New Hampshire Turns Students, Parents Into Bounty Hunters for Teachers Who Discuss Racism
In recent months, a number of states have taken steps to codify Fox News fear-mongering into law, banning “critical race theory” from being taught in schools. As a reminder, critical race theory is not being taught to children in schools—unless those children are in law school, as the term refers to a field of legal academia. What these Fox News hosts, white parents, and conservative lawmakers are actually opposed to is simply the act of thinking critically about race and racism, and that’s what they’re trying to erase from schools.
New Hampshire is one of those states trying to eradicate discussions of racism from schools. When drafting their annual budget, the state legislature inserted an incredibly vague ban on “divisive concepts” related to race and gender from being taught in public schools, calling it a “Right to Freedom From Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education.”
The law is not just vague; it’s incomprehensible. The news website Newslanes wrote earlier this year:
“One of the central problems with this bill is its ambiguity in what constitutes a banned so-called ‘divisive’ concept,’” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “One part of the bill aims to permit ‘workplace sensitivity training’ while other portions of the bill ban speech aimed at addressing ‘unconscious racism’ in the workplace. Similarly, one part of the bill purports to protect academic freedom while another portion bans the teaching on so-called divisive concepts. Frankly, the bill is indecipherable and internally contradictory.”
Making things even worse, the state set up a website for anyone witnessing a violation of the law to report what they’ve seen. Teachers who are found to have violated the law can lose their teaching license.
Now, a right-wing group called “Moms for Liberty”—that reportedly formed to advocate for school reopenings amid COVID-19 and fight mask mandates—has joined the fray, offering $500 to the first person who “catches” a public school teacher breaking this law.
“Moms for Liberty” with a speech bounty for teachers. Perfectly normal country. pic.twitter.com/YbKITM3KdZ
— nate bowling (local elections matter) (@nate_bowling) November 13, 2021
On the surface, the reportable offenses under New Hampshire’s law don’t seem like a big deal. They include teaching or advocating that any group is “inherently superior or inferior to people of another identified group,” “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” or that they should discriminate against another group or be discriminated against—all things that pretty much everyone can agree should not be taught in schools.
Except these things already are not being taught in schools. So why do so many people feel the need to formally ban them? You only need to watch about 30 seconds of Tucker Carlson’s show (already far above the recommended limit of zero seconds, if you want to preserve your sanity) to realize that basic and necessary conversations about race and racism are being contorted into bad faith arguments that white people are being “discriminated” against. Factual discussions of systemic racism are attacked for teaching students that white people are “inherently” racist and even evil, if Tucker is to be believed. (He is not.)
The problem is not that antiracists aim to make white people feel “guilty” – the problem is that white people who aren’t involved in antiracism often interpret discomfort as “being called a bad person”, which they in turn weaponize to shut down antiracist discourse and policies.
— Professor Fleming (@alwaystheself) November 1, 2021
It would be a lot easier to believe these schools and parents were actually interested in protecting students from discrimination if they weren’t simultaneously working so hard to ban books that discuss actual discrimination.
#OTD in 1960, a six-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to attend Frantz Elementary in New Orleans. The active efforts to ban her book from schools and Bridges’ continued activism speak to this history as both recent and ongoing.https://t.co/xs3iYy2Fvc
— Learning for Justice (@learnforjustice) November 14, 2021
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