CRT town hall depicts CRT pushback as "gaslighting" and a rise of "white supremacy"
"Anti-racist education" non-profit We Are hosted the town hall
Following the Dec. 13 “CRT Town Hall” hosted by We Are (Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education), the organization published a “post commentary” video by We Are’s Executive Director Ronda Taylor Bullock.
A rundown of that CRT Town Hall event and more details about We Are will be included later in this article. It’s worth noting that multiple Durham-area elected officials were either in attendance or were panelists for the event. Those individuals included freshman legislators Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham) and Senator Natalie Murdock (D-Durham), as well as Durham Town Council Member Javiera Caballero, Durham school board candidate Javonia Lewis and Vice-Chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners Wendy Jacobs.
Going back to the post commentary video, initially, Bullock talks about the upcoming annual “Let’s Talk Racism” conference scheduled for March of 2022. This event is being co-sponsored by We Are, North Carolina Central University’s School of Education, and Ben & Jerry’s of Chapel Hill.
Bullock said that the conference’s theme is “Seeing Critical Race Theory in our schools from theory to praxis,” and by praxis, she means “in practice” in K-12 classrooms.
The purpose of this event is to give K-12 educators and pre-service teachers an opportunity to engage in sessions centered on the impact of systemic racism and ways of dismantling it in our schools,” the event description reads. “A CRT framework helps us achieve this goal. While educators are the target audience, we welcome all community members to participate.”
“While most teachers by and large are not explicitly teaching a Critical Race Theory in their schools; they are not explicitly teaching the theory,” Bullock said summarizing what she called a “main take-away” from We Are’s CRT Town Hall. “However, we do have educators who are embodying Critical Race Theory ideas and tenets in their classroom, in their curriculum, and what we want to say about that is this is a good thing.”
“If a school or an educator or a school system is utilizing a Critical Race Theory framework that is forward thinking, it is rooted in truth,” said Bullock. “It is rooted in telling a holistic history of our country; it’s rooted in critical thinking.”
Bullock went on to say, “these are the things we want our schools to do.” She added this has “not been the norm” because it has “traditionally made people uncomfortable” and “we tell them to lean into that discomfort.”
Bullock reiterated to viewers that if they found a teacher, school or district teaching “CRT Pedagogy” that it was a “good thing.” She added it was such a good thing, that those educators or schools “need more resources” to do more of that type of work.
So much for the talking point CRT isn’t being taught in K-12 classrooms.
Bullock then shifted into an attack on “anti-CRT rhetoric.”
“We are against this anti-CRT rhetoric that is currently abounding and the negative narratives about a CRT framework,” said Bullock. “We wanted to make sure we were clear on that.
Bullock then said that CRT was being made a “scapegoat for issues.”
She said issues that should be focused on were recovering from the pandemic, providing housing, “disrupting” evictions, medical access, economic security, and better quality education.
“These are the conversations our political officials should be talking about,” said Bullock. “Instead, they are using CRT to stoke racial fear and to build a white supremacist base because they have found success – a political success – in stoking that fear.”
Bullock then doubled-down, stating that the opposition to CRT is the start of a “white supremacy movement” and that “we want to organize against it.” She then claimed there is “a lot of money and support from “Republican bases against truth-telling.”
Addressing “our community members,” Bullock asked, “What are you doing to help us unite against this uprising of white supremacy?”
Bullock reiterated twice that CRT backlash is “really about” white supremacy. She invited viewers to “fight against this anti-truth-telling, anti-democracy, pro-white supremacy movement.”
In the closing of her post-commentary video, Bullock thanked those who participated in the CRT Town Hall and made a funding pitch for We are, as an “anti-racist education” organization.
Watch the full clip:
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According to its website, Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education(We Are), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit “that provides anti-racism training for children, families, and educators.”
“We use a three-pronged approach to dismantle systemic racism in education by offering summer camps for children in rising 1st-5th grade, professional development for educators, and workshops for parents & families,” the website says.
Duke Energy last month issued $1 million in “Social Justice grants.” One of the grants went to We Are in the amount of $25,000 for Social Justice and Equity.
As previously mentioned, the executive director of We Are is Ronda Taylor Bullock. Bullock’s profile says she has a Ph.D but does not say what it’s in, just that it’s from UNC Chapel Hill in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement Program.
“Her research interests are critical race theory, whiteness studies, white children’s racial identity construction, and anti-racism.”
