Markowitz, McSharry: Scare Tactics, Here we go again

Submitted by Mary Ellen Markowitz and Hale McSharry, Greenwich

Have you have seen the signs some “patriots” have placed all over town encouraging Greenwich residents to “stand up”? This ultra-conservative campaign rails against teaching American history, plain and simple. What’s next? Book burning?

As a result of the Black Lives Matter Movement, some of these hard truths were brought to light. If we do not continue the work of understanding how past injustices led us to where we are today, this inequitable system will continue to divide us. By nature, children are resilient. They can handle the truth. It is through learning history and
engaging with diverse ideas that compassion and empathy develop. Both those traits need to be awakened in our students if we are going to move forward with kindness, decency and respect for all. Keeping our students ignorant of the past will only handicap them as they enter the real world where they have to work with and understand a more diverse population. Our children are our future.

One year ago, the brutal murder of George Floyd spurred a national reckoning. Hundreds of Greenwich residents gathered on the grounds of Town Hall in solidarity with victims of racism to say, “enough is enough.” Even the most conservative among us were willing to admit this violence is not right. However, there are still those who are railing against teaching history by labeling what they don’t want to admit happened as “Critical Race Theory.”

What they really oppose is any education about racism and its effects. Greenwich Voices for Democracy would like to pose the question: What kind of education is an American child receiving if he or she is prohibited from learning about the legacy of slavery, the displacement of Native Americans, or the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II? Why should the Tulsa massacre be left out of the history books? How will students understand racial wealth and health disparities if they never learn about red-lining, Jim Crow Laws, and restrictive covenants? It is only through knowing our past and developing the essential human traits of empathy that the important work of justice for all will be continued.

It is time to stop the hysteria, stop trying to micromanage school curricula, and stop trying to build a wall around Greenwich. Let our children get the education they need to live and compete in the world of the 21st century.