Stolen stories

Trump’s removal of anti-racism training silences minority voices in education

With the unjust deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, more people have started to realize the consequences of racist systems and the importance of learning about them. In late May 2020, protesters from around the country began to march for putting an end to systemic, or institutional, racism which is racism that is fixed into our own society.

Instead of responding to protestors’ demands, the government is eliminating anti-racism and diversity training programs from federal agencies, including the Department of Education. This decision is completely uncalled for, especially with the growing discussion of racial tension and systematic racism throughout the country, and will, in turn, heavily harm our schools.

On Sept. 4, in a news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump delivered his thoughts on eradicating anti-racism programs. Vox writer Riley Beggin, in her article titled “Trump orders federal anti-racism training to be ended,” reports that Trump’s plans to get rid of these training programs includes eliminating discussions of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and white privilege.

According to Purdue University’s website, CRT attempts to recognize how cultural judgements and racial stereotypes affect victims of systemic racism. It examines “the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression,” Purdue University wrote that CRT emphasizes historical, legal, and cultural documents and literature to demonstrate modern social and racial prejudices, including white privilege. CRT is especially essential in today’s day and age, as its approach supports victims in order to counter systemic prejudice in our country. 

It is crucial for people to investigate the social, political and economic disadvantages that unprivileged groups have faced. The study of white privilege helps challenge it, as more people begin to understand its implications. 

Thus, with the recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests demanding justice and a response to systemic racism in our country, it is counterproductive that Trump would abolish programs like CRT in the federal government that were made to better respond against racist ideals. 

The absence of CRT and other anti-racism training systems in our federal government will eventually lead to changes in our school, since they have an impact on what happens to different schools around the country by changing and manipulating what we learn and what we don’t learn at school. For example, the U.S. Department of Education website states that the federal government’s role is to improve education systems in all schools and for all students. Their goals include raising “community awareness of the education challenges…helping communities work out solutions to difficult educational issues” and most importantly, distributing the most recent and valuable resources for use in education and in schools.

With Trump’s new policy there will be a growing mindset in the federal government that ignores the importance of anti-racism programs and the awareness of racial prejudice, which will sequentially spread that mindset into schools.

Before Trump’s order, Bonita Vista High (BVH) has done an exceptional job in being able to discuss the topic of racial prejudice to students, but with this new policy our anti-racism education outlets may be harmed. For example, in his years of teaching at BVH, Advanced Placement (AP) United States History teacher Don Dumas has dedicated his lessons and teaching resources to fighting against racial prejudice by teaching students about the racial and ethnic challenges faced throughout the history of our country. He focuses his curriculum on literature from Gary B. Nash’s Red, White, and Black and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, which both primarily focus on American Indian and African American people and the prejudice or impacts they faced throughout history. 

Through the implementation of Trump’s policy against anti-racism trainings, as the federal government develops a mindset that doesn’t take racial issues into account, the federal government may no longer provide the usage of literature that challenges the traditional ‘white-washed’ version of American history, which will harm students’ ability to acknowledge and fight against the true racial prejudices that burden the U.S. today.

As writers Moriah Balingit and Laura Meckler outlined in their Washington Post article, President Trump claimed that teaching students about the mistakes and injustices in American history was ‘abusive’ to students. Even though this form of education, emphasizing racial injustice, is needed to realize the growing injustices of today, Trump proceeds to call it “left-wing propaganda.” Trump hopes to promote a “pro-American” school curriculum “celebrating the nation’s history,” M. Balingit and L. Meckler said. Trump’s encouragement of his planned school curriculum may lead to our students not realizing the implications of the topic of slavery, African Americans, immigrants and women injustices in the U.S., which are unwarranted today as police brutality based on race and other ethnic or gender based issues are still occurring today.

As CRT suggests, the use of historical texts and literature that display racial prejudice in American history in order to relate it to today’s social pressures lets our generation of students better recognize them and become better leaders in supporting victims of those pressures. In contrast, Trump’s new policy will counter the CRT mindset, harming our students’ ability to realize racial injustice in the U.S.

With increasing racial tensions throughout society in the United States, there is an extremely high demand for positive change that strives to respond to systemic racism in our government. In that case, it is startling that the President’s response to racial tensions and protests is ending essential forms of education that are necessary to dispose of the racist ideals in our country. Our schools will be hit hard by the elimination of anti-racist and diversity training programs, causing the exclusion of diverse textbooks that discuss the topic of discrimination and racism as well as the teaching of CRT in our classrooms. Students are the future and if they are not aware of the racial injustice and inequality in our world, they are doomed to encourage and implement them.