Recently, our local paper had an article detailing a letter some concerned community members sent to the school district.
They don’t like a “Black Lives Matter” banner hanging on the tennis court in front of the high school. Under the words “Black Lives Matter,” the banner reads, “Vision: Every student is a lifelong learner who is multi-culturally engaged, literate, and an active community member able to meet the challenges of our global society.”
The letter writers wrote, “Many are alarmed the district proudly supports a Marxist, anti-family, violent organization, BLM.” The district pointed out, “Black Lives Matter has been determined by the Federal Office of Special Counsel to be non-partisan and non-political, and in keeping with the mission and visions statements of the school district.”
It is not the first time community members have demanded removing this banner they see as violent and anti-family. Whereas each time I drive by it, I see the exact opposite. I see hope maybe my family and families like mine are welcome and safe here. I see a sign calling us to value people of color’s humanity, not at the expense of white people, for our value has never been up for debate.
The second concern raised is they felt students in a high school history class were getting influenced into a particular political belief. Apparently, a day after the capital insurrection, the teacher said, then-president Trump had lied.
The article quotes one of the letter writers as saying, “I believe when appropriate, a political discussion can be educational in the classroom as they allow students to develop their critical thinking skills and express themselves in a mature manner. Those debates, however, should only voice the sociopolitical opinions of the students, not teachers. It is not a public school teacher’s job to indoctrinate students with their own personal beliefs.” A school board member responded, ” teachers are instructed to stick to the facts.” I wonder if we can even agree on what “the facts” are? Some say it is a fact; then-president Trump lied.
The sentence, “It is not a public school teacher’s job to indoctrinate,” jumped out at me. Indoctrination defined as “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”
Is indoctrinate a fancy word for a lie?
If so, I was indoctrinated in the Mormon church, public schools, and society at large. I trusted and accepted, without question, what I was taught. That indoctrination led me to have a warped view which, at age fifty-five, I am unlearning. I am unlearning lies and half-truths taught to me as facts. Those lies and half-truths are, in part, what allowed racism to find refuge in me.
Here are a few in a long list of lies and half-truths taught as fact.
I was taught Mormon prophets speak the will of God perfectly.
I was taught dark skin was a curse.
I was taught Thomas Jefferson was a patriotic hero.
I was taught Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator.
These are not entirely factual or truthful.
Mormon prophets are fallible men with biases.
Dark skin is not a sign of less righteousness. It is melanin.
Thomas Jefferson was invested in keeping slavery in place.
Abraham Lincoln did not want social and political rights for blacks.
This cake, called America, was not baked with ingredients like universal kindness, respect, and justice. I believe it is possible to bake a new cake, but first, we must throw out the old.
I prefer to live in a world where God is not used to demean anyone’s humanity. Until then, I hope we are brave enough to question those speaking for him.
I prefer to live in a world where we all agree on facts. Until then, I hope teachers continue to teach students what my teachers never taught me.
I prefer we live in a world where Black Lives Matter signs are not needed. Until then, I hope the banner continues to fly.