Press Release

#TeachTheTruth Rally at Wickford Town Dock on Sunday

“As an educator, it is important to me to help students understand the truth,” Paul Pasaba, a math teacher at Blackstone Academy Charter School. “Denying white supremacy’s impact on our history and its continuing impact on our lives means ignoring reality and shirking my responsibilities as a teacher.”
Photo for #TeachTheTruth Rally at Wickford Town Dock on Sunday

Published on August 27, 2021

The following is a press release and not an Uprise RI-written news story.

Press Release:

On August 29, local educators, students and activists will join simultaneous actions nationwide pledging to #TeachTheTruth about United States history at the Wickford Town Dock at the End of Main Street, a historical slave trading site, from 2-4pm. This is a rally in direct opposition to legislative censorship campaigns across the state and country that invoke the dog-whistle term “Critical Race Theory,” a misnomer created by an astro-turfed project financed with dark money.

“Teaching the truth is crucial to ensuring students have access to an adequate education,” said Izzy Montini, a senior at North Kingstown High School and a leader with Students4Change. “We must not leave out history, even when that history is not our proudest moment as Americans. It is critical to learn from mistakes in order to create a better world for tomorrow.”

“Critical Race Theory is not taught in public schools. The first time I was exposed to it was in grad school. It is not a Pre-K to 12th grade curriculum,” says Dr Johnny Eric Williams of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. “There’s been a lot of things said about ‘Critical Race Theory’ and media influenced by politicians, who are basically using it as a means to undercut any conversation about systemic white racism and whiteness. Critical Race Theory is basically an attempt to get the legal structure to recognize that white racism is endemic to the legal system in order to remediate it and get people to be reflective about how white racism itself is involved in the legal system.” A prominent and popular example of this train of thought is Dr Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which demonstrated to millions of readers how mass Black incarceration has flourished despite the attempts to eliminate explicitly-racist laws from jurisprudence. 

More than 20 states have proposed, and five have passed, censorship bills that would restrict what teachers can teach about the history of slavery and racism in the United States. A bill introduced last spring in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, H6070, sought to ban discussion of any “divisive concept,” including discussion of the historical concept that one race is superior to another. This censorship campaign has gained traction amongst parents who believe their children are being taught to hate themselves and one another through the teaching of “Critical Race Theory.” At the most recent North Kingstown school committee meeting, dozens of students, parents and teachers spoke in support of preserving the committee’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee and teaching the truth about history. Elected officials and educators have already faced intimidation, threats, and other forms of harassment as a result of this campaign, which seeks to eventually take over local school boards.

“As an Asian American person, these laws communicate to me that when racist attacks are happening against my people – as they have been in record numbers for the past year – that I should keep quiet about it,” says Paul Pasaba, a math teacher at Blackstone Academy Charter School. “As an educator, it is important to me to help students understand the truth. Denying white supremacy’s impact on our history and its continuing impact on our lives means ignoring reality and shirking my responsibilities as a teacher.”

Instead, this censorship campaign is yet another effort, financed by dark money sponsors like the Koch family network, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, United States Chamber of Commerce, and other right wing forces, invoking a red herring in order to foster local support for privatizing public education using vouchers at schools that, ironically, are authorized to discriminate under the rubric of “religious freedom.” It is a scheme to turn millions of dollars of public infrastructure over to the private sector and eliminate educator rights to academic and speech freedoms that includes an electoral and legislative strategy.1 

For more information, visit the Facebook Event Page or the national event announcement from the Zinn Education Project, Black Lives Matter at School, and the African American Policy Forum here.

CITATIONS
1) Bryant, Jeff. “What’s Up with the Sudden Attacks on Schools That Teach Critical Race Theory?” LA Progressive, 29 May 2021, LAProgressive.com/whats-up-with-the-sudden-attacks-on-schools-that-teach-critical-race-theory/ 

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