NH 'Divisive Concepts' Law Stifles Lessons During Black History Month
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
The state's "divisive concepts" law is preventing educators from holding rational discussions about race relations in America, New Hampshire civil rights leaders said. February is Black History Month, a dedicated time for students to learn about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans despite systemic racism.
James McKim, president of the Manchester chapter of the NAACP of Manchester said the law has caused educators to fear reprisals for even mentioning the word "race" in their classrooms.
"This is the true history of our country that we need to be teaching and the history of how Black people, African Americans, have contributed is a part of that history," Kim said.
Supporters of the law say it merely prevents the teaching of discrimination but educators say they have received little guidance from the Department of Education on what they can teach.
Public opposition to the "divisive concepts" law remains high and legislation has been introduced to repeal it. Civil rights leaders say the law has emboldened New Hampshire's growing number of white-supremacist groups.
Grace Kindeke, program coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, said the original divisive concepts bill was always meant to divide communities.
"So, we've created an environment where hate is able to flourish, and despite what the bill claims that it does, what it actually does is it really helps to nourish that kind of hateful environment," Kindeke said.
Kindeke added communities grow stronger when they are honest about the impacts of white supremacy and where it manifests in state policies and institutions.
Honest classroom discussion about the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is what led Ronelle Tshiela of Black Lives Matter Manchester to attend law school. She worries the "divisive concepts" law will stifle those same discussions today.
"That is very disheartening to me," she said. "And it also worries me because when you don't have conversations like this it leads people to repeat the same behaviors."
Tshiela said educators should not have to fear facilitating tough conversations in the classroom, but those fears may be short-lived. The U.S. District Court of New Hampshire recently ruled in favor of allowing a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of New Hampshire and teachers' unions against the "divisive concepts" law to move forward.
get more stories like this via email
Programs intended to reduce the chances that someone will end up back behind bars are working, according to a new analysis of California state data…
Arizona is gearing up for its presidential preference election that takes place in less than a month, and registered Democrats and Republicans were …
You might say "every day is 'bring your child to college day'" at New Hampshire's Manchester Community College. On-campus childcare programs are …
By Elizabeth Ouzts for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Shanteya Hudson for North Carolina News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism…
The number of Black mothers in Ohio who die during or following pregnancy continues to climb and health advocates said they hope to shine a light on t…
It's been an uphill battle for childhood nutrition advocates to advance meal access policies in the South Dakota Legislature. However, organizers say …
A cooperative effort has seeded more than 26,000 acres in eastern Nevada. It's all in an effort to increase desirable grasses, forbs and shrubs while …
Texas postal customers, especially in rural areas, are experiencing delays in mail delivery, and some letter carriers feel it could get worse…