The Movement to Erase Black History and Culture
February 3, 2022
February marks Black History Month, a time to recognize the significant achievements and culture of Black Americans–from bell hooks to Beyonce–and also to honor an accurate history about them, a history that we know is rife with discrimination and abuse — think: slavery, Jim Crow, and the structural racism we’re still infected with today. Sadly, more and more, this history is being challenged and even erased in our culture and, right now, in our schools, through tactics like curriculum restrictions and book bans. Truths we once considered hard but self-evident are now being erased before our eyes.
Over 30 state legislatures across the country have introduced bills to limit the discussion of racial history in a wave prompted by the emergence of critical race theory as a subject of political fear-mongering. But that’s just the beginning:, over 300 books by predominantly Black authors discussing race, gender, and sexuality, were also banned in the last year alone. Yes, you heard me right. We’re banning books again.
When your history is banned, how do you learn about your ancestors? How do we learn from what’s happened in the past and how it affects our present? When your culture is banned, how do you see yourself? How do you belong? How do you celebrate the stories, music, food, and family that made you?
At the ACLU, we believe that the first amendment is so fundamental because it should stop this kind of erasure in its tracks. That’s why we’re meeting this surge of censorship with new litigation and fierce advocacy.
Joining us today to share more is Emerson Sykes, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and longtime listeners will remember Emerson as one of At Liberty’s former hosts.