By Otha Thornton and Candice Thornton
Governor Brian Kemp and the State Board of Education once again put the privilege exposed for our nation and the world to witness. Kemp’s public statements on Critical Race Theory and a subsequent board resolution passed last week illustrate the insidiously pervasive impact of systemic racism.
In approving a resolution that the state and country are not racist and that there should be limits to class discussions about race and controversial events, the State Council followed Kemp’s lead and manipulated education and history for political gain and basically told children of color in Georgia that their experiences are neither valid nor important.
The resolution states that “… concepts which attribute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish towards people solely because of their race or gender violate the premises of individual rights, equality of opportunity and merit that underpins our constitutional republic, and therefore have no place in the training of teachers, administrators or other employees of the public education system of the State of Georgia.
By enlisting in the Republican campaign to distort and turn critical race theory into a wedge issue, Kemp and the State Board of Education are supporting false and inaccurate historical narratives that lack nuance and accountability, while penalizing them. individuals and institutions seeking to educate and treat appropriately. systemic infrastructures and practices of racism.
Rather than denouncing the CRT and censoring conversations about race, gender and class, we suggest that Georgians familiarize themselves with the studies of the late Dr Derrick Bell, Dr Kimberlé Crenshaw, Mari Matsuda, Charles Lawrence, Angela Harris and Patricia Williams.
Additionally, we encourage Georgians to advocate for a fair curriculum that objectively contextualizes the complex history of the United States. By identifying existing gaps in the curriculum and integrating Critical Race Theory into Georgia schools, our students will be able to identify innovative solutions to national and global problems.
In a statement, board chairman Scott Sweeney said the board had passed “a resolution saying it would work to prevent the promotion of any divisive ideology based on race or gender from being incorporated into the standards. Kindergarten to Grade 12 Public Education in Georgia “. Kemp applauded the members for “making it clear that this dangerous anti-American ideology has no place in Georgia classrooms.”
Sweeney and Kemp mistakenly claim that the fight against systemic racism is divisive and anti-American. Rather than acknowledging the infrastructures and systems that contribute to racism, Kemp and the board have instead chosen to suppress the legacy and lived experiences of US citizens from BIPOC.
As a nation, we must recognize that racialized race and caste systems have existed since the arrival of the first settlers and continue to exist, in part thanks to legislation, education and propaganda.
As Crenshaw explains: “CRT is not a noun, but a verb… CRT recognizes that racism is not a relic of the past. Instead, it recognizes that the legacy of slavery, segregation and the imposition of second-class citizenship on black Americans and other people of color continues to permeate the social fabric of this nation. . “
As we educate our children in Georgia, it is imperative to understand and affirm the intersections of each child’s identity, culture, and exposure to the world and what it has to offer. Rather than meeting the educational needs of our children, this resolution illustrates the strategic evil that politicians and their respective parties are using to gain support for the 2022 electoral cycle.
As two-generation black Americans, we can attest to the white perspective imposed on history and the many omissions of anything that contradicts this benevolent view. Many of us have learned that Columbus found America, as if an existing place with indigenous peoples could be discovered. We have not been made aware of the harm that Columbus and other explorers caused with the support of the Imperial nations. We haven’t been taught about the 1906 Atlanta Race Riots or the Tulsa Race Massacre. We were not told about Seneca Village, a colony of blacks and natives who built their colony on the land of the Lenape people and were forcibly evicted to build Central Park in New York City.
We have not been taught the contributions of African countries to the world before colonization. Until we attended the HBCUs, we had never read such books as “The African Origin of Civilization”, “They Came Before Columbus” and “The Destruction of Black Civilization”. The Civil War was presented to students as the Northern War of Aggression. Even in 2021, schools do not explain the economic impact of movable slavery in relation to the civil war.
Our Georgian and American history has been written over the past 400 years with the intention of glorifying one race over all others. This supremacy remains very much alive in the Georgian education system.
While diversity, equity, and inclusion are priorities in most American organizations and workplaces, this resolution is the antithesis of those ideals. Diversity is about recognizing and celebrating differences, fairness is about examining how those differences contribute to the ability to access and resources, and inclusion ensures that everyone is welcome in the space. Critical Race Theory, therefore, does not divide, but is an integral part of the culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the classroom and beyond.
By identifying existing gaps in the curriculum and integrating Critical Race Theory into Georgia schools, our students will be able to identify innovative solutions to national and global problems. Our children need to be aware of the nuances that inform national law and their lives. If the state is allowed to censor student programs and prospects, Georgia will remain in the bottom half of our nation’s states in education rankings.
Unlike the State Board of Education, we unequivocally state that Critical Race Theory is valid and useful in enabling our children and future generations to identify injustice and envision diverse, equitable and inclusive solutions. Georgians must prioritize the education of our children and cultivate more diversity, equity and inclusion by supporting critical race theory in public schools.
This guest column was co-authored by Otha Thornton and Candice Thornton.