In a poor attempt to spark a dialogue, CBS News ran a story essentially asking when young children should learn about race. Several Twitter users responded with accounts of being called the n-word as young children — an example is that children are bringing racism into the classroom — they clearly aren’t too young to be taught about race.
Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King, said racism and white supremacy took her father away when she was only five years old. She and her siblings learned lessons of race the hard way but knew them nonetheless.
Original Star Trek cast member George Takei, who is Japanese, tweeted that he was 5 when U.S. officials placed his family in an internment camp.
Some may think, well, that’s just a bad headline, but the story itself operates from a dishonest framing about the current state of education and matters of race. Framing the concern over the “culture war” that has erupted in schools, CBS News misses the mark for an important question. Reducing the disinformation spread about equity in public schools to a simple “culture war” further exemplifies the problem with the reporting.
Highlighting a passage from the article, Brittani Warrick shared their experience being called the n-word in second grade, saying it was “too heavy.”
The article also platforms groups like the right-wing Moms for Liberty. The group is one of the many groups formed as a part of a coordinated attempt to leverage the fear of critical race theory to undermine equity, diversity, and increased parity in public education.
The media’s continued failure to discern the difference between genuinely concerned parents and the political agenda bent on destroying years of equality is sad but not surprising. It also shows a media landscape wholly unprepared for race conversations and the fundamental need to divest from white supremacy.
Most of these stories center on white parents spouting ridiculous theories about things not taking place in the average school. Generally, when a Black or other parent of color is featured, they repeat similar right-wing talking points. Coverage of a lawsuit against a Massachusetts district has focused on the white conservative group from D.C. suing over safe spaces for Asian students. Few outlets have reached out to the Asian parents of students given space to process the trauma after murders in Atlanta and the rise of anti-Asian hate attacks.
There is a lot of concern for children (read as white children) being exposed to conversations of race, but where is the concern for the various instances of racism that befall Black and other children of color at a young age. From teachers and racist lessons to classmates running mock auctions in private groups, Black and other children of color are harmed on multiple fronts.