Opponents of the “Critical Race Theory” had a field day in the last few months. In Florida, a June law bans Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching in classrooms, and in the rest of the country, parents, community members, and lawmakers have worked to remove materials from classrooms – both what is curriculum and what is what is complementary – that offers non-whitewashed history, social and cultural insights, or literature.

However, these protests and laws are not about CRT at all. It’s about controlling what is being taught in the classroom to ensure that the global majority votes are suppressed in favor of white supremacy.

And in a central Pennsylvania school district, students have spoken out and called for Black and Brown writer materials to be reintroduced into the classroom.

Central York High School banned a wide variety of books, films, websites, and articles by various creators after the district revised its social studies curriculum in 2020. The district, whose diversity committee worked to develop a more inclusive and comprehensive curriculum, prepared a list of culturally relevant materials for review. But instead of including these in the plans, the school district instead turned the list into a list of prohibited materials.

The ban specifically targeted black and brown voices, from a documentary about the life of James Baldwin to materials from the National Museum of African American History and more.

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The four-page list of prohibited materials was sent to educators by Rector Ryan Caufman in August. The school board unanimously decided last November to ban the items after a series of heated sessions about including different materials in the curriculum. The board members claimed they loved diversity, but the proposed topics of white supremacy and black lives matter were “one-sided doctrine.”

“They ban Sesame Street material, but not David Duke. They ban PBS but not the KKK, ”Lauri Lebo, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said in an email with The Morning Call. “They even banned the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Statement on Racism – which recognizes that racism exists and is bad.”

Teachers at the school have spoken out, some even go so far as to say that they are “afraid of teaching”. A handful have spoken anonymously to local media and stated that the curriculum specifically targets blacks and browns.

This week students from Central York protested.

Students and teachers stood in front of the school to the honking and cheering of the parishioners. They opposed the bans and made it clear that their voices were heard regarding the board’s decision. As more and more students got off their morning buses, they were encouraged to join the group and raise their voices.

Senior Edha Gupta, a color student, helped organize the protest after it became clear that, thanks to the ban in the classroom, her experiences and stories were not represented or heard. She is a member of the student-run Panther Anti-Racist Union that has decided to do something. Gupta had been involved in the initial planning of the curriculum revision last fall and shared her own perspectives as a color student with the board.

“I think it’s got to a point where we need a physical demonstration to show how we feel about the board’s actions,” Gupta told York Dispatch. “They seemed to support the (proposed diversity curriculum), and I later found out that they banned those resources, which was kind of a slap in the face.”

“I’m white – I’ve never dealt with racism in this district,” Olivia Pituch told the York Dispatch. “But I’ve seen what racism does to my friends and I’ve seen them all their lives exposed to micro-aggression and constantly being crushed by comments.” She added that as a senior citizen she felt a responsibility to raise her voice to ensure that younger students have access to a fair, equitable and honest education.

The full list of prohibited materials can be found here.

Nkechi Taifa, author of more than one book on the list, wrote an open letter to the school district in response.

“I hope you prefer meaningful dialogue to blatant censorship. In a settler state founded on the attempted genocide of the indigenous population, followed by three centuries of enslavement of Africans, followed by 100 years of segregation enforced and intensified by violence, it has never been easy for the white population to come to terms with these issues publicly to deal with. “She wrote on Medium. “But as James Baldwin once wrote,“ Not all that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is confronted. ”It is my sincere hope that the growth that will result from your conflict is knowledge and increases understanding. “

The students do just that: they demonstrate against a decision that silences Black and Brown’s experience by facing white supremacy directly.

They plan to continue their protests at 7.15am each morning through Monday when the school board meets. Gupta and her colleagues plan to attend the meeting to make it clear that this decision is undesirable.