Senior Oklahoma school official says teachers can talk about race killing – if they pay attention to the race part

Teaching children about the Tulsa Race Massacre is completely acceptable, according to Oklahoma school superintendent Ryan Walters. Teachers just need to make sure no one feels “uncomfortable” about it.

At a forum in Norman, Oklahoma, on Thursday, a resident asked Walters how teaching about the massacre — in which dozens of white vigilantes terrorized a black neighborhood for two days — was wrong with him. against the state’s ban on race-critical theory.

“I would never tell a child that because of your race, the color of your skin, your gender or anything like that, you are less of a person or are inherently racist. That doesn’t mean you don’t judge the actions of individuals.” walters said. “Oh, you can. Absolutely, historically you should. ‘It was true. It was wrong. They did it for that reason. But to say it was inherent in it because of their skin, that’s is where I say this is a critical theory of race. You say race defines a person.

On Friday, Walters tried to clarify his thoughts in a statement in which he accused the media of trying to “create a false controversy.”

“Let me be perfectly clear that history must be taught with precision: 1. The Tulsa Race Massacre is a terrible mark in our history. The events of that day were racist, diabolical and inexcusable Individuals are responsible for their actions and must be held accountable,” he said. “2. Children should never feel bad or say they are inferior because of the color of their skin.

Critical race theory, typically taught in college-level university courses, suggests that systemic racism underlies much of American politics. But in the years since a Minneapolis police officer murdered black man George Floyd, conservatives have seized on the term and misinterpreted it to mean talking about racism and history — and blaming children. whites to be whites in the process. The moral panic surrounding critical race theory has expanded further to include topics such as diversity and LGBTQ+ rights, which conservatives derisively call “wake-up calls.”

The Tulsa Race Massacre began on May 31, 1921, after a black teenage boy was accused of assaulting a white teenage girl. Rumors spread across Tulsa and white vigilantes descended on the part of town known as Black Wall Street due to the concentration of wealth. The attackers spent two days killing and injuring people and burning homes and businesses. About 50 people were killed and thousands more were injured.

Walters, a former social studies teacher in McAlester, Oklahoma, won the election for state superintendent last November while campaigning extensively to stamp out “revival” and critical race theory in schools. (He also spread a conspiracy theory about kitty litter.)

At a rally for the far-right political organization Moms for Liberty earlier this month in Philadelphia, he wooed attendees by addressing all of the right-wing talking points on education.

“The radicalism that the left has embraced to try to force socialism and Marxism into our classrooms is the most outrageous thing this country has ever seen,” he said to applause.

But in his home country, his views don’t always resonate, even with his fellow Republicans. He has fully embraced the culture warsand other conservative lawmakers criticized him for focusing too much on cultural issues like book censorship instead of funding Oklahoma schools.

After being sworn in, Walters spent months claiming that school libraries provided porn to students. He demonized teachers’ unions, alleging they indoctrinated and abused students, and called them terrorists.

At Thursday’s meeting, he encountered an angry mob.

“No matter how much the radical left attacks me”, walters said. “It doesn’t matter how much the teachers’ union spends against me. I will never stop telling the truth.

It got so rowdy that two people were escort and the locals were disappointed. “I didn’t think that at 68, I should worry about my grandchildren’s public education going backwards instead of forwards,” a participant told a local Fox affiliate after the event.

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