(USA Features) Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday signed legislation banning the teaching of a highly controversial curriculum called “Critical Race Theory” that critics say teaches students to distrust and even hate others based on skin color.
“Now more than ever we need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart,” Stitt, a Republican, said in a video posted on Twitter. “I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”
Critics of the theory believe it pushes quasi-Marxist philosophy which holds that racism is ‘systemic’ in the U.S. and ingrained in all of the country’s institutions.
In addition, the curriculum labels whites as being oppressors who have an inherent advantage over other ethnic groups, and as such, they should feel guilty over their “privilege.”
The legislation Stitt signed does not mention Critical Race Theory by name. However, it bars teaching concepts considered racist and sexist, including the notions that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Also, the legislation prohibits instruction that promotes the idea that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex” or that “members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.”
“Nothing in this bill prevents or discourages those conversations,” Stitt said in his video. “We can and should teach this history without labeling a young child as an oppressor, or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex.”
The legislation specifically bans the teaching of “racist” concepts, but opponents of the bill nevertheless called it racist.
“This past week, the Oklahoma State Legislature passed HB 1775, an outright racist and oppressive piece of legislation. As a mom, community member, and the Chair of the OKCPS Board of Education, I am appalled at the flagrant, attempt to erase factual, incomprehensible history that has occurred in the United States,” Paula Lewis, chair of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board, wrote on Twitter.
“Our history as a country and as a state, if told accurately, is uncomfortable and should be heartbreaking for Americans that look like me, white,” Lewis added.
“The only way forward as a country and as a state, is for all of us to have hard, uncomfortable conversations—to acknowledge the truth, apologize for actions that stemmed from not knowing, and do all that we can, both individually and collectively to atone for our actions that have contributed to the oppression of our African-American, Hispanic, Indigenous and other people of color, brothers and sisters!” she said.