by Maile Anderson
An enthusiastic crowd of teachers, parents, current Seattle Public School Board members and school board candidates gathered at Medgar Evers Pool at Garfield High School on Saturday June 12 to show their solidarity against the adoption of bills in several states banning the teaching of critical race theory.
The debate over restricting teachers to including white supremacist history or integrating ethnic studies into the curriculum is not new. Those who support its ban see critical race theory as racist, unconstitutional, and designed to make whites feel guilty. In fact, Critical Race Theory examines how racism is intersected and maintained in public institutions. As many speakers at the rally made clear, the point of Critical Race Theory is not to pit individuals against each other, despite what so many politicians and the media have distorted to do. .
While speakers were to voice their own concerns, the rally also included a walk through the neighborhood with specific stops that have historical significance. Among those with the mic were Kshama Sawant, Nikkita Oliver (candidate for position 9 on Seattle City Council) and Michelle Sarju, candidate for District 5 school board seat. Each spoke passionately about how educators, parents and activists are at the center of this social justice movement.
A recurring theme among the speakers was to promise students not to teach them lies. Michelle Sarju said: “Blacks, indigenous people and children of color, [so] that they have access to a high quality education in public schools – it is their birthright and they deserve. And that includes teaching real American history. We cannot have a democratic society if we only know full half-truths and lies. This is what brought us to January 6th. As long as we keep people in the dark, the white supremacist status quo will remain. Sarju went on to say that if she is elected, the children will be the boss and that she will continue to listen to these students to help them make informed choices.
Alexis Mburu, a sophomore high school student and organizer of the NAACP Youth Council, took the stage and advocated for the bills enacted in Washington state during this session that encourage education programs on the history and dismantling of systemic racism. As a current student in the school system, Mburu is keenly aware of how this will affect the rest of her educational experience and that of her peers. In direct advocacy, she urged teachers and politicians to stand up for the teaching of true history: “… it’s innovation, it’s courage, it’s promise, it’s change. … We are the truth, ”Mburu said. “We’re here to make sure our voices and the truth are heard no matter what [if] institutions keep trying to kill us generation after generation. [This] legislation [banning the history of racism is] trying to get into our classrooms, intimidate our teachers, kill the glare of every student that walks through those doors. Shine like me – I’m a sophomore. Whenever they [students] enter the classroom, they have something to contribute.
After a series of inspiring speeches, the group, led by teacher Bruce Jackson, began a march to influential and historically relevant landmarks, while occasionally doing Mburu-led call and response chants. The march stopped at Fire Station 6, which is being transferred to the ownership of the Africatown Community Land Trust, as well as Pratt Park, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, and Seattle Black Panther’s second headquarters. Party. The group was then brought back to the starting point of Nikkita Oliver’s closing remarks.
“How? ‘Or’ What [do] are we addressing the issues in front of us? I think about the climate, ”said Oliver. “We are in a state of emergency around the climate crisis and when we talk about polluted air or polluted water people start to feel more comfortable with the idea of not wanting to breathe or drink. of toxicity. When it comes to the environment we live in, around history, around the words we speak, around the stories we tell, it’s the same pollution problem. And just as we want to end the climate crisis, the climate catastrophe that lies ahead, we should want to end the catastrophe of racism and white supremacy. We should want to end the catastrophe of economic inequality. We should want to end the catastrophe of the problems in our education system, because they will lead us all down a path of death for everyone. “
For more information or to sign the petition, visit the Day of Action page on the Zinn Education Project website.
Maile Anderson had the immense privilege of traveling to amazing places with a camera next to her. She believes that documenting the evolution of the world, whether in the form of protests or other cultures, is important work that reinforces consciousness in this time of social justice. Follow her on IG: @tinypicturetaker.
📸 Featured Image: On Saturday, June 12, educators, activists, students and local leaders gathered near Medgar Evers Pool to advocate for the teaching of the history of racism and white supremacy in school curricula at the Washington State. (Photo: Maile Anderson)
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