SPEAKING HISTORY’S TRUTHS
by Charles Coe
The opposition some people have to teaching “critical race theory” in schools is a cynical and intentional misinterpretation of a term created to describe how race is discussed by academics and historians. What opponents of “critical race theory” actually don’t want taught is history. In 2015, a history textbook used in Texas public schools printed a map of the United States describing “patterns of immigration.” The book characterized the Atlantic slave trade as “bringing millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” Elsewhere in that same textbook, enslaved people were referred to as “immigrants.”
As someone on Twitter astutely commented, “The people who threw rocks at Ruby Bridges for trying to go to school are now upset their grandchildren might learn about them throwing rocks at Ruby Bridges for trying to go to school.”
As writers we have the opportunity and responsibility to support the right of school teachers to teach the truth about this country’s shameful history of abuse against black, brown, red, and yellow people. Write letters to (or run for) your local school board. Print letters and op-eds in your local newspaper. Write to your local politicians. The people who don’t want their children being taught anything “that might make them uncomfortable” are loud and extremely well-organized, and determined to intimidate teachers into silence.
As writers we need to do our part to help make sure they fail.