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As someone who who cares deeply about history and is an advocate of educational excellence for children this story made my skin crawl.

I fully realize that school districts make all kind of personnel decisions based on reasons-often petty-other than the best educational outcome. The African-American teacher of Black History was assigned a different schedule for reasons unknown to the public – perhaps at that teacher’s request, perhaps not and parents in that community may be reacting to what has been heard from the grapevine. Nevertheless, the argument of the parents that their children can only learn their history from a teacher of the same race as themselves is in principle a denial of the discipline of history itself.It is also an argument that would never be made about physics or math;by that logic, none of us could possibly understand archaeology because none of us are ancient Egyptians.

Morally, this claim is troublesome because it speaks to the poisonous idea of inherently racial knowledge, unkowable by outsiders, a tool of exclusion and a barrier to greater understanding and empathy. The study of history asks ” why ? “, it puts the student in the shoes of another and makes them walk a mile. With “racial knowledge”, your shoes couldn’t possibly fit my feet so why bother trying them on ?

These parents are not hostile or ill-intentioned – they are scared that their children might have to try on something different than the same old shoes. It’s a plea for comfortable ignorance and it should be roundly rejected.

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