This week, our F. Amanda Tugade reported on District 97’s anti-racism curriculum, which leverages popular material like the New York Times’ “1619 Project” and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, in order to finally teach students the reality of race in America — as opposed to the fictionalized (or at best lazy) account that so many of us have been taught in classrooms for generations.
It’s ironic that some white parents across the country who now feel that their kids are being indoctrinated into “self-hatred” or “PC culture” by this new and improved style of teaching history, didn’t register this kind of outrage about generations of Black students having to sit in classrooms reading history textbooks with captions like this:
“The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”
A Black Texas student took the photo of the caption, which appeared in a McGraw Hill textbook, according to Alia Wong’s 2015 article in the Atlantic.
The student, “named Coby Burren,” also texted the photo to his mom, Roni-Dean Burren: “Was real hard workers, wasn’t we?” Burren wrote, sarcastically.
McGraw Hill, a history textbook, literally got history wrong. And that’s not even the most egregious example.
We’re reminded of a 1993 article we published, “Boys in the Hoods” by Doug Deuchler, in which a longtime Oak Parker said that when it was released back in 1915, the film Birth of a Nation was shown to students in Oak Park schools.
“One former student remembered that he was influenced by the way the KKK came across as superheroes,” wrote Sarah Elizabeth Doherty in her 2012 dissertation: “Aliens Found in Waiting: Women of the Ku Klux Klan in Suburban Chicago, 1870-1930.”
“For Halloween that year,” Doherty wrote, the former Oak Park student said “he created a hooded Klansman costume from an old white sheet.”
This new anti-racism curriculum at D97 is needed precisely because of that old, ugly history, which should be learned, confronted and overcome — not censored.