N.C. Republican-led legislature claims teaching about systematic racism may hurt the feelings of White studentsBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / February 17, 2022
In the past few weeks, more than twenty bomb threats have been called into historically Black colleges and universities here in North Carolina, and beyond. The FBI says it has identified six “tech-savvy” minor persons of interest.
Last week in the Washington, D.C. area, two teenage boys were arrested for allegedly calling in bomb threats to seven predominantly Black high schools.At one of them, Douglas Emhoff, husband to Vice President Kamala Harris, had to be hustled off to safety by the Secret Service.
If there is one thing that most Black observers agree on is that bomb threats, and threats of violence against African American institutions like schools and churches are an important and relevant part of American history that should be taught.
History has shown that such threats have come about because Blacks have demanded full citizenship, equal rights, equal access and voting rights. Physical threats of violence were the most forceful ways to try and deter those efforts.
But new laws recently passed by Republican-led legislatures here in North Carolina and across the country, virtually prohibit the teaching about the realities of slavery, the 1960s civil rights movement, and other well documented events of African Americans striving for inclusion.
According to GOP lawmakers, teaching about such things as “systemic racism” may “hurt” the self-esteem of young White students, making them feel “guilty” about historical events they had nothing to do with.
“No student or school employee should be made to feel inferior solely because of the color of their skin or their gender,” said Chairman John Torbett (R-Gaston) of the N.C. House Education Committee upon recent passage of House Bill 324, which now outlaws “…the teaching that one race is inherently superior to another, or other related concepts that reduce individuals to their gender or skin color.”
The language of the law might seem to make sense, but if a N.C. teacher tries to instruct about White supremacy, and a White parent objects because the subject would make their child “feel bad,” that teacher could run afoul of the law in North Carolina.Today, the only excuse, if there is any, for the recent bomb threats on Black institutions of learning, is to dissuade young African Americans from educating themselves as fully as possible so that they can assume their rightful role as full citizens, HBCU leaders say.
“When I thought about young people (making the threats), I’m thinking about people that don’t really understand or appreciate the historicity and the pains to African Americans in this country, particularly historically Black college and universities,” said Zachary Faison Jr., president of Edwards Waters University in Florida, during a virtual panel discussion sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center last week about the recent bomb threats.
If all American students, regardless of color or background, are not taught about the torrid history of racism and White supremacy, it will lead to their ignorance of the underbelly of American history, not their awareness of it., educators say.
North Carolina is thought to have one of the softest laws on the books regarding not teaching about historic systematic racism like the 1898 Wilmington Race Massacre, police brutality against unarmed Black citizens, racial segregation and African Americans being cheated out of long held properties by greedy White developers.
And yet, it is a fact that many North Carolinians today have no idea about the racial reality of North Carolina’s past.