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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Should the Black Lives Matter Agenda Be Taught at School? - The Atlantic

Should the Black Lives Matter Agenda Be Taught at School? - The Atlantic
What Happens When a Slogan Becomes the Curriculum

Last month, a public-school district that serves mostly elementary and middle-school students in Evanston, Illinois, held its third annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action—using a curriculum, created in collaboration with Black Lives Matter activists and the local teachers’ union, that introduces children as young as 4 and 5 to some of America’s most complex and controversial subjects. For example, parents of kindergartners in District 65 were asked to spend time at home discussing a book on race that teachers had read aloud to their children.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, by Anastasia Higginbotham, begins with a white mother turning off a television set to prevent her little daughter from seeing footage of a white policeman shooting a Black man. “You don’t need to worry about this,” the mother says. “You’re safe. Understand? Our family is kind to everyone. We don’t see color.” The book corrects the mother: “Deep down, we all know color matters,” it states. “Skin color makes a difference in how the world sees you and in how you see the world … It makes a difference in how much trouble seems to find you or let you be.” The book teaches that the truth about “your own people, your own family” can be painful. Next to an illustration of the mother locking her car door and grasping her wallet while driving in a neighborhood where Black children are standing on the street, the narrator notes, “Even people you love might behave in ways that show they think they are the good ones.” Later, the little girl castigates her mother for trying to hide the police shooting and other racism. “Why didn’t anyone teach me real history?” she yells. “I do see color … You can’t hide what’s right in front of me. I know that what that police officer did was wrong!”

The book instructs a young white reader that she doesn’t need to “defend” racism, and it presents her with a stark decision. An illustration depicts a devil holding a “contract binding you to whiteness.” It reads:

You get:

✓stolen land

✓stolen riches

✓special favors†


✓to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and all fellow humans of COLOR

✓your soul

Sign below:


†Land, riches, and favors may be revoked at any time, for any reason.

In Evanston, parents are asked to quiz their kids on whiteness and give them approachable examples of “how whiteness shows up in school or in the community.” In its focus on “whiteness” and its invitation to readers to challenge racism by interrogating and rejecting it, the worldview of Not My Idea is similar to that of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, now a staple of diversity-and-inclusion programs and anti-racism training. Not My Idea is also a jarringly CONTINUE READING: Should the Black Lives Matter Agenda Be Taught at School? - The Atlantic