It’s Thursday, so you know what that means: Another round of Republicans being unwilling to face the fact that slavery was the horrific, violent foundation upon which this country was built. In several states with GOP leadership, legislation is being considered to ensure that the brutal reality of slavery isn’t taught in schools.
According to the Associated Press, there are proposals in Arkansas, Iowa, and Mississippi (it’s always Mississippi) to ban The 1619 Project, a New York Times project spearheaded by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur “genius grant” winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, from being taught in schools. I have to give Hannah-Jones her flowers, because it’s been almost two years since the project dropped and she still has these men in their feelings.
The 1619 Project came under fire from Republicans for highlighting the fact that slavery was both essential to the founding of this country and the systems it still employs, as well as treating it like the completely horrific thing it was. The suggestion that this country was founded on subjugation and countless horrors didn’t sit right with Republicans who probably saw Robot Chicken’s 1776-themed 300 parody and thought “No, that’s actually how it happened.”
Former President Trump formed the widely mocked 1776 Commission, which downplayed slavery and instead celebrated the myth of the Founding Fathers. “American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture and values in the public square,” Trump said when announcing the panel.
Despite the fact that their god-king is currently eating Big Macs st Mar-a-Lago, GOP leaders are intent on picking up where Trump left off. In Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves has proposed putting $3 million towards a “Patriotic Education Fund” to combat revisionist history. “Across the country, young children have suffered from indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings that emphasize America’s shortcomings over the exceptional achievements of this country,” Reeves said when announcing the fund.
A measure in Arkansas, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Lowery, calls The 1619 Project a “racially divisive and revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded” and seeks to prevent it from being taught in schools.
Lowery has also taken it further by introducing a broader bill that would ban schools from teaching about social justice for one racial group. I just think it’s kind of funny how Republicans keep bitching about “cancel culture” but are quick to try and ban anything that doesn’t align with their point of view.
Never one to miss out on some racist fuckery, Texas Republicans are also considering measures to dictate how slavery is taught. Republican Governor Greg Abbott told lawmakers last week that students should be taught “what it means to be an American and what it means to be a Texan.”Abbot didn’t elaborate on what that meant, but considering he’s a Republican in Texas, I’m sure you can make a guess.
Educators, civil rights activists, and historians have been looking at these efforts with serious side-eye. “The idea of simply saying you’re not going to use certain materials because you don’t like what they’re going to say without input from professionals makes no sense,” James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, told AP.
Jonathan Rogers, a journalism teacher at Iowa City High School, told AP that he used the podcast for The 1619 Project in his class and that students were receptive.
“(Students) definitely responded to thinking about using different sources or alternative storytelling,” Rogers said. “Also, just hearing Black voices is so important when we’re talking about diversity and perspectives, whether it’s historical events or current events.”
It’s unclear how successful any of these measures will be, even in states with Republican-led legislatures. A ban on The 1619 Project gained zero traction in two Republican-led committees in Mississippi’s state Senate. Hopefully, the efforts in other states are met with similar fates.