EDITORIAL NOTE: Uncover KC highly encourages civic discourse and to that end, welcome editorial submissions. However, the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by authors and forum participants on this website do not necessarily reflect those of Uncover KC.
This spring, a group of students at Liberty High School walked out in protest against two bills currently in the Missouri General Assembly: Bill 781, which would prohibit male athletes from using female locker rooms, and Bill 1474, which would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in school curriculums.
The students are right to argue that these bills are anti-trans and racist, and we respect their right to speak out and engage in peaceful assembly.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. At some local high schools, for example in Park Hill and Olathe, there have been reports of racism in the classroom. And the current political climate in our country has manifested itself as a politicization of high school curriculums.
Critical race theory, which originated as a legal theory and is typically taught in law schools and not high school classrooms, has been bastardized by its opponents as a catch-all theory about race that attempts to downplay European culture and supposedly shames white students by making them feel guilty about the racial divides in this country.
We Need To take the central lesson of critical race theory seriously.
Racism has to be understood systematically, from the point of view of not only individuals, but society. Systematic racism can be difficult to discover as its traces can be found throughout our customs, media, economy, and social institutions.
I believe when we work with volunteers and vulnerable communities, we always have to be aware that certain institutions and laws have historically disenfranchised minority populations, like black people, indigenous people, and other people of color, or the LGBTQ+ community.
In order to help people, I think we have to understand the racial and gender biases in our institutions, government, and social services.
How You Can Make Impact
I feel it is important that the voices of these students aren’t silenced. Education is important, and we shouldn’t shy away from learning about our shared past: about the harsh realities of slavery and the continuing legacy of the Jim Crow South. It is important that all genders are respected and that trans-athletes are treated with dignity.
I encourage you to stay up to date with the recent events going on in our schools, and I also encourage you to learn more about the history of the racist institutions in our country.
One local source of information is kansascitydefender.com (also on instagram: @kansascitydefender). Lastly, below are some reading suggestions about systematic racism to expand your cultural competency and learn more about the diversity and history of Kansas City.
Suggested readings that can be found at the BLK + BRWN bookstore:
- Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. 2012. The New Press.
- Griffin, G. S. Racism in Kansas City: A short history. 2015. Chandler Lake Books.
- Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped From the Beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America. 2016. Bold Type Books.
Need additional support for a community cause or concern? UKC may be able to help or provide additional resources. Schedule a consultation with us to learn how.