Written in Ink

Michigan Eradicates Racism by Silencing Teacher

A few weeks ago, a Monroe, MI teacher was suspended for showing a film about how white people used to apply blackface to mimic African Americans during a lesson about Jim Crow racial segregation laws. The teacher, Alan Barron, was two weeks away from retirement after an illustrious 36-year career in the same district.

According to parents whose children are in the eighth- grade class, the administrator thought the lesson plan was offensive and racist. Mr. Barron was suspended the next day Adrienne Aaron's husband is African American, and their child was in the class. She said Mr. Barron simply was showing the students what occurred in history. She said her daughter was not offended and felt the subject needs to be discussed.


Most countries whitewash their histories, focusing on the so-called facts of the events rather than the underlying causes that ignited them eschewing a healthy examination of their own guilt. This is true of the United States with regards to its history of slavery. This is true of Israel, where I grew up and felt unable to question certain things, such as how assigning Arab citizens different license plates might be convenient, but that it also might affect their attitudes.

In thinking about the last argument that you had with someone, whether it be with a significant other, a friend, or a co-worker, it is much easier to concentrate on the things that the other person did wrong than it is to explore your own culpability. Initially, anyway. But eventually, if we want to move forward towards comprehension and eventual resolution, no matter the nature of the relationship, we need to look inward as well.

The idea that this educator was suppressed because he sought to enlighten his students, to broaden their understanding of a problem so pervasive even today that our own president is not immune, is intensely dispiriting. The source of the censorship is our very education system schooling the next generation of significant others, friends, co-workers, and leaders. It's unfortunately not something that should surprise us, but it should piss us off. And then it should frighten us. A lot.

ETA: I feel a little late to the party now. Jez posted something about this about an hour before me. I was robbed!


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