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If public schools don’t reopen in most parts of the United States, they will soon. If battles over masking or non-masking during a global pandemic and the rise of the COVID-Delta variant weren’t enough, nor protests against access to inclusive sex education materials, teachers and librarians must now fight a third front. Critical Race Theory (CRT) opponents are flooding school and library board meetings in hopes of suppressing the use of anti-racist titles. Angie Thomas’ award-winning debut The Hate U Give is one such title that has been in the spotlight by anti-racism activists in Putnam County, New York.
The book is on a ninth grade reading list for school.
“This is what they” propose “for your child to read !! Allow them to teach your kids to hate our police, do you really support that ??! I need all of you to get up, make these calls, write these emails, request that these books be pulled, you pay for these books your child is being abused by an organization that wants to control your children !!! ! It also encourages violence and the murder of citizens and our police, ”says a Facebook post by local anti-racism lawyer Tatiana Ibrahim (a pseudonym for Tanya Brahimi). Ibrahim encourages her followers, many of whom began to follow, after gaining national attention for a speech before the school board that despised the CRT, to speak up and demand that the book be removed from the list.
Those who saw, shared, and replied to Ibrahim’s post on The Hate U Give noticed other schools where the book was on reading lists and said they wished the attention given in Putnam County to reach a greater level .
“I’m honest, you come out and fight my county alone, a county that has been silent for a long time, won’t take this crap anymore. Putnam County is taking back its schools. I am so honored to be part of a strong, courageous circle of patriots, ”Ibrahim replied in the comments.
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Ibrahim has not only attracted attention for her work against CRT, but also for “Blue Lives Matter”. She has helped other parents bring material to their school authorities and wider communities to get their anti-anti-racism messages across. Diversity, inclusion and educational justice were the subject of their protest, most recently in Yorktown.
The Hate U Give is no stranger to criticism as it has been on the American Library Association’s list of the most questioned since its release in 2017. Reasons for its constant challenge are, among other things, that it is “‘penetratingly vulgar’ and because of drug use, profanity and offensive language.”
Anti-CRT advocates took advantage of this moment to advance their agenda by targeting individual books like Thomas’s and adding a whole host of new reasons why the book is unsuitable for high school students. For Ibrahim and those who work with or near her, anti-police news and “hate speech against AA” are reason enough.
“Absolutely disgusting that the BOE subjugates and perverts our children with such offensive reading. Really a sin! “Wrote one commentator, while another remarked,” Raise your children, no children, no money. The only ones understand $$. I would never allow my child to be exploited in this way. “
One commentator devised an ingenious plan to fight against these “new” standards and asked locals to attend meetings. “Don’t expect your neighbors to stand up and fight if you don’t … the term warped used in this initiative is …,” It’s urgent and extremely important, and I dare say that most parents not knowing that … but Facebook has … names a member of the State Regents … What gives this selected group the right to impose their initiative on all school districts?
What is important here, however, is that those who advocate access to information, as well as books like The Hate U Give, Educational Initiatives for Diversity and Justice, and CRT in the Classroom can use the same plans Per this work. Sure, Facebook’s decision to censor a link is a real hurdle in the fight against anti-racism, but for those who want to encourage the continued use of books like Thomas, the New York Department of Education link is here with the contact person listed here.
For those in New York, reach out to the regents and encourage them to continue their work on diversity, equity, and inclusivity for nationwide curricula. Stand up and speak at local meetings to speak out against those who organize and promote whitewashed education.
One of the rights of this group is that parents must be involved. But they need to be included by considering the needs of every student cared for by public schools (and libraries), not just those of conservative, often white parents.
Besides, what’s so scary about learning about racism? As one commenter on the local Patch article wrote: “Politically correct, conservative parents who fear books contain” divisive subjects “are regressive activists.”
Pick up your phones, step into the meeting rooms, and make sure a small group of noisy, agenda-driven community members are unable to dictate the standards of information. Additional opportunities for participation, whether in schools or libraries, the tools here can help.
* all quotations are given as written