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Why teachers will — and won’t — discuss Buffalo grocery store shooting

A memorial for victims near the scene of a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 15. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
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Teachers are once again grappling with how to address with their students racially motivated killings in America, this time at a Buffalo supermarket where 13 people were shot — 11 of them Black — and 10 died. A White teenager, who police said wrote an online document citing the “great replacement” theory, has been charged with and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting. The racist theory says that non-White immigrants are being brought into the United States to eliminate Whites. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican, and other GOP lawmakers have at one time or another echoed the racist idea.

This teaching exercise comes at a time in our history when Republican-led states have restricted what teachers can say about race and racism. Many educators are fearful about losing their jobs for speaking about these issues in their classrooms — at the very time that such discussions are as important as ever.

New critical race theory laws have teachers scared, confused and self-censoring

So how are teachers going to address the latest hate against Blacks? Will they?

The question was posed on Twitter by Crystal M. Watson, a math educator in Cincinnati, who asked: “How will you talk with students about all of the anti-Black violence that has happened this weekend? I’m curious.”

Dozens of teachers responded, including some from Texas, who said they couldn’t address it because of a new law that requires them to show “both sides” of issues.

One tweet, by Coach Mack, says: “Rural Texas here. Legally, I can’t touch it. Our law states that teachers cannot be compelled to discuss current events and if they do, they must ‘give deference to both sides.’ ”

Another tweet said: “Not every teacher is equipped for the conversation and their actions may cause more harm” — to which Watson replied: “Get equipped. There’s many resources.”

Here is some of the discussion: