Proposed OK Bill To Ban Race Theory Teachings

HB 1775 is now in the hands of Governor Stitt. The bill represents a larger, national backlash in response to a year of intense American racial reckoning. 

If signed, the bill would:

  • Forbid mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling at Institutes of Higher Education in Oklahoma 
  • Prohibit the teaching of the following concepts:
    • an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously - (a key idea in discussion of implicit bias
    • an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex  - (a concept tied to reparations
    • meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race

Through these measures, the bill will ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools. 

Critical Race Theory (CRT) formalized in the late 1980s. Some of its core tenets are that racism is a fundamental part of American society; that U.S. legal institutions are inherently racist and function to create and maintain racial inequality; and that race is a socially constructed category. Since its beginnings, CRT has influenced many academic fields including legal studies, gender and sexuality studies, education, and sociology. 

Outlawing the use of CRT in curriculum would put serious limitations on the way educators teach and discuss race and gender in public schools. 

The bill cleverly couches these restrictions in the language of diversity, by stipulating, among other agreeable points, that educators should not teach that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.” 

But these points are made to mask the larger motive of a bill that pushes color-blindness over real, if uncomfortable, classroom-based investigation of racism in the United States. 

The real motivations of the bill should be subject to scrutiny, especially following its discussion when Rep. Justin Humphrey compared Black Lives Matter to the KKK, saying they had the qualities of a terrorist organization. Rep. Humphrey’s statement represents a sentiment shared by many members of the republican party: a fear of reverse racism

Given this fear, the stipulation preventing the teaching of racial or sex-based superiority seems to stem not from a desire to protect minorities in the classroom, but to protect white students from delving into White America’s less-than-wholesome history—a history in which White Americans have long thought themselves a superior race, and acted (devastatingly) accordingly. 

This Oklahoma bill comes in 2021, the Centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The Tulsa Race Massacre Commission urged Governor Stitt to veto the bill. 

If Governor Stitt does not veto this bill, it could go into effect immediately. 

You can urge him to veto HB 1775 by calling (405) 521-2342.