Updated: May 26, 2022
Dispatch Editorial Board | Columbus Dispatch | May 22, 2022
As history has shown time and time again, racism is real and causes real harm to real people.
If two sets of GOP lawmakers have their way, Ohio's children would be shielded from that horrible, but necessary fact and made more vulnerable to believing hateful ideology that is often easier to find online than truth.
House Bills 616 and 327 would bar teachers from discussing racism — a national sickness that officials say led to the massacre of Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young and Ruth Whitfield May 14 at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo.
House Bill 327 would also restrict how public colleges and other public entities such as police departments and libraries offer training or instructions to employees, contractors or outside groups about so-deemed "divisive concepts" such as racism, sexism, inequality and religious intolerance.
Teaching kinds the truths of racism is not about making them feel guilty. It is partly about informing them so they can help prevent the sins of the past from repeating and protecting them from falling for the true divisive concept - white supremacy. The Dispatch Editorial Board
Authorities say it is clear why an 18-year-old man from a small rural town in New York injured three people and murdered Roberta, Margus, Andre, Aaron, Geraldine, Celestine, Heyward, Katherine, Pearl and Ruth — mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends who ranged in age from ages 32 to 86.
The suspect allegedly hates Black people and drafted a 180-page racist inspired by the Great Replacement Theory – a racist and anti-Semitic lie that there is an orchestrated plan to replace white people through immigration and interracial marriage.
Eleven of the 13 human beings law enforcement say he shot at the Tops supermarket located more than three hours away from his home were Black.
The N-word was written on the barrel modified assault rifle the shooter used in a Twitch livestream of the slaughter.
White youths left open to absorb lies about race
Last week, the News Literacy Project — a nonpartisan national education nonprofit — called on educators to help students understand racist conspiracy theories — something that would be impossible to do if House Bills 616 and 327 are approved.
"Our education system must teach young people about conspiracy theories that can lead individuals to fall for false narratives that have violent, real-world consequences. News literacy education helps people learn to think critically and gain the skills to be smart, active consumers of news and other information and engaged participants in a democracy," the organization said as part of a statement.
Aside from restricting what kids can learn about gender and sexuality, House Bill 616 would also specifically ban Critical Race Theory, intersectional theory; The 1619 Project, diversity, equity, and inclusion and so-called inherited racial guilt from public and private schools.
Tennessee banned critical race theory in K-12 schools a year ago.
As Tonyaa Weathersbee points out for a piece for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Tennessee lawmakers should be more concerned with Great Replacement Theory than Critical Race Theory which is not even taught in schools there or here.
She writes: "Sadly, (the Buffalo) tragedy isn’t solely the result of racism and xenophobia polluting the online and social media sphere, but the effect of GOP-led culture wars that have, among other things, painted teaching about race as racism, and white students as victims of the lessons, and not the reality, of racism.
Problem is, by restricting teaching truths about race in schools under the flimsy excuse of it potentially traumatizing white students, these lawmakers leave an opening for white youths to absorb lies about race online."
White supremacy, the true divisive concept
Teaching kids the truths of racism is not about making them feel guilty. It is partly about informing them so they can help prevent the sins of the past from repeating and protecting them from falling for the true divisive concept — white supremacy.
It is about building a future where people are not targeted in a grocery store because they are Black.
This is not an overreaction.
There are racists, homophobes and other bigots among us, and we do not just mean members of the 20 Ohio hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified. Unscrupulous media personalities and politicians are pushing a false narrative that white people should be afraid of the other.
Hate crimes targeting Black people jumped to 2,871 in 2020 from 1,972 the prior year, according to the FBI's hate crime statistics report released in August. The number of such crimes against Asians increased to 279 from 161, a statistic advocates say is low due to under reporting.
Bills such as House Bill 327 and 616 make it more likely that more human beings will get caught in the cross hairs.
They must be stopped.
This piece was penned by the Dispatch Opinion Editor Amelia Robinson on behalf of The Dispatch Editorial Board. Editorials are our board's fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.