On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, the North Dakota House of Representatives approved a bill (HB 1508) to ban the teaching of “critical race theory,” which the bill explains as teaching that racism was ever systemic in the laws of our country (and instead was always merely individual prejudice). Does this mean that North Dakota students can’t be taught that Private John Elk, one of the Native Americans from North Dakota who served in WWI, was not given the full rights of a US citizen until 1924? Does this mean that North Dakota students can’t be taught about the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which became one of the most decorated unit of WWII even as their soldiers (U.S. citizens of Japanese descent) had family members being held by the U.S. government in internment camps? Does that mean that North Dakota students can’t be taught the story the Bismarck Tribune posted online on the very same day as this vote, about current efforts to rectify the denial of GI Bill benefits (such as mortgage assistance or educational funding) to thousands of African American veterans after they returned from service in WWII?
Looking at history allows people to see how previous events impact the country even now, but learning only an incomplete version of history makes us less capable of moving forward and forming a more perfect Union. That is why HB 1508 does a disservice to our entire state.
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Anita Casey-Reed, Bismarck