A nationwide student walkout and protest happened on Friday, February 25, 2022, in many cities. It was in response to Republican bills to ban books and censor the teaching of racial history in the United States.
These unconstitutional bills are being passed under the pretext of protecting white children from the discomfort of learning about the brutal history of racial injustice and discrimination of African Americans and other minorities.
Georgia Republican legislators are once again, finding solutions to non-existing problems. In the last few years, they passed voter suppression laws that make it more difficult for Blacks and young people to vote, as their solution to non-existent voter fraud.
Now they are passing repressive bills to censor classroom education allegedly to protect white children from learning the good, bad, and ugly history of the United States. Republicans claim this knowledge would make white children feel bad and guilty.
This latest Republican scam is more about throwing red meat to Trump supporters to get re-elected in the November election, than about protecting white children from learning about structural racism.
Funny how Republicans are not worried about protecting Black and Gay children from feeling bad when they are threatened and bullied in school simply because they are Black and/or homosexual.
Flying in the face of the GOP’s delusion of protecting students, a few hundred students from Fulton and DeKalb counties walked out of class to protest these bills. They explained that bills censoring freedom of speech and whitewashing history are what makes them uncomfortable, not being taught a fact-based history of racism.
Unlike Republicans who are uncomfortable with the truth, these students welcome discussions about race, racism, and the historical atrocities done to minorities. It sheds light on the dark corners of U.S. history and allows for enlightenment and change in the community.
STUDENTS PROTEST HB 1084 AND SB 377 ACROSS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL
Students from Fulton and DeKalb counties listened to student organizers describe the dangers of House Bill 1084 and Senate Bill 377 at a rally in Liberty Plaza across from the State Capitol.
“We are here today to protest the passing of HB 1084 and SB 377. These bills are dangerous and aim at silencing the voices of teachers and students. The sovereignty of Georgian schools to teach what they need should not be broken in favor of a forced government agenda. There is no control over what some people will report that makes them uncomfortable. Partisan discourse has been perverted into a place where attacks on the most fundamental value of the human experience is a risk,” Kaya Desai, DHS student, Hands Off Georgia, said.
Many lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly are old, white, and conservative and don’t represent today’s youth.
A young organizer put this in perspective when she said, “The people that are supposed to represent us are censoring our ability to think critically. These anti-democratic racist bills prevent students from discussing the true experiences of minorities that have been oppressed for centuries,” Ana Villavasso, DHS student, Hands Off Georgia, observed.
Republicans are calling these bills anti-Critical RaceTheory or CRT but that is a lie because CRT is not taught in any Georgia schools or even in college. CRT is only taught in law school. Republicans are hiding behind CRT to censor discussion about race, racism, or any divisive topic that Trump supporters don’t want their children taught in school.
“It’s a scapegoat scare tactic employed by Republicans who claim to be doing all of this to protect the children and claim that talking about race and racism makes white students feel guilty,” Yana Batra, DHS student, Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, said. and added. “Well, we are the children and we know what these bills are. They are an attempt to politicize our education, restrict our freedom of speech, and take away powerful representation from minority students.”
Katie Guenthner, a DHS student, working with Hands Off Georgia warned that if HB 1084 and SB 377 passed “Georgia would be known as a backward and uneducated state. We need to safeguard Georgia’s reputation as a home of innovators, musicians, activists, thinkers, and even a president – don’t let the legacy end here.”
If these classroom censorship bills- HB 1, HB 888, SB 377, and HB 1084 – pass, the history of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, the genocide of Native Americans are just a few of the subjects that would not be taught or discussed in school because it might make some white children uncomfortable and feel bad to learn the truth.
Here’s part of what these bills will do:
House Bill 1 will prevent the creation of “free speech zones” at public institutions of higher education.
Senate Bill 377 bans divisive concepts from being taught in schools. It covers technical colleges, public universities, and state agencies. This bill installs fear in teachers and will stifle meaningful discussion through threats of funding cuts and unpredictable and violent parental attacks from mainly Trump supporters.
Divisive concepts bans can be anything from systematic racism, homosexuality, gender identity, misogyny, feminism, to anything Trump supporters disapprove of – which probably also includes evolution since they are not big on science.
HB 1084 is similar to SB 377. The two differences include limiting the bans to K-12 in public school education and the penalties imposed.
HB 888 is another anti-critical-race theory bill, it would require the state to withhold 20% of its aid to a local school system found in violations of these bans.
If these bills pass, “they would ban us from talking about race and racism, prohibit us from discussing divisive topics like misogyny, prevent us from holding equity training for our teachers and whitewash our history,” Batra said.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) told the students, “I will vote against all these bad bills and there are 70 of us in the House who will vote against these bad bills.”
`It is so important that we teach race and racism the same way we teach math and chemistry as accurately as we can. We must learn all our history, the good and the bad. it’s important to learn the truth,” State Rep. Becky Evans (D-DeKalb) said.
Republicans’ efforts to censor and whitewash history and silence students and teachers have had the opposite effect to bring students together to oppose these ridiculous racist bills.
Students plan to register and vote out of office lawmakers who support censorship in the classroom. “We will vote these people out in November if they do not listen to us today,” a student organizer promised.
Students who organized this student walkout and protest against book bans and classroom censorship are:
Vinessa Taylor, DHS Student, Hands Off Georgia
Katie Guenthner, DHS Student, Hands Off Georgia
Ana Villavasso, DHS Student, Hands Off Georgia
Simone Meyer, DHS Student, Hands Off Georgia
Kaya Desai, DHS Student, Hands Off Georgia
Written and photos by Gloria Tatum, POB 33713, Decatur, GA 30033