They Should Know - 27 East

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Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1838732

They Should Know

Reader Ed Surgan and others have used these pages to rail against critical race theory, which they mistakenly imply is being taught in our schools.

According to Wikipedia, CRT is an academic movement that suggests that racial outcomes are the result of subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals. In other words, decisions that might seem to have nothing to do with race often negatively affect racial minorities.

For example, petrochemical plants are located near minority communities, whose residents then suffer from higher than normal cancer rates. Major highways are built through minority neighborhoods, adding to pollution and physically dividing communities. And a system that funds our schools through property taxes all but ensures that schools that serve minority students will be underfunded.

What should be made perfectly clear about CRT is that it is not being taught in any primary or secondary schools. But many conservatives are using the term as a red herring, because they do not want our students to be exposed to any historical facts that may make them feel “uncomfortable.”

Do they really think our children are so fragile that they will wilt when exposed to some troublesome truths? And do they think that America, the greatest country in the history of mankind, will be weakened if we acknowledge the faults of our past?

George Washington is the foremost of all the Founding Fathers. Through the sheer force of his personality, he kept the Continental Army intact until his forces were able to defeat the British. Many Americans wanted him to declare himself king. But he refused and retired to his plantation.

But Washington was a man of his time and strongly believed in a system that allowed human beings to be bought and sold. This made him a less-than-perfect human being, just like the rest of us.

Our students, I believe, should see both sides of our first president, instead of being exposed only to the cherry tree chopping “I cannot tell a lie” caricature many of us have been exposed to.

Our students should also know that Black men and women were routinely denied the right to vote until the 1960s, that lynchings continued well into the 20th century, and that thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent were interned during World War II, even as their sons and brothers were fighting the Germans in Europe. They should know that our government has broken virtually every treaty signed with America’s Indian tribes.

Only by knowing these things will they be able to guide these United States to a more just and fair future.

John Neely

Westhampton Beach

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