This post originally appeared on Hope and Outrage from Tanesha Peeples on July 15.
Y’all, are they still teaching Greek mythology in schools? Interestingly, it used to be one of my favorite subjects in grammar school. Now, in retrospect—and with an abolitionist mind—I realize it was just another subject taking up space that could’ve been used to teach real history. But, it’s also come in handy in thinking about the political strategy being used to oppress Black people. Here’s where this randomness came from.
The other night, I was battling insomnia and started thinking about how this critical race theory fight is similar to the horse used in the Trojan War. Right here is where some of y’all might ask, “Damn, Tanesha—why are you thinking about critical race theory when you’re supposed to be getting your beauty rest?” Well, this is the life of a Black activist and probably most Black people—we lie awake at night worried about the shit we have to fight on the next day and the day after while our oppressors sleep soundly in their privilege. So there you have it.
Back to this Trojan horse thing … If you’re not familiar with the story of the Trojan War, the Greeks and Trojans had been fighting for like 10 years. The Greeks then thought of this plan to trick the Trojans into believing they’d withdrawn from the war, and built and left this gigantic ass wooden horse as a so-called peace offering at the Trojan city gates. When the Trojans finally hauled the horse’s ass into the city, gangs of Greeks piled out of it—kinda like how Trump’s band of Duck Dynasty misfits raided D.C. in the January insurrection—and got to whooping the Trojans’ asses.
At three o’clock in the morning, I’m having these random thoughts and it occurred to me that this is the same kinda trickery and war games happening right now.
See, we Black people are the Greeks. Ever since we applied pressure in the George Floyd uprisings, a Black woman was elected vice president and Juneteenth was declared a national holiday, some of us have been cautiously optimistic that a truce was finally coming in our 402-year-long war with the United States.
But boom, waiting to infiltrate more statehouses across the country are Trojan horses with “white supremacy” tatted on their lower backs like a tramp-stamp, filled with gatekeepers (the Trojans) looking to wage assaults on critical race theory, voting rights and whatever other truths and liberties they can strip away and officially send this country back into the Jim Crow era.
Black people, this is exactly why we have to fight. And not necessarily for critical race theory itself because, low key, that’s just the boogeyman term the oppressors are using to rally more Duck Dynasty troops. We have to fight for the teaching and learning of true history.
WE HAVE TO FIGHT FOR THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF TRUE HISTORY.
While Greek mythology is exactly what it says it is—mythical—we have real-life examples of activism and impact in our Black American history that will teach and embolden us. This is what they’re fighting to suppress.
They want to use education to continue to push this idea and duty of patriotism by giving white kids false idols in Civil War tyrants and other historical leaders who sought to keep Black people enslaved and oppressed. And they want Black kids generations from now to live in subservience. This was evident in an effort to rewrite the history of the Civil War in some throwback donkey doo-doo movement led by racists called The Lost Cause.
This really blew my mind. In 1954, a textbook called Georgia History was published and authorized to be taught in middle schools across the state to make kids think plantations were basically a day party spot for slaves. One excerpt said, “…The master often had barbecue or a picnic for his slaves. Then they had a great frolic. Even while working in the cotton fields they sang songs…”
The writing’s on the wall, y’all—and in history.
And at the very least, as our great brother el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz on-pointedly stated in this 1965 CBC interview, the guardians of white supremacy are using anti-critical race theory arguments to project their shame on those who they’ve victimized and to dismiss notions of racism against Black people in America.
Aye, I’ve said a few times that I wish all Black parents and guardians would just snatch their kids out of the public school system and flip it on its head but, I know it won’t happen like that. So here’s what we need to do.
We absolutely need to organize and push back against these history bans while also recognizing that our capacity is limited due to fighting a thousand other things. So instead of forming whole organizations like some of these white people have, we’re going to go around the system and work our lanes to make sure our kids are learning what they need to know.
Co-conspiring educators and administrators, y’all have to creatively implement revolutionary and relevant curricula, practice abolitionist teaching and encourage radical conversations in classrooms. Activists, we have to reimagine Freedom Schools in grassroots operations. Yes, it’s our job to fight the machine but it’s also our responsibility to pass the baton to our youth when we’re no longer able to run the distance. Parents, match the energy of these people out here trying to dictate what your kids can and cannot learn in schools. Because even if you may have missed out on a quality education, they need and deserve one to change the landscape for Black people in America.
At the end of the day, the questions we need to ask ourselves are, do we want them to just keep teaching our kids Greek “mythology,” where they have to dig deep to decode strategies of war and never see any heroic representations of themselves? Or do we want them to learn our history, where they’re enlightened with and inspired by real-life liberation strategies? I think we know the answer.
And just because we’ve already let the GP’s (garbage politicians) in the door, it doesn’t mean we can’t stop them and the Duck Dynasty gangs with their Klansmen-hooded Trojan horses from getting into our communities.
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