The following op-ed was written by Dulce Sherman, chair of the NDP’s Latinx Caucus Chair, Precious McKesson, Black Caucus chair and Colette Yellow Robe, Native Caucus chair and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star.
The University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents will vote Friday on a resolution to prevent critical race theory (CRT) from being taught on NU’s campuses.
As the chairs of the Nebraska Democratic Party’s Latinx, Black and Native caucuses and longtime community leaders, we want to express in no uncertain terms our opposition to this negative measure — which was proposed by Regent Jim Pillen, who is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Pillen and other Republicans, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, have made CRT a political boogeyman without actually knowing what it is. Simply put, CRT examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism. Students would be taught about the systemic racism that still exists today and permeates our society.
Further, CRT is a 40-year-old academic framework, so one has to wonder why the Republican Party is now trying to frame all educational experiences that discuss diversity and equity with a negative partisan lens.
From our collective experiences, the only answer is to create a wedge between white communities and communities of color, making us the villain rather than having Nebraskans see us as their neighbors and co-workers.
If Republican elected officials have their way, students would not be taught about the Tulsa race massacre — which occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents, some of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Our kids would never learn about the Trail of Tears — which was part of a series of forced displacements of approximately 60,000 Natives, including Nebraska tribes, between 1830 and 1850 by the U.S. government or the internment by the federal government of thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.
Ricketts is leading the charge to support Pillen’s red herring resolution to erase history — some of it unpleasant — and undermine academic freedom. Ricketts and Pillen are also trying to dictate how a person can attain knowledge, information and engage in intellectual activity, which violates more than academic freedom. It is a direct assault upon the sovereignty of one’s soul, mind and body.
Denying our factual history as communities of color is like denying we existed.
Let’s send a strong message to all future generations that everyone is welcome and can contribute to our society. While history is not perfect and oftentimes uncomfortable, we have the opportunity to make it better by understanding the past and changing the future.
We urge the regents to reject this measure and hope people will contact their regent to help defeat this wrong-minded resolution. We urge our fellow Nebraskans to reject this type of politics from Republicans that would divide us and work towards more education and healing.