Is the Buffalo Massacre a prohibited class subject? | New

There is no doubt that the shooting earlier this month by a white teenager in a Buffalo supermarket was racially motivated.

What’s unclear, however, is whether legislation slated for debate in the Senate as early as next week would prevent Arizona public school students from being told the shooter was targeting victims specifically because they were black.

“I don’t know whether or not that would be an appropriate conversation in those classrooms,” Rep. Michelle Udall said during the HB 1412 debate last week.

But the Mesa Republican said she thinks there’s enough wiggle room in the language of her bill to allow discussion within limits.

“That language says they can’t promote to defend, blame or judge race or ethnicity,” she said. “I hope a teacher isn’t in the classroom promoting or advocating for students to judge based on race, as was done in that shooting.”

“I’m pretty sure teachers know how to teach about race and race relations without blaming or saying one race is morally superior to another,” she said. “And if you can’t do that, you really shouldn’t be teaching.”

Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, said it wasn’t that simple. She wondered how it is possible to teach history accurately without crossing a line that could actually result in the loss of a teacher’s state certification.

“Our history is full of systems that have been based on one race thinking they are above the rest,” Jermaine said she saw him through the eyes of being a descendant of someone who survived the Indian boarding school system which resulted in death. and the abuse of many Native American children.

“The whole system is built on race and gender and the targeting of minority populations,” she said.

Rep. Mitzi Epstein, D-Tempe, acknowledged that the language of SB 1412 specifically says teachers and guest speakers can discuss past examples of racial hatred or discrimination, including slavery, Indian removal , Japanese-American internment and the Holocaust. But she said none of that mattered with the borders in measurement.

“We can’t ask our children to recognize a problem and we can’t ask them to recognize wrong if we don’t teach them that something is wrong,” Epstein said. And she specifically asked how a Nazi death camp survivor speaking to college students could convey his experience without saying he was being targeted because he was Jewish.

At the heart of the debate is whether SB 1412 is merely a safeguard against — as Udall says — students aren’t indoctrinated to see everything through the prism of racism or — as some Democrats see it — an attempt by the majority Republican to clean up the nation. often turbulent history of race relations.

At first glance, what now awaits Senate action is relatively simple.

It prohibits teachers from promoting or defending the concept that blame or judgment can be assigned based on race or ethnicity. It would also prohibit teaching that any race or ethnicity is morally or intellectually superior to another, that individuals bear responsibility for the actions of others of the same race, and that any race or ethnicity is inherently oppressive, that it either conscious or unconscious.

House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, however, feared the law could be used to stifle legitimate discussion.

Consider, he said, a discussion of the Fair Housing Act, the 1968 federal law designed to prevent discrimination in people’s ability to buy and rent homes and apartments.

“A student might ask, ‘Why?’ or ‘How,” he says. And that’s where you start to have a deeper discussion about why a federal law was needed in the first place.

Udall, however, insisted that the facts can be told without giving them a racial twist.

Her example of where lessons cross the line goes to an essay used in a seventh-grade English class in Chandler called “Black Men in Public Places,” told from that person’s perspective.

It’s about a 6-foot-2 black man walking at night in a military-style jacket with his hands in his pockets.

“A woman walking around got scared and tried to put some distance between them,” she said.

“He credits it with being racist,” Udall said. “I think it’s absurd.”

Udall said she is a woman who walks or runs at night.

“If there’s a big guy around me, I’m going to run away from him,” she said. “I’m going

walk away because you have to be careful when you walk alone

the night.”

Yet in an interview, Udall acknowledged that it is not a race-neutral society.

Think about traffic stops.

“You see minorities being arrested more often and in more minor situations being arrested or ticketed or charged,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s just white police actually.”

And that, Udall said, proves his view that not everything can be considered a racist act.

“It’s not the police officers’ skin color that’s a problem,” she said. “It’s their actions that are a problem.”

Some of the enemies’ concerns seem to have less to do with what SB 1412 would prohibit than with what its effect would be.

It starts with the fact that any parent or even student can file a complaint that automatically triggers a school district-level investigation, but with the potential that it goes to the state Board of Education where a teacher could lose. its state certification. .

And Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, D-Tucson, said he could imagine situations where some lawmakers would get voters “pissed off” over issues and “make more noise.”

“So what you’re going to see is a

avalanche of complaints based on “sensations”, he said.

And it’s not just teachers who could be in trouble. Schools that allow prohibited behavior are subject to fines of $5,000 a day, which Rep. Andres Cano, D-Tucson says, “will subject our public school educators to bullying, harassment.”

And Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Paradise Valley, said it will have an effect on what students learn.

“I’m just afraid it will create a situation in classrooms where teachers are just scared to teach anything,” she said, saying only threats to decide badly – including loss license – will have a “chilling effect”. ‘

But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said it wasn’t SB 1412’s fault.

“If there’s a chilling effect on teachers, it’s not because of what the bill says,” he said.

‘It’s because of the way the bill is twisted,’ Kavanagh continued, saying all it excludes is the defense or promotion of ‘seven vile racist actions’, such as some people being inherently superior. because of their race.

Jessica C. Bell