By Grace O’Malley.
Teach American history properly and we won’t have white people who believe in “reverse racism.”
It is worth noting that the majority of the Black Lives Matter protests that have gained attention and momentum have been in cities outside of the historical South: Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland.
As it turned out, the North was not the benevolent haven my grade school and high school textbooks taught me it was. If only the slaves could escape to the North, I learned, everything would be okay. But the North wasn’t exactly a great place for runaway slaves during the time of the civil war. It wasn’t that great for black people during Jim Crow either, or during Great Migration, or today. The neighborhoods and schools remain segregated, the income gap between black and white remains steep. Police violence against black men remains a constant in these cities.
Meanwhile as a movement to address these inequalities takes place in the “North,” Abby Fisher, young white woman from Texas is appearing in front of the Supreme Court to fight the University of Texas’ affirmative action policies. She apparently feels that she is being discriminated against based on her whiteness.
Fisher and those who support her have no understanding of the way that structural racism is embedded into the fabric of our nation; no concept of the way it oppresses and limits some and gives privileges to others.
But I stop myself–whose fault is this, that she does not know?
As I mentioned, my history classes in grade school and high school taught me that the North was a safe haven from the racist South. I was taught to understand racial inequality as a something that had happened in the past, but had since been resolved. We learned about slavery, and then Martin Luther King Jr., and got a day off for him in January: problem, solution, end.
Texas, in particular, has been known to promote a rather unique version of history in its textbooks. In July, the Washington Post noted,
“Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.”
Perhaps if Abby had had an education that included the uglier parts of American history, and the ugly reality of the American present, she would understand that she has never been discriminated against as a white person, and that she never will be. Maybe she would understand that reverse racism does not exist (unless, you have a time machine).
So yes, Abby Fisher. Education in Texas (and in the rest of the U.S.) does need to change. We need to start educating young people to get them to understand that racial inequality persists today–as a result of a whole history of racist laws, policies, and institutions.