State Censorship of Education
One of the terms I learned as a kid in Pittsburgh was “uppity.” It was typically applied to African Americans, who white people called “colored.” I attended a men’s breakfast last week and was shocked to hear a white man use the term “colored” to describe a Black man in a racist video he shared. But then, this happened in Florida.
I have been scolded for calling former president Donald Trump a racist, but unless we agree on the definition of certain words, we cannot have a productive discussion. Mr. Trump once defended his actions in a 1970s civil rights suit for scheming to keep Blacks out of properties he owned. He also bought a full-page newspaper ad claiming that the Central Park Five should be put to death for crimes they did not commit. The man has never denounced white supremacists, and his comments and tweets after changing the law that his company broke in the 1970s, show that he is a racist. The icing on the cake, however, was his active campaign to fight against the New York Times’ 1619 Project by attempting to withhold federal funds from the educator who used that document while teaching America history. That was far from uppity; it was downright racist.
Let’s drill down on uppity. Taking liberties and assuming airs beyond one’s place in a social hierarchy might be seen as uppity, but the roots of that word are despicable. It’s a purely American term first used by Blacks to describe other Blacks who were too self-assertive. Some claim the first recorded use was by Uncle Remus, the narrator of a collection of African American folktales compiled and adapted by Joel Chandler Harris and published in book form in 1881. So, like the “N-word” and “Uncle Tom,” “uppity” was used by Black people to describe each other but took on a deeply racist tone when used by white people.
Those states having a Donald Trump sycophant in charge make laws that forbid their educational systems of teaching a disturbing, yet absolutely truthful, view of American history as it applies to race. Here are two disturbing quotes. Florida Governor DeSantis says that teachers should not be “indoctrinating kids with fad-ish ideologies” while Richard Corcoran, the Commissioner of the Florida Board of Education, brags, “I was able to censor teachers” who he claimed had displayed Black Lives Matter posters in their classrooms to help kids understand the meaning of the phrase.
When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, lots of white people chanted “We want to take our country back.” That’s a great slogan for Native Americans who numbered more than 60 million in 1492 but are down to about one million today. They never got a chance to take their country back. What did they get? They got reservations, the right to run gambling casinos and licenses to sell cancer sticks. We continue to teach a distorted history of Native Americans that the tribes have been protesting for years.
There is a systemic whitewashing (pun intended) that takes place in this country every day. By the way, it’s not just Black and Tribal history that get changed but there are also manipulations of other aspects of our past. Insanely, we lie about the origin of baseball. The Doubleday myth claims the game was invented in America, while it actually was inspired by a children’s game in the U.K. named “rounders.”
The 1905 Mills Commission was formed to get to the bottom of the sport. The nations’ ego needed baseball to be a game purely of American origin. In 1908, the commission declared that baseball had zero connection to the game from Britain and that it was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, which is the location of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Problem is that was all a lie.
Even back then, “far-left” newspaper writers chased the truth. The “rounders theory” was supported by prominent sportswriter Henry Chadwick, a native of Britain. In a 1903 article he noted the common factors between rounders and baseball, which initiated the need to put a stop to this “British propaganda.” The truth is baseball is so similar to rounders it was an embarrassment that grown men in America were playing it for money. So, there’s but one example of an untrue myth totally sanctioned by the US government and perpetrated on the public.
America is often full of shit. We had the Attorney General William Barr telling us there is no systemic racism in American law enforcement, while his very own Department of Justice was investigating many police departments across the country for that very cancer. We have a disgraced, deranged and diabolical former president claiming that Democrats hate America and want to poison the minds of our kids with negative history about how the country was founded and grew. The New York Times is correct. American history began in 1619, the year the first slave was brought to this land to form a more perfect economy.
The Republican zealots in the Senate voted down the January 6th Commission because they want to change history about what happened that day. When the headline in the newspaper declares LESSONS ON RACIAL HISTORY UNDER FIRE, some white politicians want to blatantly say, “Nothing to see here. Move along.” They are afraid of Doanld Trump, they are afraid of the truth, and they are afraid of history. They worry that African Americans will start to become “uppity” if we teach the truth of our racist past. By fighting against these truths, they show their belief that Black people are beneath them and must occupy a lower place in our social hierarchy. They want to not only teach lies but also assign an entire race of people to a lower rung on the hierarchy ladder.
I don’t want an idiot like Ron DeSantis determining what my grandkids are taught in school and I don’t need ideologs determining the meanings of the first and second amendments. These people go after social media companies who have cancelled policy offenders like Donald Trump while also censoring teachers. There’s no logic. It’s simply a matter of do as I say and not do as I do.
These fools want to do is strike the word “lynching” from our history. They would like to believe the May 31, 1921 Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma never happened. If they had their way, the term “Jim Crow Laws” would not be in our textbooks. But in the end, kids of all colors will learn from the streets, from rap songs, from documentaries and from movies. The truth will eventually win and when it does, it’s merely being aggressive against hate, and not being “uppity,” at all.