Prior to entering her doctoral program, Ronda taught English for almost ten years at Hillside High School in Durham, NC, where she now resides. Her husband, Kelvin, apparently works for Durham Public Schools as the director of Equity Affairs.
The CRT Town Hall
We Are’s CRT Town Hall took place on Tuesday, Dec. 14. and was accessible through Zoom by pre-registering, but was also live-streamed to Facebook.
The video can be accessed here: https://fb.watch/9VBUfUHzhi/
Highlights and partial transcript
There were technical difficulties with Zoom that delayed the start of the event.
WE ARE’s Twitter account tweeted that the point of this town hall is to “create a more unified public response” to the "anti-truth telling, anti-democracy movement."
WE ARE staffer Brittany Del Rosario repeated that goal in the opening remarks, stating they wanted to bring “our state and local leaders together to talk about the attacks against CRT and education.”
Del Rosario also said they wanted to address the “uptick in violence against school boards locally and across the country.”
“Before we begin, we must acknowledge the fact we are living and learning on stolen land,” said Del Rosario, inviting participants to join We Are in a “native land acknowledgment.”
Del Rosario directed participants on the Zoom call to a website to view the tribes who once “cared for the land we are currently living on.”
Del Rosario introduced Bullock, who described herself as a “Critical Race scholar.”
“I do critical whiteness studies specifically and I study white children’s racial identity construction,” said Bullock.
Bullock then introduced some slides to give “context” to the evening’s event.
The first slide was titled “Critical Race Theory in Schools?!?” and featured a tweet from a man whose wife apparently is a teacher in a North Carolina Catholic school. The man named Geoff Eaton tweets that a parent was asked what CRT is and had no reply, implying most parents are ignorant about CRT.
“In the media we’ve seen quite a few comments about CRT, a lot of pushback against CRT, that we don’t want to have these conversations… there’s been a lot of parent… parental concern, community concern and political concern,” Bullock said. “So this is a thread on Twitter that I wanted to share to start this conversation because there’s been a lot of talk about CRT in schools.”
Bullock said she pulled the tweet from Twitter because she thought it was “important to help ground our conversation.” She then read the tweet, then said this has “pretty much been the gist of the conversations that we have seen.”
“There have been people talking about CRT in schools but they don’t really know what CRT is,” said Bullock. She then claimed if you talked to your average educator, they didn’t know what CRT was either.
Bullock’s claims are contrary to what I have found as a reporter for the North State Journal, documenting CRT-themed professional development training in districts across North Carolina, including those in the triangle are such as Wake and Orange.
“Most teachers are not teaching it, this is a theory that is rooted at the collegiate level,” Bullock said.
Bullock then introduced a slide titled “What conservatives are saying…”
The slide images are made up of seemingly cherry-picked social media comments by random individuals on a Facebook post by Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden).
Bullock said that “people are saying ‘now they are teaching racism in public schools,’ ‘CRT sucks and so does the people who teach it,’ and that would include us over here at We Are,” said Bullock, who went on to describe objections to CRT as “narratives.”
Bullock said these “narratives” make one think that we don’t want CRT in our schools. She then shifts to a new slide titled, “But what is CRT, really?”
The slide, pictured above, lists some of the core tenets of CRT including the assertion one’s race is not biological, but instead a social construct. Bullock called that “a fact.”
Another CRT core belief asserts that racism will always exist, which is sort of captured in the slide’s second point.
Bullock’s slide lacks the key tenet or foundation of CRT, which is all of society is divided into two categories – the oppressors and the oppressed.
“There is a lot of gaslighting, a lot of fearmongering around CRT and the pushback against it in schools and communities,” Bullock said. “I want to say that many people doesn’t [SIC] even know what it is and even the politicians who are using it, they don’t actually know what it is either.”
“What is it really?” asked Bullock, who then read her own slide as the answer.
Bullock, pointing to the third item on the slide, said that CRT helps us move away from “individual meanness and biases,” however, the premise of CRT (oppressed and oppressors, ever-present racism) proves that to be a false statement. CRT is divisive, by its nature.
She also said that systems, laws, and policies “work together” to create a “pattern of racial oppression,” but leaves out that CRT defines that racial oppression as being directed at Blacks. Bullock claims CRT asks people not to look at individual racism but to “zoom-out” and look at “laws and policies that are contributing to the harm.”
Later, Bullock would contradict that statement that CRT was mainly about macro-level institutions and policies.
“There are patterns, there is an impact on people based on race. That there are systems based on race that are used to elevate those who identify as white and to oppress those who do not,” Bullock said. “Primarily those people of color, people of the global majority, and black people specifically.”
