• Ric Galvan • Knowledge is Power • September 2, 2021 •

Editor’s Note: During its two special sessions, the Texas Legislature considered proposals House Bill 28 and Senate Bill 3 as companions to the classroom censorship (HB 3979) measure that was passed in the spring.

I am a student at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in history. And I am the central Texas campus organizer of Texas Rising, but I am here representing myself in opposition to HB 28.

As a recent public school student in San Antonio, I graduated three years ago. I want to make clear, I never even heard of critical race theory once in school. And – I’m not knocking my teachers, they are fabulous teachers, especially my favorite social studies teachers – but, in all my life in public school here in Texas, I hardly ever heard any history that represented myself or people who look like me or like some of my other Black and Brown friends in my classes. I hardly heard of the Chicano Movement. I hardly heard of Juan Crow. Jim Crow was mentioned, and Reconstruction was barely discussed. All these are important to our history. And yet, I was taught a limited history.

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And so, when I see bills like this, I get fired up, not just because I grew up with educators or because I care about education so much, but because I know what it’s like to not learn the full history of ourselves, of our state, of our community. And to make it even more restricted just doesn’t make sense to me. To hide things that are important, that shape not only our current society but also our political structures and economic structures, to me is abhorrent.

To see bills like this, and say, “Well, let’s just hide all the history that’s really important about how we’ve founded this country and how we founded these governing institutions,” I believe is wrong. I don’t think, of course, we should dictate what teachers say, but I think it’s important that we give some guidelines that say clearly, “Let’s talk about the entire history of how our government was created, including that slavery was etched into our Constitution, both federal and state, even the current one we still have that we use today here in Texas, was written by proudly self-proclaimed white supremacists called Redeemers.”

I think that’s just important for us, contextually, to understand how we navigate these spaces, especially for someone like me, who is visibly Brown and has to understand that these systems that we use weren’t built for me. And that if we’re going to progress forward, we need to understand that fully and see if we can truly adjust it beyond just simple civil rights bills that say this is enough.

[©2021, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2021, edition of Knowledge is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]