These new discussions about whether or how systemic racism and slavery should be taught in school are proving one thing unequivocally: Republicans don’t know shit about systemic racism or slavery.
During a debate Tuesday in the GOP-controlled Tennessee House of Representatives over Bill HB0580, which would prohibit critical race theory from being taught in schools, a Tennessee Republican claimed, rather stupidly, “that an 18th century policy designating a slave as three-fifths of a person was adopted for ‘the purpose of ending slavery,’” the Associated Press reports.
Apparently, white people believe that talking about the systemic racism inherent to America’s greatest sin is too troubling for white children and it hurts them to know that their ancestors may have had a hand in enslaving the fuck out of Blacks. The problem is that the more Republicans reject the idea of teaching critical race theory, the more they prove how badly it’s needed.
During the debate, several Black lawmakers noted that the bill had the potential to affect how certain subjects were taught. During their argument, they noted the Three-Fifths Compromise as one such issue that proves difficult to sidestep when talking about American history.
From the AP:
The policy was made during the nation’s Constitutional Convention in 1787 and classified that three-fifths of a state’s slave population could be counted toward its total population when apportioning taxes and states’ representation in Congress.
Historians largely agree the compromise gave slaveholding states inordinate power over choosing a president—and decisions of the Continental Congress. That clout eventually faded when Northern state populations began to rapidly rise.
Rep. Justin Lafferty, who is white, stood up and cleared up any doubt as to why critical race theory is badly needed.
“By limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives who would be available in the slave holding states and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery,” said Lafferty, from Knoxville. “Well before Abraham Lincoln. Well before Civil War.”
Republican mic drop moment. He walked off to applause from his colleagues.
While no Black members said anything during or after Lafferty’s impassioned and wrong AF speech, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat and chairman of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus, issued a statement later, noting that Lafferty’s comments were troublesome.
“Rep. Lafferty’s statement about how the Three-Fifths Compromise was created to end slavery was alarming but the real insult was when the House Republicans clapped for him when he finished his diatribe,” he said, AP reports.
Even though the House overwhelmingly approved the bill, which would limit funding to public and charter schools that teach critical race theory, the GOP-controlled Senate refused to accept the House bill. So now, no one knows what’s going to happen to the bill; it may just live a normal life, alone and unbothered, which would be fine for members of the Tennessee General Assembly as long as no one tries to teach it anything about systemic racism.