One of Bullock’s slides called CRT at “research framework” and contained five items she said were the “key tenets” of CRT.
These point are basically a watered-down re-write of the key tenets of CRT floating around the internet as listed below:
1. Centrality of Race and Racism in Society
CRT asserts that racism is a central and inherent component of American culture and society.
2. Challenge to Dominant Ideology
CRT challenges the claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy in society.
3. Centrality of Experiential Knowledge
CRT asserts that the experiential knowledge of people of color is appropriate, legitimate, and an integral part to analyzing and understanding racial inequality.
4. CRT challenges ahistoricism and the unidisciplinary focuses of most analyses and insists that race and racism be placed in both a contemporary and historical context using interdisciplinary methods.
Commitment to Social Justice
5. CRT is a framework that is committed to a social justice agenda to eliminate all forms of subordination of people.
“In our country right now, CRT is a hot button issue,” Bullock continued, adding that a lot of people had called We Are asking about it and what they are doing about it.
“On the one hand, as I said before, that many of the politicians and even the parents who are pushing back on CRT being taught in schools – they don’t actually know what CRT is,” said Bullock. “What we want to say is it’s gaslighting.”
“We believe that it is gaslighting,” Bullock reiterated, adding that “this has become the boogeyman...the new thing to blame in education.”
“I also want to say that while this is gaslighting, while a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about when they use this language of CRT and confusing it with anti-racism and confusing it with talking about race and racism, and confusing it with history, there are very real impacts to this rise and uptick,” said Bullock.
Bullock then pulled up a slide featuring an image of Mark Robinson, the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina, with text that reads “GOP leaders denounce Durham Critical Race Theory Resolution.
“So, for example, locally here we had some GOP leaders who denounced a Critical Race Theory resolution,” said Bullock. “They denounced… they named Durham City Council for having a racial equity task force that talked about the need and importance of folks in a systemic understanding of race and racism in schools. As a part of that, our school board was also named… the Durham Public Schools school board was also named and criticized because we now have a racial equity policy.”
Bullock then updated the slide with a new graphic that included a picture of a protest outside a meeting of an Orange County school board meeting. The graphic’s text reads, “OCS Board of Education to meet virtually after Proud Boys interrupt session.”
The meeting Bullock points to was, in fact, attended by a small group claiming to be Proud Boys, however, the vast majority were just regular parents. There were no threats made and no violent activity occurred, yet the Orange board of education chair, Hillary MacKenzie, ejected several speakers who complained about indoctrination, obscene books, CRT, and a resolution that “stands united against all forms of white nationalism and white supremacy.
Parents were also outraged when it was learned certain board members had allegedly gone into at least one school for the purpose of soliciting comments from students after telling them “white supremacists” were hanging around their schools.
Bullock continued to mention the Proud Boys a second time.
“Also in Orange County, a school board had to meet virtually after the Proud Boys showed up at their school board meeting,” Bullock said. “Not only did they show up at the school board meeting, they also showed up at the football game and were harassing children… children and families who came to watch football.”
The second part of Bullock’s above statement is partly untrue.
Yes, at least one Proud Boy was documented to have shown up to a student-led protest about masks that took place alongside a road near an Orange County high school.
No there were no claims of harassment of any kind according to the participants and local law enforcement who spoke with me about the incident.
The protest was held alongside a road because the school board and the high school principal had put in place a rule that only people with tickets to the game could be in the parking lot or the venue. At that time, tickets were limited to 2 per family of an athlete competing.
Following her remarks about the “Proud Boys,” Bullock said, “while this is gaslighting, there are very real consequences to this.”
“Also, We Are was named by Phil Berger,” said Bullock. “He posted on Facebook because WRAL did a story about the work we are doing in our anti-racism summer camps. And within the thread, he used images of the children in our camp. And, well I should say, his Facebook account, and then just a thread of just hateful comments underneath it. Actually, many of those comments I showed you earlier come from this actual post.”
The Facebook post Bullock is referring to is dated Aug. 3 and does mention We Are by name because the organization and its summer camp were the subjects of a WRAL news article.
Bullock’s comments about Berger posting images of their summer camp children were in fact inaccurate. Berger’s post does have a picture of the We Are summer camp kids, however, it is the WRAL feature image for their story.
Bullock then jumped into “book banning” and “censorship” with a new slide, specifically mentioning Critical Race Theory’s most visible proponent, Ibram X. Kendi.
