Issues and news on race and racism have been prominent in The Laconia Daily Suns’ news coverage, columns, and letters to the editors over the last few months driven both by national and local events and a continuing debate on critical race theory in education. They prompted me to wonder “What should our children and grandchildren be taught about America’s racial history and about race today?”
Then Alison James’s letter of April 27 was published. Among her points on race were: “The CDC stated racism 'a serious threat to public health.' But a lie that hasn’t existed for 200 years. A few individuals aside, America as a whole isn’t and has NEVER been systematically racist.” These are important claims about American history. How does that view correspond with our history given that the Emancipation Proclamation which nominally ended slavery was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, a little over 158 years ago, the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending segregation in education was issued in 1954, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination based on race or gender? Which version of history should be taught? And should today’s racial issues and racial differences be addressed in our classrooms? And if “yes,” how should that they be addressed? If “no,” how will future generations become factually informed and critical “consumers” of data, information, and points of view in order to be effective members of the body politic?