Harris says banning schools from teaching about racism is a disservice

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters during her one-on-one interview with the Monitor on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters during her one-on-one interview with the Monitor on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters to union officials and the New Hampshire delegation on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters to union officials and the New Hampshire delegation on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters during her one-on-one interview with the Monitor on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW 490 headquarters during her one-on-one interview with the Monitor on Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/24/2021 2:22:28 PM

Efforts to prevent New Hampshire public schools from discussing systemic racism or teaching topics related to racism and sexism, are a disservice to children and American history, Vice President Kamala Harris said.

“It is absolutely critical that we teach our children the truth about the history of our country in its best moments, and it's in its worst moments,” Harris said during a trip to the state Friday. “If we are ever to go forward in a way that we learn from history and not repeat mistakes, we must know what those mistakes have been. We must know those tragic moments happened, so that we can ensure they don't repeat themselves.”

State lawmakers have debated a bill that seeks to limit public schools and state contractors from discussing “divisive concepts” related to racism and sexism, and would specifically ban teaching that the state of New Hampshire or the U.S. is racist or sexist. 

The legislation is reminiscent of former President Trump’s executive order that banned the federal government and its contractors from participating in diversity training that examined systemic racism another other bias issues. The Biden administration reversed the ban in late January. 

On Saturday, a rally was held outside the State House in Concord in support of the ban.

The group, including Republican state Reps. Keith Ammon and Daryl Abbas and former GOP candidate for Congress Steve Negron, wants to stop “divisive racist propaganda from being forced onto our school children as facts,” organizers said. “Critical Race Theory is a radical doctrine that is rooted in Marxism, intended to drive us apart from one another.”

Last week, in an interview with NHPR, Gov. Chris Sununu said he would veto the legislation should it land on his desk, not because he disagrees with it, but because he doesn’t believe the government should restrict what schools teach. 

“I don't like the idea of critical race being taught in our schools and to our kids,” he said.

Sununu went on to say there is no systemic racism in New Hampshire. 

“We do not have systemic racism in New Hampshire,” he said. “But I do believe we have elements of racism and implicit bias throughout all parts of our community.”

Harris said systemic racism has been baked into all of America’s institutions. 

“It goes to everything from our education system, housing, our system of wealth creation,” Harris said. “the laws that were placed in our country prohibited black people from owning property from voting, from attending schools that were integrated. All of that is part of a system and the effects of that system still linger. So we have to recognize that.”

Harris arrived in New Hampshire on Friday to promote the administration's sweeping $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan that touches on everything from road repairs, to affordable housing, to child care. 

This is her first time back in the state since her run for president in the 2020 election, when critics said she did not prioritize the state, instead focusing on South Carolina and Iowa. Ultimately, Harris received a little over a hundred votes in N.H democratic primary. By contrast, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who finished first and second respectively, both received more than 70,000 votes.

Harris avoided answering whether she supported New Hampshire’s role as the as the first-in-the-nation primary state. 

“I think Hampshire is a very important state for many reasons,” she said.  “I mean, I'm here today because the importance to New Hampshire in terms of issues of what we're doing with American jobs, and what we're doing investing in job training, and building back up the workforce.” 

Harris started her trip with a visit to Plymouth where she attended a listening session on rural broadband and ended in Concord, where she touted the ways the plan will invest in the workforce.

The proposed plan also promises to protect the country from future pandemics by building up the national stockpile or medical supplies, enhance U.S. infrastructure for bio-preparedness, and train personnel for epidemic and pandemic response. 

Harris said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, as nearly 30% of Americans have been fully vaccinated. 

Even as several states, including New Hampshire, have lifted state-wide mask mandates, Harris urged Americans to continue following COVID-19 safety measures. 

“Part of the reasons that we see a light at the end of the tunnel is because people are wearing masks as appropriate,” she said. “People are social distancing, people are washing their hands a lot with soap and water and it's making a difference.” 


Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.



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