The age-old question asks If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? As conservatives enact laws to shut down the teaching of topics such as critical race theory, an academic movement that seeks to critically examine social, cultural, and legal issues as they relate to race and racism. The question to ask today is if we ignore the inherent racism that has played a pivotal role in so many aspects of this country since its birth did racism ever exist?
Anyone who looks at the history of American with an objective eye would have to agree that several factors, including redlining, underfunding schools in communities of color, the lack of culturally diverse teaching in schools, disproportionate incarceration of people of color, disproportionate disciplining of students of color, negative media stereotypes, lack of employment opportunities and a host of other factors have contributed to today’s America being 100-meter dash with one group being afforded a 90-meter head start.
The argument that students—predominantly white students—will be exposed to supposedly damaging or self-demoralizing ideas is nonsense. Germany has not tried to sweep its Nazi past under the rug. For example, as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz drew near. Angela Merkel delivered a speech at the Auschwitz Memorial, where she expressed a “deep sense of shame for the barbaric crimes that were here committed by Germans.” Major German cities boast monuments, museums, and centers dedicated to the study of antisemitism and the Holocaust. Its schools present a conscious and responsible approach to dealing with the past sins of Nazi-era Germany. The past has already taken place, it cannot be changed, and it cannot simply be ignored because it makes some feel uncomfortable. It must be taught so we learn from our past mistakes and understand how we can change and develop for the better as people. If we ignore it, we doom ourselves to repeating those same mistakes and never growing as a society.