It’s incredible the way the Tipton County Republican Party has brought people together lately.
In the last two weeks I have talked with both Democrats and Republicans who can agree on one thing: TCRP’s far right campaign against Critical Race Theory is misguided at best.
They’re working on a dangerous campaign to discredit our school system by suggesting Critical Race Theory is being taught in our elementary, middle and high schools. If the powers that be agree, the system could lose its state and federal funding, thanks to new legislation passed by Tennessee lawmakers this session.
Through a post on their Facebook page on July 2 they suggested any lesson which teaches one group oppresses another, or has oppressed another, is CRT and shouldn’t be taught. To illustrate their argument they used a personal narrative from the Amplify curriculum called “Hello, My Name Is” where an Asian woman named Jennifer Lou, whose family emigrated to New England, recalls her adolescent wishes to like her white friends due to beauty standards and the standards of normalcy in American families. As the story wraps up, she realizes she’s perfect just as she is. The story is representative of many of our childhood desires to be more like someone else, whether that’s having blue eyes and blond hair (such is one of the themes of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye) or, as was my wish, to be more extroverted and not have a backside that always drew attention. Lou’s story is about race, however, and not about other features.
They have also shared a personal narrative written by Rosa Parks and have tried to discredit her recollections of her school days because she did not say that rural white students had similar conditions.
They have used the Greek myth about Hades, which is part of a unit on myths and fables, and student test data from 2018-19 to help underscore their point.
It’s all a little bit insane, to be quite honest, and you can laugh at it until you realize they’re on a mission to discredit the school system, its leader, administrators, teachers and students. Their goal is to cause a big fuss about curriculum, gain a following, then get seats on the school board in order to implement curriculum they believe to be important and proper.
I have a lot to say on this subject, as do they, but I think we should all be productive in our disagreement and work toward a solution.
If you’re concerned about test scores, why not advocate for literacy programs, lobbying for more funding and better benefits for our teachers, work with the superintendent to find a cooperative solution, or volunteer with programs like Arise2Read or donating books?
If you’re concerned about racism and minority children feeling less than, because you want the Jennifer Lous of the world to feel beautiful as they already are, show up at our schools with books like “I Am Enough,” “All Because You Matter,” “When God Made You,” “Little Legends” and “Little Leaders” and so many others which focus on Black and brown excellence and leadership.
If you are really passionate about racial disparities and encouraging Black children, why not introduce them to local leaders who look like them, who can tell their story, who can inspire them?
If you want to make a difference, talk to white children about the truth, as it actually happened instead of the nice, easier-to-accept way it’s done now. Let’s have middle schoolers go on field trips to the National Civil Rights Museum and let’s reflect on why there is a movement simply to express the fact that Black lives matter. Not matter more, matter too.
Instead there are complaints on Facebook, the sharing of distasteful and ridiculous memes, and invitations to the people who are campaigning against CRT, which is only taught as a specialized course in law school, to TCRP meetings to fear-monger the crowd.
Teaching the current curriculum, being actively anti-racist and teaching children what happened in an accurate way is not teaching CRT, and someone needs to say that in big bold letters.
I will do that if no one else will.
Thankfully I know I’m not standing alone. There are people from both sides silently standing with me. Like I’ve said, a select few from TCRP have really hit it out of the park with uniting different political groups against this issue, and that’s an achievement. (When school board member Farrel Vincent and I wholeheartedly agree on this issue you know it must really be a bad move.)
Let’s be productive and quit this ridiculous war on our school system over a non-issue.