“Then if we zone out a little bit, we have book banning,” Bullock said. “We have censorship happening. Books… and not just any books, books that talk specifically about history, race, racism… books that talk about…um, you know, the history of indigenous people. Books that talk about, you know, ah, such as… what is Ibram Kendi’s book… “How to be an anti-racist educator.” Books by Maya Angelou…um, just books that are rooted in talking about black and brown people and our very real, lived experiences. These books are being banned.”
Again, Bullock’s claim appears to have no evidence behind it, nor does she elaborate on book bannings in North Carolina schools on the topics she mentioned. Where there have been complaints are parents pushing back on sexually explicit and arguably obscene books like “Gender Queer,” “Lawn Boy,” and “George.”
Bullock then transitioned to say these alleged book bannings were about “banning truth” and “also contributing to the rise of this movement that is rooted in white supremacy.”
“And then, even in Texas, there was a bill banning and limited a teacher’s ability to talk about race and critical race theory in schools,” said Bullock, updating the slide with yet another news headline. “And not only that, there’s this conversation that we need to teach both sides of the Holocaust. What are those two sides?”
Bullock makes no attempt to clarify what she is referring to about “both sides of the Holocaust” and just moves on to the bill in Texas.
“We are not trying to scare people, but we do want to create a sense of urgency around what is happening here and these conversations,” said Bullock. “And the pushback, because it’s not just about books, it’s not about CRT. What’s happening here is white supremacy.”
The article headline used by Bullock is from the Texas Tribune published on June 15, 2021.
Like many media stories, what the headline says and what the bill actually says are two different things. The article title reads Texas “critical race theory” bill limiting teaching of current events signed into law.
However, the bill (House Bill 3979,) in no way limits teaching of current or even past events. In fact, the summary of the bill says that, “The bill prohibits compelling a teacher for any social studies course in the required curriculum to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs but requires a teacher who chooses to do so to strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”
The bill does bar any school or state agency from requiring training or orientation “that presents any form or race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex.”
The Texas bill also closely, if not identically, mirrors much of the language of North Carolina’s HB 324. For comparison, see the Summary bullet points.
Bullock then changed slides again to “refocus the conversation” and said, “White supremacy is the real threat,” and there is a “rise in fascism.”
“There is a rise in people rooted in anti-democracy, anti-public education, and we as a community are in this space here to talk about that,” said Bullock. “To talk about how we as a community, we believe in freedom and justice and truth-telling. Our voices need to be heard and we need to be just as organized as these voices who are anti-democracy, anti-truth-telling.”
“So, before we transition to our panel, I just want to put this on you all that today, it’s CRT, tomorrow it’s…what’s it going to be tomorrow?” said Bullock.
The slide then updates with additional text, asking “which side of history are you on?”
“And if we don’t have some pushback to public rhetoric, then this anti-CRT, anti-truth-telling movement will win,” Bullock said. “So, I just want to ask you all, which side of history are you on? Which side of history do you want to be on in this movement?”
Bullock thanked everyone for being there as she passed the event back to Del Rosario.
Del Rosario then listed the invited guests, which included freshman legislators Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham) and Senator Natalie Murdock (D-Durham), as well as Durham Town Council Member Javiera Caballero, Durham school board candidate Javonia Lewis and Vice Chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners Wendy Jacobs.
It’s worth noting that Javonia Lewis’ Twitter account is suspended and that We Are had been tagging that suspended account in tweets during the event.
Panelists included Michelle Burton, President of Durham Association of Educators; Alexandra Valladares, Durham Board of Education Member and former Durham County Commissioner; and Rodney Pierce, a North Carolina public schools Social Studies Teacher.
Pierce penned an article in July titled “Moral Panic over CRT” at the far-left website, Mother Jones.
Del Rosio said the event would “zoom in” to state and local issue and then “zoom out” to the national-level.
The first question went to Pierce, asking him about “pushback he has received about talking about race and racism” in his curriculum. Pierce responded by saying he had gotten emails from parents and administrators.
“I’ve been subject to what some might call “COINTELPRO 2.0,” said Pierce. “Where you have people… I don’t know…if they be students or colleagues, but you have people in your school building who if you chastise a student in the hallway – you know, rightfully so – because they are either being disrespectful or are breaking a school rule and you approach them and you know, and the conversation might get a little heated because a student wants to take a certain tone of voice with you or wants to appear, you know, that they want to physically intimidate you and let you know, ‘you know, I am not afraid of you,’ and you are sitting there trying to make your point, you will be recorded. Pictures will be taken.
