History, ‘Mythory’ and Heart

For over a year, teachers and school boards have fought the myth of Critical Race Theory (CRT) being a bludgeon to batter white kids’ delicate psyche(s). Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has long been an advocate of school choice and privatization and glommed on to CRT, distorting its originator’s intent, purposefully making it a scary issue, not an examination of the historical inequities in the law. The move by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott—to use brown and black bodies as punishment for liberal whites is precisely why all History, including black History, is essential to teach America’s kids and adults.

Without getting bogged down in a long and much too complicated discussion in this forum, one of the founders of CRT [Richard Delgado] elaborated on the work of Professor Derrick Bell. Simply stated, a panel on race was requested to be included as part of the Conference on Critical Legal Studies. Once one is brave enough to acknowledge that the police department and vagrancy statutes were just a few ways the law was weaponized against black men and women, it seemed like a logical request to include in legal studies. Rufo was looking for a boogeyman, and despite the upside-down logic of Bill Maher or irate parents at school board meetings, the misinformation is rampant.  

America is fond of myth and fable in place of truth about our heroes. Facts do not lessen them; it humanizes them. Paul Revere was a brave man, but his famous ride was not done alone, and Revere never made it to Concord. Despite “dying with his boots on,” General George Armstrong Custer was the victim of his tactical miscalculation and poor generalship at the Little Bighorn. Again that does not speak to his bravery but his humanness. For as long as I have been of age, the adage Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it has been a part of my life’s education. The Armenians and Jews live by the motto never forget. Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wilmington, North Carolina, Colfax, Louisiana, Atlanta, Georgia, and Elaine, Arkansas are just a few cities with documented massacres of black Americans.

Whenever an egregious crime occurs, like the insurrection at the Capital, the news media interviews stunned Americans, who say, “this is not who we are.” Without a reference point or truth, we condemn ourselves to repeat it. How often must we massacre kids at schools or shoot and squeeze the life out of a man or woman and say, this is not who we are.” When Ron DeSantis flew families from Texas to Florida and then to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, that was not the first time people of color were used as racial pawns to instill hostility.

In 1962 Black families from Louisiana were put on buses, especially those with large families (kids), and shipped off to Hyannis, Massachusetts, to annoy what southern whites considered the bane of their existence—the liberal Kennedy(s). “We’re going to find out if people like Mr. Ted Kennedy. The Kennedys, all of them, really do have an interest in the Negro people, really have a love for the Negro and a desire to help them,” said  Amis Guthridge, one of the segregationists who developed the plan. Fortunately, the people of Martha’s Vineyard and Hyannis found within them something the Governor of Florida could not, a heart.  

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  • September 21, 2022