Exactly a year ago, when former President Donald Trump spoke at a rally to a group of his supporters in the hours leading up to the insurrection, he declared,
We will never give up. We will never concede.
On that day, you probably thought he was simply referring to his reluctance to accept the final Electoral College vote results and, essentially, the effective end of his tumultuous tenure as president of the United States. What he actually meant by those words were the following:
We will never concede our white privilege.
We will never concede the truth about this nation’s racist past.
We will never concede the sins and racist actions of our ancestors.
We will never concede the right for people of the BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ communities to have their full humanity recognized and affirmed in schools and all other spaces.
We will never concede the land that we stole from Indigenous nations.
This list of declarations could go on and on but, hopefully, you get the point.
Trump’s words were more than a public declaration. They were a call to action for white nationalists to complete the mission he started when he took office. Based on the aggressive legislative actions of the political right, it’s clear that the call has been answered.
The Educational Fallout of January 6
Over the past 365 days, Trump’s memorable words have resonated with his faithful constituents and right-wing political colleagues so much that it has undoubtedly led to the most aggressive and racist brand of educational legislation that we have ever seen in the nation’s history. Just when we thought the whitewashing of American education couldn’t get any worse, we were sadly proven wrong with the politically misguided onslaught on critical race theory, ABAR children’s literature, anti-trans legislation, and all things that serve as a threat to the existence of white dominant culture in our schools.
We have seen principals, superintendents, teachers, students, and even parents take on a Proud Boys mentality with the blatant intent of murdering the spirits of Black and brown students. No, they’re not all walking around waving Confederate flags, sporting red MAGA hats, or hauling around guns. That would be way too obvious. Rather, they are making their presence felt by maintaining a willful allegiance to and entanglement with oppressive systems, curriculum, policies, and ideologies that serve to harm Black and brown people.
It’s far from a coincidence that we’ve seen a spike in anti-AAPI violence in schools, the emergence of anti-CRT parent advocacy groups, the Stop W.O.K.E act, and a series of legislative efforts to censor any curricular frameworks and children’s books that will reveal the truth about America’s racist past in schools.
It’s also not a coincidence that we’ve seen the unjust treatment of James Whitfield, Matthew Hawn, Rickie Farah, and countless other educators who are doing their part to challenge these problematic, anti-CRT narratives and fight against the tide of racial tension within their school communities.
This also includes ABAR education influencers such as Dr. Angel Jones and Liz Kleinrock who speak out about injustices and inequities within our education system on social media and end up getting shadowbanned, censored, and even suspended from their social media platforms while racist gaslighting trolls are given full license to cyberbully and dehumanize them without any repercussions.
Teaching About January 6
For my teachers who decide to spend part of their class time, having their students relive the violent insurrection of the White House, please account for the emotional and psychological trauma that you’ll be triggering in them. If you’re truly going to go there, take a mental snapshot of your student’s reactions. Let that snapshot be the fuel that pushes you to keep fighting for your students at all costs.
All it took was a few words from Trump to galvanize a nationwide movement of hate and bigotry that has unfortunately trickled into too many classroom spaces. Contrary to popular belief, we have the power to counter this thrust of white nationalist energy that is threatening the emotional and psychological wellbeing of our BIPOC students. We have the collective knowledge and human resources to push back, but that will require us to recognize how much power we truly have as educators and leverage it in the pursuit of educational justice.