Jesse Hagopian is an activist teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, a leader in Black Lives Matter at School and editor of the book More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing. This article appeared in the Seattle Times:

State Republican Rep. Jim Walsh recently introduced HB 1807 and Republican Rep. Brad Klippert introduced HB 1886 for this legislative session — two bills designed to mandate educators lie to Washington’s students about structural racism and sexism.

This copycat legislation is lifted from a growing number of bills around the country that seek to ban an honest account of history in K-12 education, including many of the long struggles against oppression. These bills especially target the teaching of critical race theory (CRT), the 1619 Project, the Zinn Education Project and Black Lives Matter at School.

It’s fitting that Rep. Klippert’s bill is numbered “1886,” as that was the year a mob of white people in Seattle rounded up more than 200 Chinese people, forced them into wagons, and hauled them to Seattle docks where they were placed on a ships and deported. Though 15 people were tried in court in relation to the riot — including Chief of Police William Murphywho helped the mob round up Chinese people illegally — not a single one was ever convicted of a crime.

It’s similarly appropriate that Rep. Walsh’s bill is numbered “1807” because this bill seeks to return us to the early 19th century — a time when the nation was accelerating the attack on Black people’s rights in the North and colonizing the land of Native Americans. In 1807, New Jersey took away the right to vote for Black people. On April 1, 1807, Ohio outlawedBlack people from testifying in cases with white people. For the next 40 years, white people could act with impunity in filing baseless lawsuits and commit crimes — even violent attacks — against Black people who could not testify to defend themselves or give any evidence against them…

HB 1886 states that educators would be banned from teaching that, “The United States is fundamentally or structurally racist or sexist.” But consider these facts: The average white family has 10 times the amount of wealth of the average Black family.

∙ A Black woman is three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than a white woman.

∙ Black students are more than three times more likely to be suspended from school than white students.

· The median household income for Native Americans was 60% of median white household income. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent estimates reveal inequities have worsened, especially for Native American women.

· At least 44 transgender and gender nonconforming people were violently killed in 2020, with Black transgender women accounting for two-thirds of total recorded deaths since 2013.

· Anti-Asian hate crimes surged over 169% last year.

For teachers who believe in accurate history, there is no real choice here — we will always teach students about the reality of structural racism and other intersecting oppressions. Revealing these facts in the classroom is not about shaming white students — in fact, it is those who deny structural racism who end up leading white children to suspect that they are personally responsible for the racial disparities they see, rather than understanding the way systems can work to perpetuate inequities sometimes regardless of the intentions of the individuals who work in these systems.