Republican State Rep. Jim Walsh recently introduced HB 1807 and Republican Rep. Brad Klippert introduced HB 1886 for this legislative session — two bills aimed at forcing educators to lie to Washington students about structural racism and the Sexism.
This copycat legislation stems from a growing number of bills across the country that seek to ban honest telling of history in K-12 education, including many of the long-running struggles against the ‘oppression. These bills include Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching, the 1619 Project, the Zinn Education Project, and Black Lives Matter at School.
It’s only fitting that Rep. Klippert’s invoice bears the number “1886” because that was the year a mob of white people in Seattle rounded up more than 200 Chinese, forced them into train cars, and transported them to the Seattle docks where they were put on a ship and deported. Although 15 people have been tried in court in connection with the riot – including police chief William Murphy who helped the crowd illegally round up Chinese people – not a single one has ever been found guilty of a crime.
It is equally appropriate that Rep. Walsh’s bill be numbered “1807” because this bill seeks to take us back to the beginning of the 19and century – a time when the nation was accelerating the attack on black rights in the North and colonizing the land of Native Americans. In 1807, New Jersey took away the right to vote from blacks. On April 1, 1807, Ohio banned blacks from testifying in cases with whites. Over the next 40 years, white people could act with impunity by filing baseless lawsuits and committing crimes – even violent attacks – against black people who could not testify to defend themselves or give evidence against them.
In 1807, in our own region of the Northwest, David Thompson – a fur trader, surveyor and settler – responded to Lewis and Clark with the first of several journeys that took him through the Columbia Basin region. for the North West Company. These missions by Thompson led him to establish trading posts on native lands in Washington State, northwestern Montana, Idaho, and western Canada. Thompson’s contribution to the establishment of the fur trade in Washington played a crucial role in the settlement of Native American lands.
HB 1807 and HB 1886 would seek to deny this very real history of structural racism that has lasting imprints on our society today. The irony is that HB 1807 and HB 1886, in their quest to ban critical race theory, confirm some of its central claims, including:
∙ Racism can be embedded in laws, even when they appear to use racially neutral language.
∙ Any progress on racial justice will be met with a backlash from white supremacy.
HB 1886 states that educators would be prohibited from teaching that “the United States is fundamentally or structurally racist or sexist.” But consider these facts: the average white family has 10 times more wealth than the average black family.
∙ A black woman is three times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth than a white woman.
∙ Black students are more than three times more likely to be expelled from school than white students.
· The median household income for Native Americans was 60% of the median white household income. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent estimates reveal that inequalities have worsened, especially for Native American women.
· At least 44 transgender and gender nonconforming people were violently killed in 2020, with black transgender women accounting for two-thirds of the total deaths recorded since 2013.
· Anti-Asian hate crimes jumped more than 169% last year.
You can either explain these facts as the result of black, aboriginal, and people of color being lazy, not caring about their future, or biologically inferior – or other such racist narratives – or you can explain that these disparities are the product of structural racism.
For teachers who believe in an accurate story, there’s really no choice here – we’ll still be teaching students the reality of structural racism and other intersecting oppressions. Revealing these facts in the classroom is not about shaming white students – in fact, it is those who deny structural racism who end up leading white children to suspect that they are personally responsible for the racial disparities they see, rather than understanding how systems can work to perpetuate inequality, sometimes regardless of the intentions of the people working in those systems.
We also want white students to learn about white people who have joined racial justice movements and to learn that while there are privileges white people receive from being in a society with racist institutions , there would be more advantages to living in a society that treats everyone. fairly.
Whether these bills pass or not, they are designed to rally forces that deny structural racism and create a chilling effect so that educators fear retaliation for helping young people learn racial knowledge. Parents who believe in fairness should help thaw this chilling effect by joining educators in speaking out against these bills and supporting Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (January 31-February 4).
Please believe that even if these bills pass, thousands of educators like me in the #TeachTruth movement will never submit to the mandates to lie to children.
Editor’s note: The Seattle Times occasionally closes comments on sensitive stories. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences in relation to this editorial, please submit a letter to the editor no longer than 200 words to be considered for publication in our Opinion section. Send to: [email protected].