story. “

Civil rights activists are blocked by National Guards wielding bayonets while trying to stage a protest on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.  Protesters marching, carrying signs indicating

Civil rights activists are blocked by National Guards wielding bayonets while trying to stage a protest on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. The marching demonstrators, who carry signs reading “I am a man”, are also flanked by tanks. (Getty Images)

Like Critical Race Theory, Project 1619 sparked debate about how history should be taught in America. Several “factual errors in the project and the closed process behind it”.

Zakiyah Ansari, director of advocacy for the New York State Alliance for Quality Education, which fights for racial and economic justice in public schools, said Republican attempts to limit what teachers can talk about in class indicate why Critical Race Theory is needed.

“This smokescreen attack on teaching the truth about the history of racism in the United States proves why we really need a critical theory of race in our schools,” Ansari told Yahoo News. “Critical Race Theory is not about blame, it’s about acknowledging what really happened in American history.”

The debate over how, exactly, America’s racial identity should be taught divides even educators. Paul Rossi, a math teacher at Grace Church High School in New York City, denounced his school’s policy of requiring educators to submit.

“I refuse to sit idly by while my students are brainwashed,” he wrote in a scathing article published on former New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss.

“My school, like so many others, inspires students through shame and fallacy to identify primarily with their race before their individual identity is fully formed,” Rossi wrote. “Students are forced to conform their opinions to those generally associated with their race and gender and to minimize or reject individual experiences that do not fit these assumptions. “

Graduated from high school in 2018 (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images)

Graduated from high school in 2018 (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images)

Melissa Smith, an assistant professor at Oklahoma City Community College, has a different point of view. It was his summer course in race and ethnicity after the Oklahoma legislature passed, which prohibits educators from teaching K-12 students certain concepts of race and racism. Smith, who is white, taught for six years and thinks it’s important for young people to learn about racial inequalities in school.

“Our history in the United States is uncomfortable and that should make us uncomfortable and we should grow up from it,” Smith said in an interview with the. “And I say to my kids all the time, be comfortable being uncomfortable. And if I don’t make you uncomfortable in class, then I’m not doing my job.

Smith says she doesn’t teach that one class of people is superior to another, but she faces white privilege. She also points out that the course was offered in a school where students were not required to take it, but instead chose to take it. Now she says she has lost a large chunk of her income due to being withdrawn from the class.

Students pray together at a high school in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by David McNew / Getty Images)

Students pray together at a high school in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew / Getty Images)

published last month by the Washington Post, Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the law school at the University of Alabama and author of “The Disappearing First Amendment,” said the critical theory ban of race was unconstitutional.

“Laws that seek to ban ideas that lawmakers don’t like literally throw away the ‘veil of orthodoxy’ that these rulings denounce,” Krotoszynski Jr. wrote. “And the First Amendment certainly protects the right of a state-sponsored college or university to address issues of race, class and inequality in its curriculum. “

(Cover thumbnail: Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, Scott Heins / Getty Images)

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