Per the FBI archives, COINTELPRO was an FBI counterintelligence program that ran during the 1950s to “disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States.”
The COINTELPRO program expanded during the 1960s to include “domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party.” It also included espionage and “white hate groups.” All of these programs ended in 1971.
Pierce also said, “they will record you in your classroom while you are teaching.”
“It’s like you are under surveillance, to an extent,” said Pierce with a laugh.
He said that whatever they can do to make it look like you aren’t doing your job and that feeds “into this political narrative we have going on surrounding Critical Race Theory” will be used against you and “affect your employment status.”
Pierce said what he’s experienced “pales in comparison” to what others in the state or around the country have been “subjected to.”
“Our goal is to create a more unified public response to this anti-truth telling and anti-democracy movement,” Bullock told viewers.
Del Rosario then turned a question to Durham school board members. She asked about criticisms by Republicans, specifically Robinson and Berger. Del Rosario characterized the criticisms about a resolution supporting CRT as “attacks.”
Jovonia Lewis responded and said “We don’t teach Critical Race Theory in Durham Public Schools or any K-12 public school that I am aware of.
While it’s true that CRT is not a specifically named topic, the concepts within CRT are embedded into subjects like English Language Arts and Social Studies. Also, districts across North Carolina have required teachers to engage in professional development that includes CRT and how it can be woven into the classroom.
Lewis went on to say, “these attacks are a distraction from teaching real history.” She said it was “misleading” to characterize the Durham resolution as calling for the teaching of CRT in the state’s schools.
In fact, the Durham Resolution opposes House Bill 324 while endorsing the protection of Critical Race Theory. I wrote about Republicans reacting to the resolution in June. An excerpt is below, emphasis added and the resolution’s language specifically names Critical Race Theory:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Durham City Council calls upon our state and federal representatives to work toward the immediate, opposition to HB324 and work to ensure black history and critical race theory is included in our students’ public school education.”
House Bill 324, which Governor Cooper vetoed, would have barred public schools from promoting concepts or ideas that:
One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
The belief that the United States is a meritocracy is racist or sexist or was created by members of a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.
Lewis said the Durham resolution urged the legislature to pass a “robust” budget for education “with an equity toolkit” and fully funds the Leandro case.
In reality, the resolution does not mention the budget a single time nor the Leandro case. The closest the resolution comes to Lewis’ remarks is where it states, “Encourage our local, state and federal staff have access to racial equity trainings and the ability to explore critical race theory.”
Lewis suggested the state’s “$8 billion dollar surplus” be used for education but instead, there is a “false narrative about CRT.”
“Let’s talk about how we have overfunded independent schools without public oversight through public vouchers,” said Lewis, likely referring to the increasingly popular Opportunity Scholarships for low-income students. “That’s what we need to be talking about and attacking in North Carolina.
Lewis’ Durham school board colleague Alexandria Valladares said she “echoes” Lewis’ remarks.
"The question, for all educators and leaders, is are you doing out of love and care for all students or are you doing this for agendas?” asked Valladares in her opening comments.
She spoke about providing “funding and support that every child needs” but did not get into specifics.
“If there is such a concern about Critical Race Theory, what is the concern,” asked Valladares. Later, she would say every child deserves access to a “sound, basic education.”
Del Rosario turned to Burton and asked her how the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) was “countering this anti-education movement.
Burton said as a school library coordinator she was impacted because this deals with “intellectual freedom” and “censorship.”
“As president of the Durham Association of Educators, I am fully invested in the uplifting and education of all children,” said Burton. “And am committed to the fight of racial and social justice.”
The Durham Association of Educators (DAE) is a local affiliate chapter of the NCAE. The NCAE is a state chapter of the country’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA).
“As a matter of fact, two of DAE’s core beliefs are keeping students at the center of our work and our commitment to racial and social justice,” Burton said.
Burton then went on to sing the praises of NEA President Becky Pringle and the NEA’s commitment to racial and social justice.
“We stand with our national affiliate and state affiliate,” said Burton. “This past summer at the NEA convention with over 8,000 delegates we voted to allocate $700,000 into measures to eradicate institutional racism in our public schools and we voted to allocate close to $60,000 to research conservative groups that are attacking educators who are doing the important work of teaching the true history of our country and teaching anti-racism in our schools.”
Burton said they allocated that money because teachers were being attacked for “doing this important work.” She said that because the DAE, NCAE and NEA are funding this work, they are being “attacked and maligned by oppositional forces” she claimed “want to destroy public education.
