Kentucky students rally in Frankfort against anti-CRT bills

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Jan 11, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Several states have passed laws banning or limiting critical race theory from being taught in schools. Some teachers and students worry Kentucky could be next.

Lawmakers have filed two bills - House Bill 14 and House Bill 18 - which are being called the anti-CRT bills. They would ban teachers from talking about race in a way that could make anyone uncomfortable.

So, rallies are being held against the bills.

On Tuesday, a group of students called Mighty Shades of Ebony performed at the Capitol annex.

"Overlook our culture - that's a microaggression," the group sang.

The students said that banning teachers and students from having uncomfortable talks about race is whitewashing history.

"The problem with HB 14 and 18 is: it gives a sugarcoated way of history," said 9th grader Malachi Ibn-Mohammed. "And I'm sorry to tell you but history is not going to be pretty all the time. Sometimes, it's going to be ugly. Sometimes, it's going to be hard to say. But you have to tell the truth and you have to tell the whole truth."

Students also voiced their concern about having black history and other marginalized groups' history ignored.

"I don't want my history to be erased because it might make the girl sitting across from me in my predominately white school uncomfortable," said 10th grader Genesis Hatchett.

"If you're going to send us to school for seven to eight hours a day just to lie to us - what is the point of even going?" added Alesha Thorn, a 9th grader.

Students said Kentucky's curriculum already is taught from the perspective of white men. They asked: where does that leave everyone else?

"I knew about Abraham Lincoln. I knew about George Washington. I knew about 1776. I already knew about the Revolutionary War," said Ibn-Mohammed. "But where was I in history? Where did I see myself represented in history?"

Some Kentucky teachers have already said they're going to continue talking about race, even if the bills become law. They say the efforts to make them stop are equivalent to bullying.

"They want to put their bullying policies into effect by continuing to exclude the many histories of black folks and other marginalized communities," said JCPS teacher Kumar Rashad.

When the bills first emerged in the summer of 2021, LEX 18 tried to ask one of the lawmakers involved about the reasons behind the bills.

At the time, Rep. Joe Fischer declined to answer our questions.

"I have another meeting I have to get to," he said as LEX 18 tried to get answers. "I think I issued a press release. You can refer to that."

In the press release, Fischer said "critical race theory is not based on facts or evidence but rather serves as a dangerous diversion from education priorities that are actually proven to eliminate disparities."

“It is a powerful tool for those who seek to divide us into categories and destroy the very institutions that have seen generations of Americans of all races and backgrounds build successful futures," he added.

So far, neither HB 14 nor HB 18 have moved forward in the legislative process. However, critics of the bills are still planning to rally against them again on Wednesday.