In a petition released Friday, some of North Carolina’s leading voices on racial equity are calling on state lawmakers to end to efforts to whitewash history through legislation such as HB 755 and HB 324:
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, universally condemn the widespread attempts to whitewash our education system in North Carolina by undermining efforts to better respond to the cultures, lived realities, and learning needs of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian children. What children learn and the information they are exposed to shapes their understanding of the world around them. We recognize this as a transparent disinformation campaign that uses fear, intimidation and othering as tactics for impeding progress. We fully recognize the intentional perversion of so-called “Critical Race Theory” as a scapegoat, intended to delegitimize Black and brown scholarship and excite a base of voters for upcoming elections. These futile attempts are sadly part of a historical pattern. We will not sit idly by as racial resentment and dog-whistle politics are deployed to slow national momentum toward social justice.
As stated by Malcolm X, “Education is the passport to the future”. Rather than prepare students for how to share power in a multiracial democracy with a rising majority of people of color, bad faith actors in our state have instead chosen to follow patterns of the past — backlash politics. We’ve seen this movie before. We know what is happening.
The attempts to prevent any serious teaching about systemic racism, identifying groups with structural advantages or investigating historical inequality are designed to preserve the status quo and keep us trapped in a bygone era. The bills presently being considered in the North Carolina General Assembly (HB 755 & HB 324) are the latest examples of the law being used to preserve white supremacy and prevent students from learning the truth. Nearly 200 years prior, the same state legislature passed a statute outlawing enslaved Africans from reading due to the belief that “teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion”. Today, they seek to prevent students of color from learning about themselves and keep white children from learning about themselves as well as hard history for fear they will look upon their communities harshly. This is educational malpractice and intellectually dishonest.
As those who champion the causes of anti-racism, racial equity, and inclusion, we are steadfast and unmovable in our conviction to teach the truth no matter what. We will advocate for the educational needs of all children, but most especially those who are historically excluded. Just as the United Daughters of the Confederacy used school systems to rewrite the story of the Civil War and spread “Lost Cause” propaganda, the rash of “anti-CRT” bills across the country are about protecting white feelings at the expense of everyone else. With more access to information than ever before in human history, these efforts at indoctrinating the youth will not be successful. We know what this is. We know they are coming for us, seeking to undermine teachers, demoralize families, and disrespect students who want better. Nevertheless, we declare our right to equal educational opportunity and commit to creating this reality. In the words of Ella Baker, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens”. If you support this statement, add your name to the petition and send it to others in your personal/professional network.
Letha Muhammad, Education Justice Alliance
Tehia Starker Glass, Associate Professor; and Founder/Director of Anti-Racism in Urban Education Graduate Certificate Program, UNC Charlotte
Christina Cole Spears
Janeen Bryant, Co-Founder and Director of Operations at the Center for Racial Equity in Education
James E. Ford, Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Center for Racial Equity in Education
Marcus Bass, NC Black Alliance
Erin T. Miller, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
You can sign and share the petition here: