“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’George Santayana
When my parents went to school in Tennessee and Georgia, they did so only with white children. The Jim Crow era segregated all aspects of public life. Today, a host of laws are designed to dismantle that system. Yet it cannot be denied that racial disparities still exist.
A 2019 article in the Washington Post listed 21 studies -then recently published- showing that Black and African Americans were more likely than their white counterparts to experience everything from traffic tickets to being accidentally shot by police. A 2020 study published in the peer reviewed journal Educational Researcher demonstrated that racial bias among educators is one factor in educational disparities between majority and minority students. Volumes could be written on this topic.
Some people would claim that suggesting that these two fact, one historical and the other contemporary, might be related is “teaching Critical Race Theory”. As a candidate for School Board tet me say this: Critical Race Theory or not, anyone suggesting that history doesn’t have an impact on the present, should have no place in forming educational curriculum. We study the past to better understand the present and to move toward a better future.
In the past couple of years the campaign against “Critical Race Theory” has led school boards in different parts of the country to do such asinine things as remove children’t books about Ruby Bridges, because it didn’t contain a “happy ending”. Some have even promoted US “History” textbooks which claim that slavery was a benevolent institution and that slaves were happy with their lot in life, A school administrator in Texas told teachers: “Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” The McMinn County School Board here in Tennessee voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize Winning work Maus from their 8th grade curriculum because they allegedly felt the words “damn” and “bitch” would be too shocking for children with access to TikTox to read while learning that a country systematically murdered 6 million jews and 5 million homosexuals, Roma, trade unionists, freemasons, and others designated “undesirable” by the Nazis.
History is rife with people of all places and times doing bad things. If the history you are studying doesn’t expose you to that, then it is not history. These unplesant parts of the past do not have neat beginning and ending points. They reverberate in to the present. If we do not take steps to stop them, they will reverberate in to the future. This is why we have an educational system.