For the past few weeks, I have heard from friends, colleagues, and enemies who say, ‘I never heard of ‘ Black Wall Street.’ Statements like that are why America needs Critical Race Theory in its’ school curriculum. I have spent my life, first as a child of public education and late in life as an educator—all in predominantly African American settings. I grew up with no such thing as black history or African American studies. As brilliant a scientist as George Washington Carver was, my whole idea of black American accomplishment, for most of my early education, was his use for the peanut. No Claudette Colvin, who preceded Rosa Parks or Dr. Lee Crumpler publisher of the ‘Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts’ in 1883. The next time you purchase refrigerated meat from another state or know of a wounded relative who survived WWII, thank Fred Jones.
Instead, I was bombarded with fantastical stories of white perfection and heroism to prove white superiority and confirmation of American exceptionalism; like Presidents George Washington, never lying or throwing a silver dollar across either the Delaware or Potomac River(s) or Teddy Roosevelt riding a bull moose. The beforementioned men were great American heroes, with no need for embellishment but America found it necessary to make them bigger than the truth. Dr. Nikole Hannah-Jones is being lambasted by the right-wing for embarking on a project that challenges the racial exceptionalism of America. Opposition to her premise, not the dispute of facts, has cost her tenure at the University of North Carolina making her the embodiment of the words ‘Race Card’ for conservative America.
Paraphrasing an old adage, the truth only hurts if you refuse to swallow it.
The idea of America has been a great experiment but ironically a Big Lie is threatening to tear it apart again. The last Big Lie, the defense of slavery tore it asunder, and now, once again, a Big Lie threatening the superiority of white America, is doing it again. Railing against the teaching of the scourge of slavery, the institution of Jim Crow, racially motivated massacres, and the blockage of voter rights, demonstrate weakness, not strength. Cringing like children caught with their hands in a cookie jar makes us cowards to our truth. Most of us, when we were children, heard over and again from our parents, the only way to defeat one’s fear is to face it. Now the lesson seems to be, ignore the truth and it will disappear—at least until the next truth advocate appears. Some of you may remember the scandal of TV celebrity chef Paula Deen. Ms. Deen seemed to extol the virtues of slavery and partially blamed their freedom from her family for the death of one of her ancestors. ‘Between the death of his son and losing all the workers [slaves], he went out into his barn shot himself because he couldn’t deal with those kind of changes,’ said Ms. Deen. She went on to say, ‘Back then, black folk were such [an] integral part of our lives, they were like our family, and for that reason, we didn’t see ourselves as being prejudiced.’ No example better proves the need for Nikole Hannah-Jones and Critical Race Theory to be taught.
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