We have a moral responsibility to undo racism

  • Saturday, August 14, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

As members of organizations working for racial justice on Bainbridge Island we take issue with the op-ed piece that columnist Christine Flowers wrote in the July 23 Review called, “We’re simply reversing the skin color of the victims.” The op ed claimed that teaching about racism (which has been embedded in U.S. laws, policies and institutions) shames and blames young white children and is tantamount to child abuse. Nonsense.

The article was based on a disinformation campaign devised by ultra-conservatives and endorsed by Trump that aims to undermine the racial reckoning ignited by the murder of George Floyd. This is not the first time we have seen disinformation campaigns dressed up as cries against “reverse racism”.

Every time this country has taken any significant step toward racial equity, ultra-conservatives have risen up with cries of “reverse racism” and proposed laws to stop progress. When those efforts failed, they used violence. It is known as backlash, and it’s predictable, but very destructive.

This campaign is targeting teachers and schools with threats of fines, firings and even withholding of school funding in states where bans on teaching about racism have already been enacted. The campaign is attempting to gag our teachers and violate our students’ right to an education that is historically accurate and age-appropriate. The National Education Association has vowed to protect teachers under attack, but the danger is real.

Already 27 states have proposed and at least six states have passed gag-order legislation that bans teaching that people, groups or institutions are racist, sexist, privileged or oppressed.

Here on BI, despite the backlash of a small group, the school district had the courage to put strong anti-racist language into this year’s District Improvement Plan and made a plan to rectify more than a century of white-washed curriculum. The board had overwhelming support from students and parents.

This disinformation campaign has grouped any meaningful discussion about racism, sexism, homophobia and other inequities under an umbrella of “Critical Race Theory.” CRT is actually a university-level academic topic originating in the 1970s at Harvard Law School. They sought to understand the persistence of racism despite laws and policies against it. CRT is a way of looking at the role of law in upholding racial inequality. It challenges the idea that the law is just and neutral and posits, instead, that law tends to protect the status quo.

Ultra-conservatives have pounced upon CRT and twisted it to claim that examining the way law and policy have acted as levers of oppression victimizes and blames young white children. They are using this deceptive tactic to silence any meaningful discussion of racism. After hearing about this campaign Trump actually banned all federal diversity trainings.

Let’s be clear. No one alive today created racism. We were all born into this centuries-old brutal and oppressive system that is attempting to perpetuate itself. We are not to blame for racism, but we do have a moral responsibility to undo it. In order to undo racism, we must acknowledge it, educate ourselves and collectively work to eradicate it.

As parents and community members (both white and of color) we want our students to learn about the role of racism in U.S. history. We want to correct our own faulty education that deliberately excluded the stories and contributions of People of Color. Students want to learn accurate history, and we must support them, even if confronting the truth is uncomfortable.

Racial literacy is not “divisive”. It is a path to understanding and unity. We all need to learn about the systemic nature of racism, the dynamics of privilege and oppression, and how racism harms all of us. We need to have open conversations in our schools and communities about racism and its impacts. Racial literacy will lift up all children and give all of us the foundational understanding we need to build a multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy that might finally live up to our ideals of equality, liberty and justice for all.

Contributing organizations: Equity, Race and Community Engagement BI team; BISD Multicultural Advisory Committee; COBI Race Equity Advisory Committee; BI Historical Museum

More in Opinion

.
It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas – in November

These days, we’re all used to walking through retail stores in October… Continue reading

.
Give thanks; gratitude makes us happy

Because life is mostly made up of little experiences, occasionally interrupted by… Continue reading

.
Cash it in means nothing today

Slick Willie Sutton, the 1930’s bandit who favored elaborate disguises, was once… Continue reading

.
Can there be detention in Sunday School?

If you ever want to test the limits of your patience, your… Continue reading

.
Ding-dong bell; makes me feel not well

Our elected representatives in Washington produce bad ideas like cows produce methane.… Continue reading

.
Drug price controls always a bad idea

One of the things most people who write about politics won’t tell… Continue reading

Suquamish agree with judge on Makah whale hunt

The Suquamish Tribe was pleased to learn that after a weeklong hearing… Continue reading

Climate change: Global crisis requires local action

World leaders are working to address climate change, but we should be… Continue reading

.
Science is deafening, doesn’t have to be

It’s time to be honest. Despite all the scientific chatter, nobody yet… Continue reading

Elwood Watson
Conservatives phony on Critical Race Theory

Unless you’ve been in a deeply comatose state, you’ve probably noticed the… Continue reading

.
Dems unite or it’s going to be a disaster

Democrats can certainly try to convince themselves that the Virginia gubernatorial defeat… Continue reading

.
Thanks vets for what you’ve done, are still doing

I’m not complaining, but after 23 years of column writing, it becomes… Continue reading