On Wednesday, Alabama state legislators are set to begin discussing the amorphous and still-never-before-taught-below-the-college-level Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the Yellowhammer State’s schools. Just before the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the Alabama State Board of Education officially “banned” critical race theory from being taught in or around its 1,637 schools. The vote to ban CRT was 7 to 2, with seven white Republicans voting to ban it and two Black Democrats voting to keep education standards in school somewhat higher than what can be taught to a goldfish.
At the time, Michael Sibley, director of communications for the Alabama State Board of Education, told WBHM “It will have no impact on curriculums or any education standards. “Alabama doesn’t teach CRT. The resolution basically says we still don’t teach CRT.”
Of course, everybody with some understanding of how ignorance works knew that the strange symbolism being pushed by right-wing think tanks—to use culture war bigotry to crush public education—was a promise to racists everywhere that their child’s education may soon get whitewashed.
On Thursday, Feb. 3, reports came out that ignorance, like a chicken, is headed home to roost.
AL.com reports that Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey told the House Education Policy Committee that Alabamans seem to be exactly as confused as you knew they would be about what is and what is not CRT.
How is Superintendent Mackey able to identify this confusion? Well, he’s getting a lot of calls from concerned folks who happen to also be dumbass racists. “I had two calls in the last week that they’re having a Black History Month program and they consider having a Black history program CRT. Having a Black history program is not CRT.”
Black history month is February. This is a time when people around the country hopefully try and remember to center Black history and achievements in our country, as a reminder that Black history is American history. The reason for setting aside a month to dedicate to a specific group of Americans’ history is because there was, like, a few hundred years of slavery, segregation, and continued white supremacy right up until … the moment you are reading this line.
Dedicating a month to Black history also makes it very easy for schools to create lesson plans that highlight Black Americans and American history in a way that is focused and educational. Of course, the argument now being made to Alabama’s House Education Policy Committee by American Enterprise Institute’s Max Eden (who resides in Virginia), is that, while CRT is a scholarly concept that isn’t taught in grade schools, renegade teachers are figuring out ways to point out that racism is real and a thing that happens in America.
Here’s Max Eden saying a bunch of words, without giving a single concrete example of the things he claims are happening.
“If you kind of traced these words, that had become so divisive, you can trace them from this initial legal theory to all sorts of things that are parts of schools, education and professional development seminars, a lot of education, newspapers. The original kind of legal philosophic concept was entirely against the, you know, the American order or the 14th amendment or the civil rights or on the theory that what we perceive to be great advances towards equality, were actually things that serve to kind of further entrench the hegemony of white supremacy.”
Wait, did he use the word “hegemony?” Doesn’t that mean he should be fired from the world as that is clearly a word used by CRT zealots! Other speakers pointed out that CRT isn’t about trying to say any one group, marginalized or historically oppressed, is better than another group. There is none of what snowflake-reactionary conservatives call “guilt trips” about white supremacy. Just being born white or even from a family of virulent racists generations ago isn’t a thing to feel guilty about. The only thing one needs to feel guilty about is how you are now.
But this hazy understanding of CRT and what a teacher can and cannot teach in the classroom is by design. Parents who want their children to remain ignorant of our country’s history and current events will find power in a state apparatus that punishes teachers who don’t hold narrow and bigoted views of reality. This is an important thing since the parents have already shown they aren’t interested in an education that provides critical thinking as a component.
On February 1st, The Onion, a satirical news parody site, tweeted this out as a joke.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.