Atlanta — By Daya Brown
This story was originally published by VOX Atl, Atlanta's home for uncensored teen publishing and self-expression.
On May 20, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp wrote a letter to the State Board of Education opposing the teaching of critical race theory in Georgia classrooms. Below you will find the following excerpt:
We must instead focus on our goal of providing the highest quality education to every child in Georgia, without partisan bias or political influence. Education in Georgia should reflect our fundamental values as a state and nation — freedom, equality, and the God-given potential of each individual.
State Board of Education members: I urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that Critical Race Theory and its dangerous ideology do not take root in our standards or curriculum.
Vulnerable and Unfinished
In 1619, when the first ship carrying African slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia and landed on American soil, its occupants became African Americans. However, to our owners, we were considered to be monkeys, gals, ni**ers, and animals. We weren’t worthy enough to be named after the kings and queens that ran through our bloodstream. We weren’t worthy enough to be seen, heard, or respected. The words from the lord and savior were twisted by the mouths of narcissists, belittling and brainwashing them into believing that they deserved to be slaves. If slaves were educated, they suffered the most punishments of all. Slaves were brutally whipped leaving wounds open and unhealed. Slaves’ fingers and toes capitulated, leaving them vulnerable and unfinished.
However, 402 years later, Black Americans are still finding themselves in the chains that were supposed to be abolished. I’ll be damned if the right of my education will be taken away from me. Therefore, dear education… I can’t breathe.
According to Education Week, critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. Critical race theory was produced out of the framework for legal analysis by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado.
From the inane statement of Governor Kemp, “Education in Georgia should reflect our fundamental values as a state and nation — freedom, equality, and the God-given potential of each individual.” Freedom is defined as a political right. According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
A U.S. History Lesson
Freedom in America was never given to my Black skin. Freedom in America has always been too far to reach because our government seems to place us far behind the rest. Freedom is being taken away from my mind to understand the complexities of why my people are so behind in America, today and tomorrow. Equality is defined as the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. According to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “No State shall… deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.” Today, we have come to the understanding that equality is only a word and not an action.
According to Georgia Public Broadcasting News, “Kemp has waded into the fray over critical race theory, banned vaccine passports and took a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border while attacking the “woke mob” and “cancel culture” after multiple groups sued over Georgia’s sweeping new voting law.” The article continues to quote Governor Kemp, “I will make this commitment to you: I will not waver in that fight,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s the Justice Department, Major League Baseball or anyone else. Every single Republican voted for that bill. And we’re going to continue to defend it, because the truth is on our side.”
Racism is in Our Bloodline
On June 3, Governor Brian P. Kemp tweeted, “I applaud the State Board of Education voting today to prevent Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in our classrooms. This dangerous, anti-American ideology has no place in Georgia schools.” Anti-American is defined as opposed or hostile to the people or the government policies of the U.S. It’s hysterical to me how CRT is now classified as “anti-American,” when slavery and racism are rooted in the bloodline of the American breed. If it wasn’t for slavery and racism, would the mostly white members of the Georgia Board of Education even pass a resolution to stop the teachings of the most dehumanizing centuries in this country’s history? Would this resolution even exist if slavery and racism weren’t instilled into American institutions? Isn’t that American History? Isn’t that America?
As a Black scholar, who attends a metro Atlanta school, I am ashamed that Governor Kemp, the elected leader of Georgia, is stripping my rights to education by using critical race theory to gain traction with conservative voters ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign. This election, of course, follows the historic 2020 election in Georgia and the 2021 runoffs — elections that turned the state of Georgia blue. As a rightful citizen of Georgia, we shall make it our duty not to re-elect a leader whose social construct aligns with prejudice, hate, and racism. I refuse for the curriculum of my education to be white washed. I refuse to let my fellow scholars continue to walk toward the miseducation of their ancestry and their future.
Being Black By The Numbers
Structural racism in America is Black America’s worst enemy. According to the NAACP, there are somewhere between 900 and 1,100 people who are shot and killed by police in the United States each year. Eighty four percent of Black adults say white people are treated better than Black people by police; 63% of white adults agree based on 2019 research on police relations. Eighty seven percent of Black adults say the U.S. criminal justice system is more unjust towards Black people; 61% of white adults agree. Police killings of unarmed Black Americans are responsible for more than 50 million additional days of poor mental health per year among Black Americans. This mental health burden is comparable to that associated with diabetes, a disease that strikes one in five Black Americans.
Stripping the right for a scholar to understand why her father is in a jail cell for a marijuana charge for 60 years, compared to a white man who received 15 years for first degree murder. George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, has to live with the knowledge that her father’s killer only received 22.5 years in prison (former police officer Derek Chauvin will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years). Stripping the right for a scholar to understand that the reason why their family lacks access to necessities is because the government pushed them into the most impoverished communities. Stripping the right for a scholar to understand the reason why they’re still learning from textbooks and not the MacBooks provided to the private school kids down the street. Stripping the right for a scholar to understand the power of education.
Education was never granted to Black Americans because we were not worthy enough to be educated, but our massa somehow was superior with a second grade education. The truth about critical race theory in America, is that the government is scared of the complex, educated minds of Black Americans. It is true, we will one day take over this nation.