EDITOR: I have been an educator for 10 years, I have an MA in history, and I teach 11th and 12th graders in various forms of history courses. These courses cannot be taught without teaching about race, class, gender, and oppression; that is the crux of a history class. To teach history without naming the oppressor and the oppressed is to outright lie.
A few weeks back, I tweeted about how I will continue to discuss race, class, and gender in my courses regardless of what policies people try to put forth. I made this tweet because I signed up to teach history, not to teach propaganda.
History is filled with events that can make us proud and it is also filled with events that make us very uncomfortable and feel shame. They paint a picture of how we got here today, who benefited most from those systems that were built, and who has been blocked from those benefits throughout history. One example of this is redlining. Redlining prevented BIPOC from buying housing while white people were allowed and even incentivized.
This allowed white people to accrue generational wealth while making it more difficult for BIPOC to do the same so, even when those policies were outlawed, the effects continued and can be seen today.
That is what is meant when we use the term institutional oppression and that is what is meant when teachers say they incorporate critical race theory in a high school setting. I personally do not care what it is called, this is just honest history.
It has been made clear to me, however, that people either do not fully understand these terms and our history or they do and they want it suppressed. Since making that tweet, I have had hundreds of strangers from around the country (but not a single parent of a student I have had) message me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They have called my work, and they have even found my personal phone number and messaged me there, all with similar messages:
- “You should be fired”
- “You’re racist”
- “You hate white people”
- “You teach white kids that they’re all racist”
And the list goes on. Conservative think tanks like the Manhattan Institute are patting themselves on the back for creating this outrage. Christopher Rufo, Senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said on Twitter, “As predicted, we have frozen the brand ‘critical race theory’ and driven up its negatives…” The outrage and spreading of intentional misinformation of what is and is not critical race theory and what is and is not being taught in schools is rampant and it is, without a doubt, political. I believe with every bone in my body that this outrage machine will be steered towards school boards and other state and local elections to get anti-public school candidates elected. This slow and steady effort to move toward privatization has been going on for over 30 years and this is just another tool in the privatization toolbox and another manifestation of racism and oppression.
In summation, I will not be bullied into lying to my students and I will continue to be an advocate for all of my students, the public education profession, and my community and I am ready for the fight against these privatizers that will be coming our way.
— Brian Lindstrom, an Aurora Public Schools social studies teacher, via [email protected]