During Black History Month, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tweeted, “We can never forget the tragedy that happened 100 years ago,” in reference to the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Okla.
On Friday, the same governor signed into law a bill that prohibits K-12 schools from teaching any race-based curriculum that causes “discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” to students. In other words, it’s a law that protects white students from white fragility by banning any subject that forces them to think critically about American racism past, present or future.
Now, the Black Wall Street Times, “a black-owned and operated media news company,” according to KFOR 4, is calling for the governor of white tears to be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, because clearly, Governor “Never Forget” would rather educators and students forget that America being America is how the mass murder of Black people in Tulsa happened in the first place.
First, let’s take a look at the new law and what Stitt said about it.
“Now more than ever, we need policies that bring us closer together, not rip us apart,” Stitt said in a video about the legislation. “As governor, I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans by their race or sex. That is what this bill upholds for public education.”
House Bill 1775 prevents K-12 schools from teaching “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive,” and “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
Basically, this is just more of the Republican war on Critical Race Theory. As The Root has explained again and again and again, CRT has nothing to do with teaching that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive,” or that anyone “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.” In general, CRT is just an academic study on how the undeniable systemic racism in America’s history has been embedded in American law and other institutions that exist today. It literally embodies the energy of “never forget.”
But this isn’t about education, it’s about racism. Conservatives can’t say that they’re trying to “bring us closer together” while only considering the feelings of fellow white conservatives. Banning CRT does just as much to further the divide as teaching it apparently does. Black feelings are being disregarded while white feelings are being catered to. That’s racism and it’s exactly why Stitt’s obligatory request that we “never forget” the massacre falls flat and illustrates the depth of his and other conservatives’ hypocrisy.
In the editorial published on its website Friday, the Black Wallstreet Times wrote that “With just weeks until the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, this bill has re-opened deep wounds in Tulsa’s Black community,” and that “Many believe the law will make it nearly impossible for the full scope of the massacre to be accurately taught.”
“Leaders across the city, including the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, urged Stitt to veto the harmful legislation,” the article continued. “The Commission, of which Stitt is a member, issued a statement saying in part: ‘HB1775 would not only interfere with the teaching of Black history, but the entire history of the United States… We must do better for our children, our students and our future.’
The Black Wall Street Times urges the Commission to remove Governor Stitt immediately in light of his decision to sign this damaging bill into law.”
The publication also characterized the bill as “a bill spurred on by former President Trump and White supremacist groups,” and one that “allows teachers and school administrators to be penalized for teaching students about systemic racism.”
Not only is all of that absolutely correct, but I would go as far as to say that the bill itself is systemic racism. This isn’t a matter of a bunch of old, out-of-touch white men expressing their opinions and feelings; this is them signing their opinions and feelings into law. It doesn’t matter that none of these GOPropagandists seem actually know anything about CRT; they just know that it sets off their own “discomfort, guilt or anguish,” and that’s all they need to know.
According to News 4, the commission wrote in a statement that its members are “extremely disappointed that Oklahoma Legislators, including Governor Stitt, chose to support HB1775 which diametrically opposes the work of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.”