Commentary

Embracing all the bad and the good of U.S. history is how we move forward

November 19, 2021 5:00 am

How social studies are taught in New Mexico is changing, and the public is weighing in. The new standards should be finalized in January. (Photo by Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

The Public Education Department held a virtual meeting so that the public could state their support or opposition for the proposed changes in our social studies curriculum for the state of New Mexico last week.  

I sat in on the Zoom meeting to offer my opinion and listen to all the feedback provided. And I am so glad that I did.  

I sat and listened to people who oppose the changes ask for more time, claim that critical race theory is being taught, called it Marxist, politically motivated and racist. Finally, I heard non-BIPOC commenters state over and over that the changes would create a “victim” mentality.  

This could not be further from the truth.  

The last time our social studies standards in New Mexico were updated was in 2009.  The new standards foster critical thinking, which is something that we should all want our kids to do. They embrace our children’s identities, which could save the lives of so many of our youth who do not feel they are in a safe place to be who they really are.  

I heard a lot of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes being thrown around from his “I Have a Dream” speech, which he wrote in 1963.  Well I, too, took the time to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his 1967 speech, “Where Do We Go From Here?”  

Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The lives of our children are not up for political debate. All of our children deserve to be taught in a safe academic environment where they can see themselves and where they feel they belong.   

NM education leaders expect decision on new social studies standards in early 2022

My son was in kindergarten when a little girl announced to the class, “Nobody should play with Devin, because he’s Black.”  My son is 17 now and experiences racism and micro-aggressions daily. And here we are in 2021, where my nephew in first grade had a white child spit in his face.  The teacher’s response was, “Oh, these kids aren’t used to seeing someone who looks like you.”

I ask you: when is the time for these changes if not now? Our communities have waited long enough. We must begin to embrace all of the bad and good that makes our country America.  Inclusion means everyone, and we are all a part of the fabric of these great United States of America.  

Learn more about the PED social studies standards from the Public Education Department.

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Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan

Founder of People Requiring Equality w/in Systemic Racism (PRESS) New Mexico, Barbara Jordan is a retired combat veteran with 20 years of loyal service to the United States Air Force. She merged her natural humanitarian skills and fire for social justice issues with an emphasis on racial equality to create PRESS New Mexico, named after one of her favorite sayings, “We will press on!” As a Founder of PRESS New Mexico, her vision is to undo systemic racism by creating cultural change leaders who are put in positions to create transformational change. Barbara has been featured in 2020 America Documentary, No More Normal, Albuquerque Journal, Rio Rancho Observer, KUMN, Daily LOBO, New Mexico PBS, Santa Fe New Mexican and Spot on New Mexico. She may be seen on KRQE 13 Albuquerque, KOAT, News Brea and the Santa Fe Reporter. She is the loving mother of son, Devin and a proud native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She lives in Rio Rancho.

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