Texas Senate Passes Anti-Critical Race Theory in Schools Bill That Waters American History Down With White Tears

Illustration for article titled Texas Senate Passes Anti-Critical Race Theory in Schools Bill That Waters American History Down With White Tears
Photo: creo2 (Shutterstock)

America is a racist country, and the people working the hardest to prove that it isn’t are the same ones actively demonstrating that it is.

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At this point, it couldn’t be more apparent that the Republican war against Critical Race Theory isn’t actually about CRT—because they don’t have the first clue what CRT even is. The popular narrative among GOPropagandists is that CRT teaches that white people are inherently racist and that some races are superior to others. Of course, anyone who has actually studied it knows that CRT—which is essentially a way of studying law and other political and social structures through the lens of race (because said structures have been around since racism was undeniably sanctioned through law)—doesn’t teach either of those things. So Republicans are prioritizing their feeling over facts and those feelings are becoming the basis for the bills they are pushing and signing into law.

Texas’ state Senate passed a bill Saturday that not only bans CRT from being taught in public schools and open-enrollment charter schools, it essentially limits how Black history can be taught to what doesn’t hurt the feelings of fragile white people.

From the Texas Tribune:

Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, introduced a reworked version of House Bill 3979 that also requires the State Board of Education to develop new state standards for civics education with a corresponding teacher training program to start in the 2022-23 school year. The Senate approved the bill in an 18-13 vote over opposition from educators, school advocacy groups and senators of color who worry it limits necessary conversation about the roles race and racism play in U.S. history.

The Senate-approved version revives specific essential curriculum standards that students are required to understand, including the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers. But it stripped more than two dozen requirements to study the writings or stories of multiple women and people of color that were also previously approved by the House, despite attempts by Democratic senators to reinstate some of those materials in the bill.

The Senate did vote to include the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 13th 14th and 19th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the complexity of the relationship between Texas and Mexico to the list of required instruction.

Yet the most controversial aspects of the bill remain, including that teachers must explore current events from multiple positions without giving “deference to any one perspective.” It also bars students from getting course credit for civic engagement efforts, including lobbying for legislation or other types of political activism.

So basically, we’re looking at the status quo—the teaching of American history through the lens of white comfort.

How exactly does one teach an honest and thorough lesson about the Civil Rights Act without teaching about the systemic white racism that made it necessary? How do you teach about the institution of American slavery without offering a “deference to any one perspective?” What other truthful and acceptable perspective is there other than “the shit was evil and white America allowed it to continue for roughly 250 years?”

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And then there’s this part: “It also bars students from getting course credit for civic engagement efforts, including lobbying for legislation or other types of political activism.”

Open hypocrisy is pretty much on-brand for the Republican party, but the hypocrisy of conservative politicians lobbying for conservative legislation that promotes conservative political activism but also bars students from doing the same for their own ideological purposes is, well, like I said...on-brand.

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Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, told the Tribune that Texas schools should only promote “traditional history, focusing on the ideas that make our country great and the story of how our country has risen to meet those ideals.” I mean, I’m sure anyone would rather tell the version of their life story that edits out all of the evil and highlights the accomplishments made through said evil, but that’s not a biography; that’s a love letter sent to one’s self out of denial of truth and delusions of greatness.

Republicans don’t want a lesson on American history; they want an ode to American exceptionalism. They want historical accuracy through omission of everything that they feel makes their beloved country look bad, and that just isn’t how it works.

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“There were documents that were chosen, not by Hispanics, not by African Americans in this body, but by Anglos,” Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said on the Senate floor in raising concerns that white senators are making all of the rules. “No input from us in terms of what founding documents should in fact be considered by all children in this state.”

This brings us back to CRT and how Republicans don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about when addressing it.

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“They have no idea what Critical Race Theory is, what it does, who the founders are. They’ve never read a book, much less a paragraph on it,” said Georgina Perez, who serves on the Texas State Board of Education. “I understand that maybe some white people are uncomfortable. Well, dammit, when Black people were being lynched, they sure as hell weren’t comfortable. Native Americans being removed from their land and Mexican Americans being shot to death in the middle of the night, that shit wasn’t comfortable either.”

And people of color who are having our histories and struggles watered down to protect white feelings are also uncomfortable. We’re uncomfortable with lawmakers who are declaring that systemic racism in America isn’t a thing while blatantly displaying systemic racism.

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Anyway, according to the Tribune: “The bill now heads back to the Texas House, which can either accept the Senate’s changes or call for a conference committee made up of members from both chambers to iron out their differences.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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This would be the same Texas that tried to make this history book a standard for schools: