There have been a multitude of discussions and adopted resolutions lately from elected officials regarding the teaching of race in America and people’s concerns over Critical Race Theory. As confusing as these discussions may be, there is nothing remotely racially critical in Frederick County Public School’s social studies or history curriculum.
Now let me be abundantly clear, I am not trying to bring Critical Race Theory into our K-12 curriculum, nor do I know anyone else that is attempting to do so. We’re manufacturing outrage over a problem that isn’t present and around an area of study that most of us don’t even truly understand.
If we are all honest with ourselves, America is a country with an undoubtedly proven history of racism. From the Trail of Tears, the Naturalization Act of 1790, Turner’s Rebellion, the New Orleans Massacre, the Tulsa Massacre, Japanese internment camps, Redlining, and so many more, the direct and indirect acts of racism are evident. Because of these events, traces of discrimination are still present today when evaluating the discrepancies in economic security, healthcare, educational access, and more. Do I expect anyone reading this to feel ashamed for these events? Absolutely not. I do not want anyone, including our children, to feel bad for things they didn’t do.
These are uncomfortable topics to reconcile with — even for people in those targeted groups. But to have us get swept up in a debate about whether our county is or is not racist misses the point altogether. That debate makes us focus on our pride and desire for exceptionalism instead of identifying how we can acknowledge our country’s past, evaluate where we are today, and work together to move forward into a better tomorrow. Ironically, getting caught up in that racial debate affirms the type of political indoctrination it seeks to resist.
By refusing to confront the truth of our past and rejecting only those items of which we are scared to teach our children, we end up teaching our children to only look through one lens when evaluating issues, to falsify their past, and that it is okay to live in your own reality. We are also limiting our students in reaching their true potential by not allowing them to think critically and evaluate complex, intersectional issues.
But we can do better Frederick County. We can look to our past, identify our current state of affairs, and collectively develop plans on how we can achieve that ultimate goal of equality. Let us focus our time acknowledging our past to learn from previous generations’ mistakes instead of trying to censor our history. That is how we grow together.
Just a quick reminder, early voting starts Friday, Sept. 17. Make sure your voice is heard.
Eric Reifinger is a candidate for the Shawnee District seat on the Frederick County School Board.