According to the local paper, the father held up a copy of “The Black Friend” and said, “If this isn’t critical race theory, I don’t know what is.”
I agree. He doesn’t.
A young adult book of nonfiction, “The Black Friend” simply encourages White people to be thoughtful in their interactions with people of color. Chapters include “We Want You to See Race,” “Certain Things Are Racist, Even If You Don’t Know It,” and “So Your Friend Is Racist. What Should You Do?”
It’s an entertaining and helpful guide, suffused with the optimism that animates all how-tos: the belief that people want to do better, and, with a little education, can do better.
Or, as the father put it at the school board meeting: “It’s disgusting. It’s crap.” He also said he wasn’t going to return it to the library.
Now whether this man thinks racism is overblown, or over — or just something Black people do to White people, he has to admit that it’s an issue in the world today. Even in his almost-all-White school district.
He’s literally stealing from children a tool they could use to navigate their world.
Personally, I’d like my children to have those tools.
I am not horrified but relieved to know that students are reading “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” a sex education book by Robie H. Harris that is being challenged nationwide for its inclusivity of gender and non-heterosexual sex, and its discussions of AIDS, consent, and abortion.
This is information they actually need. Whether you believe sex is healthy or sinful or only something married straight people should do in the dark, it’s almost certain to be part of your child’s life — you can’t deny it.
Well, maybe you can. In September, parents in Ohio were outraged about a college-level writing course for high school seniors that included writing prompts such as “write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom.” They used words like “appalled,” “disgusting” and “offensive.” A child of the innocent age of 17 or 18 being able to imagine a sex scene? Inconceivable!
Parents are pretty good at fooling ourselves. Which is exactly why we shouldn’t be in charge of our children’s education.
Someone with real expertise should keep up with how many planets there are and how many genders, with the best way to do long division and to talk about race. Someone trained to develop curriculum standards and choose textbooks should keep revising our understanding of U.S. history. Not me! If we stuck with what I learned as a kid, we’d still be teaching kids that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights and the Pilgrims and the Indians enjoyed a mutually beneficial cultural exchange.
Who would want that?
Probably the same parents who don’t want their children to learn about climate change. As a recent piece in The Post detailed, even some parents whose homes were destroyed by the deadliest wildfire in California history don’t want their children — or mine — to have information they need.
Thank goodness for the teachers who persist and the parents, schools and school boards who support them. Because not only are they educating students, they’re educating the rest of us, too. According to a widely reported study published in Nature, children who had learned about climate change in school can help their own parents grow on the topic, through something called “intergenerational learning” — which, the authors note, works for topics such as gender and sexuality, too.
Intergenerational learning goes two ways, of course. I think we’ve had quite enough parent-to-child intergenerational learning, as when you teach your child that racism, climate change and trans people aren’t real, certain books are disgusting, and it’s okay to steal.
We need more child-to-parent intergenerational training, as when your child goes to school, learns about the world, and comes home and educates you.