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Banned books are nothing new in America.
Education, much like voting rights, has been under attack for longer than most of our lifetimes.
Today, GOP efforts to prohibit literature based on “Critical Race Theory” has reached a boiling point for some parents who are now pushing back.
Meet the women of Round Rock Black Parents Association (RRBPA).
About a year ago near Austin, Texas, a local school district hotly debated whether “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” could remain part of their district’s curriculum. White parents demonized it like most books about to be banned, but this time was different.
With an impeccable strategy implemented by RRBPA and over 3,600 Change.org petition signatures, a defiant ‘victory’ was claimed, and the book continues to be taught.
Round Rock Black Parents Association is a community engagement and empowerment network that unifies, mobilizes and uplifts Black parents, students, educators, and stakeholders.
Recently, efforts to block books about LGBTQ+, the Holocaust, and stories of POC have ramped up. Yet, books specifically about Black and by Black people have consistently been banned at a staggering rate.
In 2021 Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a bill regulating the manner in which U.S. history and racial ideology are taught. Similar “pre-banning” measures have passed in other red states regarding schoolbooks concerning CRT – which again, is not being taught.
State Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, released a list of about 850 potentially banned books from school libraries. Krause stated, the books “make students feel discomfort” because of their content about race and sexuality.
Books that provoke thought about Black culture have been lazily and purposely miscategorized by the GOP. In so doing, a broad “CRT” brush is painted over any Black book that broaches the subject of race.
There are boundless creative and enlightening books by Black authors which tell fascinating stories of all kinds, a fact Krause would know if he ever read one of those 850 books. However, many Republicans have focused on banning books that aren’t even remotely related to race.
According to RRBPA member, Ashley Walker, “It’s about kids’ experiences. It’s about Black boy joy or Black girl magic,” she said. “Yet, we’re being told it is about critical race theory — just because our kids need to see themselves in these books.”
Their feelings are not our problem.
White parents who oppose teaching about race maintain that their children shouldn’t be made to feel guilty.
Rai Wilson, an educator and parent of two school-age children, stated “It’s ironic when white parents say, ‘Teaching this is going to make my kid feel bad.” She elaborated, “when not teaching this is going to make our kids feel bad.”
If their argument is based on feelings and discomfort, they may need to get in the back of the line. An unfamiliar position I’m sure.
Learning about race is not a lesson plan – it’s a lifesaver – and Republicans know it. To preserve the sole word of their “master”, slaves were prohibited from reading.
This is the America they don’t want us to know because, for many of them, that is the America they still are.
Ultimately, Republican efforts to ban books will continue. Yet, thanks to groups like RRBPA, Black stories will continue to be told by any means necessary.