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Conservative-run states across America have been fighting against classroom teachings of race and Oklahoma is no different. A new Oklahoma law bans Black books and race conversations. Like most GOP-backed and copycat legislation nowadays, House Bill 1775 actually plays the race and sex card.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a Fox News interview recently, “we will teach history. We’re just not going to get into the race-baiting stuff.”
“Race-baiting stuff.” Spoken like someone who says they “don’t see color,” Gov. Stitt can clearly see which way his party’s tide is heading and refuses to be left behind.
Their fee-fees are not our problem.
The momentum against banning books, mainly Black books — books authored by Black writers — that speak the truth has picked up steam since 2020. Karlos Hill, associate professor and chair of the Dept. of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma knows the problem inside and out.
Hill credits Critical Race Theory to Black legal scholar Derrick Bell, who died in 2011. “He made an argument about the enduring role that racism and racial discrimination has played in American institutional life, not just legal culture, but pervasive throughout American culture,” Hill said. Yet even with that nuance and context, when the GOP thinks of CRT, they see red. And like a quickly approaching stop sign to a distracted driver, they’ve slammed on the brakes much too hard.
The GOP does too much while Dems don’t do enough.
Hill continued, “This critical race boogeyman, this manufactured polarization is very effective in doing that, but it’s going to have long-term disastrous consequences.”
There were no complaints filed with Oklahoma’s State Department of Education about CRT before the law was passed and only two unfounded complaints were filed last fall. The problem simply does not exist. Nor has it ever existed in public grade schools.
Oklahoma’s ACLU is actively suing over HB 1775. Their executive director Tamya Cox-Toure explains, “We really should honor the expertise and the work of our school administrators and educators, into determining what is necessary and what is proper to be taught in schools.”
The suit continues after it was filed in October. “By no means do we think we’re done and we will continue to see these type of censorship bills evolve and we’ll continue to try to be as present and as vocal as possible,” Cox-Toure said.
Several of the plaintiffs in the suit are at OU as students. If they think banning books are going to stop students from learning, Professor Hill says they have another thing coming. “I’m certainly not going to stop teaching what I teach. I’m recommitted to doing what I do more than anything.”