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Classroom VOICES

Teaching bans on 'divisive concepts' including systemic racism and Critical Race Theory

July 2, 2021

Frederick Joseph during NewsHour EXTRA’s Zoom discussing state legislatures’ bans on teaching the history of racism, “divisive issues” and other topics in U.S. history that makes students feel bad or guilty.

On Wednesday, June 23, 2001, guest Frederick Joseph, author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person,” joined host Sari Beth Rosenberg, a high school history teacher, and educators from across the country to discuss new laws passed on teaching divisive concepts or so-called “critical race theory” education in classrooms.

As with all NewsHour Classroom Zoom sessions, the educator audience played an active role throughout the conversation. The discussion was recorded in full and available below, along with selected clips. You can find more information on Joseph’s book on his website here.

Frederick Joseph explains what led him to write “The Black Friend”

“I’m not going to just write a book that says ‘the judicial system is bad’ or ‘education is flawed for Black people and brown people’ . . . but what did I actually experience in these flawed and oppressive systems…”

Frederick Joseph explains his view of the relationship between CRT and anti-racism, and why opponents use one term instead of the other

“What people are learning in K-12 is not Critical Race Theory, it’s not the framework of Critical Race Theory… Critical Race Theory aims to combat racism, as does anti-racism, but they are not the same thing.”

How can teachers answer parents who worry that learning uncomfortable facts about American history will make them hate America and weaken their sense of citizenship?

“Constructive criticism has been at the root of what makes America special…”

Frederick Joseph is asked if there are any real signs of progress in recent years

“Had I not seen any change or any growth I’d probably not be sitting here right now.”

The full session is available here and viewable below:

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