MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We all know that some members of the Tennessee legislature are tone deaf on certain social issues. But now it is painfully obvious that they also have their heads in the sand when it comes to race. How else to explain the rush by House Republicans to get back to Nashville and push through an amendment that basically bans public and charter schools from teaching anything related to systemic racism in America.
No, the words systemic racism do not appear in the amendment – which passed by a 12 to 3 vote Monday in a House committee. But the coded language is pretty clear. Conservative lawmakers don’t want anything remotely connected to institutional racism and white privilege taught in any public school. Any school that does so, would lose state funding, if the amendment becomes law.
State Rep. Mark White of Memphis chairs the committee that took up the amendment. He and other Republicans based their decision in part on a story circulating among conservatives – that a 7-year-old child came home from school and asked her mother if she is racist. No one know if the story is true - but who cares? That’s all legislators needed to ban discussing systemic racism in the classroom.
It’s no wonder we have a serious problem addressing racism in America. With lawmakers like the ones we have in Tennessee, that problem will continue. And that’s my point of view.