Cultural Storm Clouds Gathering

May 18, 2021

On the one hand, you have the liberal leadership of UNC-Chapel Hill recently announcing the hiring of activist New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones to head a program in the university’s journalism school.

Ms. Hannah-Jones is known for covering civil rights and racial injustice for the Times, and for introducing the newspaper’s “The 1619 Project” for which she won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.  Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project has been roundly criticized by real historians for her characterization of slavery’s importance in the American fight for independence.

The Heritage Foundation has reported that since the 1619 Project’s unveiling, 4500 classrooms across the country have embraced it as a curriculum with “tens of thousands of students in all 50 states engaged with the curricular resources, which include reading guides, lesson plans, and extension activities.  Integral in the 1619 Project’s tenets – the Critical Race Theory.

Now, on the other hand, you have the NC House last week passing legislation, 65-48, that prohibits NC school districts from promoting discriminatory concepts like Critical Race Theory.  HB 324 reads:

“Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools,” would prevent students or teachers from being taught that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex, or that any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.

North Carolina’s first Black Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, was quoted in NC House release as supporting the legislation, saying:

“North Carolina’s school children should be taught how to think – not what to think…. Radical leftists complain that this legislation is ‘white-washing history’ and ‘academic apartheid.’ Students should absolutely learn the horrific facts associated with slavery, Jim Crow, and other dark times in our nation’s history. They should not, however, be subjected to pseudo-science social justice initiatives like the ‘1619 Project’ and ‘Critical Race Theory,’ which seek to divide us along racial lines and teach that the systems of our Republic and the history of our great American experiment are shameful.

Robinson added, “Our children, regardless of their background, should know that it is their shared and diverse experiences that make America great, and learning about those experiences should bring them together – not drive them apart. This legislation ensures that our students will be taught that we all have value, regardless of who we are – or who our ancestors were.”

The legislation now goes to the NC Senate for further consideration.

It isn’t hard to see that a culture clash is brewing in our education system. NC teachers and education leadership prepped to sell the Critical Race Theory mantra – stymied by the Legislature.  While liberal professors all across the UNC system, led by their guru, Nikole Hannah-Jones, press forward with their Critical Race Theory message at every opportunity.  What happens when teachers educated at our universities go to teach in our primary and secondary schools?

More questions arise:

  1. If this legislation passes through the NC General Assembly, what does Governor Roy Cooper do. Veto?
  2. Is the next step for the General Assembly to address the next level of education paid for by NC taxpayers – our university system and pass the same legislation for them?
  3. And if they pass the same legislation for the UNC system as they did for NC’s school districts, what will Nikole Hannah-Jones do? If you take the 1619 Project and its Critical Race Theory principles away from her message, will teaching journalism students how to survive in a non-newspaper, fake-news world be enough to keep her happy?

Certainly there are more questions, but that seems to be enough for now.