As if the sugar-coated version of Black history we learned exclusively during February wasn’t enough, students will be subjected to an even more watered down version. Axios reported schools are facing new limits to teaching during Black History Month as states begin banning critical race theory from school curriculum. Now, teachers are not even be able to discuss uncomfortable yet historical events like slavery or segregation.
Axios reported 14 states have signed legislation putting restrictions on education.
In addition, 35 states have introduced bills or taken other steps to restrict teaching critical race theory — a concept that focuses on the legacy of systemic racism — or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism.
Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors have faced fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of this organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.
Newsweek reported one Black administrator, Brittany Hogan, from Missouri resigned as a result of death threats and even had private security placed outside her home.
The bills that have been introduced make it so historical Black leaders or events will be taught without any context. For example, Axios reported that teachers could talk about Malcolm X but not his speeches or mention how Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball but not talk about the racism that initially kept him from the league. Imagine introducing Rosa Parks as a civil rights leader without being able to tell students the reason why she was fought for civil rights.
On top of that, the atrocities that happened to Black communities as a result of racist violence have been ruled out of education by lawmakers. Axios reported South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem introduced a bill prohibiting both colleges and schools from learning about evens like Tulsa and Rosewood massacres. The very states where major moments of Black history were recorded are banning their students from learning those moments ever happened.
Teachers have shared their concerns about the censoring of Black history.
Tracey Lynn Nance, a 4th-grade teacher in Decatur, Georgia, told Axios she estimates that half of the teachers she knows will continue Black History Month lessons as planned while the other half is distraught.
Nance, who has faced a backlash online for defending diversity and equity in education, says she plans to continue her lessons on Coretta Scott King and Black poets during Black History Month.
Center for Black Educator Development CEO Sharif El-Mekki told Axios the best way to teach within these restrictions is to use primary sources. “Teachers can they say...’I didn’t say this. They said this.’ That’s history,” said El-Mekki. As more states jump on the book banning train, students lose access to more digestible ways to learn about racism and Black history. However, in our digital age, white parents can’t hide their children from everything.