We are continuing to monitor bills such as Alabama House Bill 7 which seeks to prohibit the “promotion, endorsement, affirmation of certain divisive concepts” in public places such as state agencies, local boards of education, and public institutes of higher education. The bill would also prohibit certain public entities from conditioning enrolment or attendance in certain classes or trainings based on race or color and would authorize the termination of employees or contractors who violate the act. “Divisive concepts” is lengthily defined in the bill but includes any concept that teaches that “any individual should be asked accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to apologize solely on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.” The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ed Oliver, has stated that it is needed because people are concerned about “woke policies” being taught to children and has said that it’s “designed to prevent racism in schools and state agencies”. Similarly, there have been recent reports that the Louisiana Republican party wants state lawmakers to forbid the study of racism at colleges and universities, which led to the filing of a House Resolution that requests school-level reporting on programs and activities related to critical race theory, diversity, equity, and inclusion, or transformative social emotional learning.
Continued efforts such as those summarized above threaten to erode the work that has been taken on tirelessly by so many to bring us to a more evolved place in our society and regress us away from so much progress that has been made. EPU’s focus since its founding has been to confront the issue of race head-on if we expect to move forward so that our cities and towns can thrive by finding a way to unite around a common purpose. We recognize and celebrate the progress that has been made in many instances but remain alert in our recognition of the efforts still underway to undermine that progress and continue to sow divisions of anger, hate, and fear.