In her response about what actions the NCAE is taking in the state, Burton called parents pushing back on CRT in schools a “manufactured crisis.”
“NCAE’s message to its members is we must teach an honest curriculum that includes both the good and the bad parts of American history,” Burton said.
“And we also know that the opposition is using racial dog whistles to divide us and to attack public schools where the majority of our students of color attend,” said Burton.
“The NCAE recognizes the challenges many school districts are facing from this manufactured crisis… this CRT crisis… because they know that the demographics of public schools in North Carolina has changed drastically,” Burton said. “Over that past 20 years, we know that over 50 percent of students who attend public schools are students of color. And so, there is a big fear around that.”
Burton admitted that “right now, the NCAE is working closely with the NEA, our national organization, on research and messaging around CRT.”
In July, NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly vowed that teachers would teach CRT even if it was deemed “illegal.” Kelly was also on the CRT Town Hall call.
Another question was asked, this time of Rep. Hawkins about the process behind House Bill 324, ensuring dignity and nondiscrimination in schools, being brought to the house floor.
Del Rosario asked Hawkins what he thought of that experience. She also asked what it means that “CRT was not explicitly named” in the bill, which Del Rosario characterized as “intentional vagueness.”
Hawkins started his remarks by praising the panel for “giving nothing but truth.”
“As a civil rights leader said, “that fear-mongering and racism and, um, baiting is like a Cadillac.” Right?” said Hawkins. “There’s always a new edition. Always sort of a new model of it and it just evolves year over year over year.”
“And that’s where we are with this whole debate on CRT,” said Hawkins. “Nothing but fearmongering and politicians, like our lieutenant governor and others who are jumping on this bandwagon, they are doing what they do best. Sort of riling up the base, riling up the folks that will get distracted by pure fear tactics and nothing that is based on reality.”
“I think that the opening, and what some of us have said, is really, really clear that people – the average person – will tell you, “I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it.” And that’s just not acceptable,” Hawkins said.
"If you can’t name it, if you can’t describe it, then nine times out of 10 it’s a strawman, it’s not real,” said Hawkins. “And we do need to continue to say just that, but also be incredibly dedicated to allowing our kids to have a sound, basic education in the state of North Carolina.”
Hawkins made references to people buying goods on Amazon and then said that the state will continue to have money that we need to support public education.
“So, the bill… 324… came to the legislature basically from a national playbook,” said Hawkins. “The only thing that they knew, of which I think was mentioned before, is a way to sort of start the censorship and the constraints on public education and our teachers.”
Hawkins then claimed that those who brought the bill forward want people to think that “what happened 30, 40, or 50 years ago, they want you to think happened a very long time ago,” and not realize “a lot of those people are still with us.”
“I think that as part of the national playbook, from conservatives, from Republicans, they are trying to get ahead of us and play to a base, but also stop the real critical conversations that will happen because of the natural curiosity from students and all the ways students get their information.”
“People just don’t want discomfort,” said Hawkins. “As a former public educator, with discomfort comes education.”
Hawkins then said the reason for “vagueness” in the bill is “because we have a governor who they knew would veto the bill.” Hawkins then said “reforms” in other states dictated what one “can and cannot teach or say,” yet no bill signed into law that is similar to HB 324 has actually done that.
“In North Carolina, I truly believe they understood that a lot of people were just not going to go for that and that the governor would veto,” said Hawkins. “The reason he would veto is because he is a product of public schools and the son of a public school teacher and understood the value of it.”
Cooper was asked his position on CRT but did not answer the question.
Hawkins next comments suggest that perhaps he had not really read the bill, based on what he seems to think is in it.
“In the way that they watered it down, was they said that the public school system and our curriculum should not make any one race, or one gender, or one people look bad or be looked down upon.” Hawkins said of HB 324. He called that the “gist” of the way they described the bill on the floor.
Hawkins said the “pushback from folks on my side of the aisle” was clear. He said they didn’t like the bill allowed for “interpretation by the beholder.”
He also said education was “under attack in a way it never really has been before,” but did not mention students and parents had to deal with remote instruction for over a year, which woke a lot of parents up to what their child was actually being taught.
Hawkins said the attacks on education were happening in an “overt way, with the lieutenant governor and his crusade…with his false campaign.” He said it was also happening with “smaller attacks on the public school teacher” and at school board meetings.
The event continued for another 35 minutes beyond what has been detailed in this article. There was some discussion of the Leandro case and some re-hashing of already covered topics.
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