Last Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill prohibiting Critical Race Theory or any curriculum that might cause white students “discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” from being taught in K-12 schools in the state. On Monday, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education unanimously denounced the new law and called it exactly what it is and what I’ve been calling bills like it that have been pushed by Republicans across the country: They are white fragility bills.
KOCO 5 reports that during the live-streamed board meeting, all eight members of the board took turns shouting down House Bill 1775. Board member Ruth Veales said that the legislation is aimed at silencing race-based discussions “in order to protect white fragility.”
“As a district that’s over 80 percent students of color, this is definitely an insult,” Veales said. “It is a situation that is so egregious to me.”
“When I listen to what the governor said in his speech, and to say it is not right for white students to feel like that they should be held responsible for the oppression that Black people and others have felt because of them, but then let’s talk about the generational wealth off the back of my people. Let’s talk about that,” Veales continued.
Here’s the thing: CRT doesn’t teach that white people, on an individual level, are responsible for slavery or any other part of America’s history of government-sanctioned racism. In fact, anti-racism advocates, for the most part, have never pushed that idea as a narrative. That’s just the message fragile-ass white people always take from literally any discussion regarding systemic racism. That’s why “but I’ve never even owned a slave” is pretty much the go-to strawman argument that the melanin-nots pull from their Book of White Tears Proverbs.
But expressing one’s feelings and discomfort is one thing; signing those feelings into law is another.
Anyway, the other board members—who are actual educators, unlike the GOPropagandists who have gone to war against CRT—generally felt the same about the legislation.
Several board members who were former teachers said conversations they had in their classrooms would have been illegal if the bill was around a few years ago.
“As a district, we don’t need this bill,” Carole Thompson said.
“It’s racist. It’s cowardly. It’s micromanaging,” Meg McElhaney added.
“It’s disgusting, and to think that in 2021 we could have a bill like this introduced, let alone heard in a committee, voted on and passed and signed by the governor, is absolutely appalling,” Mark Mann said.
As we previously reported, Stitt said in a statement regarding the bill that “We can and should teach this history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilty or shame based on their race or sex.” But that’s not what these bills are about. No one is telling white children that they are oppressors, and I think conservative politicians like Stitt understand that. The reason they’re so hellbent on banning CRT and any teaching like it into oblivion is that the teachings make America look like what it is—a racist country.
And you can’t truthfully or thoroughly teach “this history” without doing that.
White people don’t like how Black history or social studies from a Black perspective make them feel, so they ban all of it from education through law. That absolutely is systemic racism. That’s exactly how it works.