A circular sent to parents at Centennial Elementary, a public grade school in Denver, Colorado, contained the following description of a new “Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles” curriculum that will be taught to children as young as five and six years old:
Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles
1. Restorative Justice
We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
3. Loving Engagement
We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
We are committed to acknowledging, respecting, and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.
We see ourselves as part of the global Black family and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black folk who exist in different parts of the world.
6. Queer Affirming
We are committed to fostering a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.
7. Trans Affirming
We are committed to embracing and making space for trans siblings to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
8. Collective Value
We are guided by the fact all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location.
We are committed to fostering an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with capacity to lead and learn.
10. Black Families
We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.
11. Black Villages
We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.
12. Unapologetically Black
We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
13. Black Women
We are committed to building a Black women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness.
Like most radical declarations, the above contains a dollop of the vague yet perfectly reasonable (“a space free of ageism where we can learn from each other”) as the spoonful of sugar to make the more questionable medicine go down.
And what is questionable here? The declaration includes—to cite one example— “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the collective village”.
Does that mean a society comprised of single mothers? What else could it mean, in practice?
Even former President Obama, no one’s idea of a rightwing ideologue, takes a dim view of single motherhood as a new social “norm”. Study after study has shown that kids raised in stable “nuclear family dynamics” do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and generally have an easier path in life. The “collective village” might work—to a degree—in some small tribal societies. In a modern, diverse nation of 330 million, it’s pure utopian fantasy.
Likewise, “Queer Affirming” and “Transgender Affirming”?
Whoa, whoa…wait a minute. The Black Lives Matter movement has long since become like the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea: the actual meaning doesn’t match the name. As a statement divorced from the above manifesto, all of us can agree that, “Black Lives Matter”. But there are plenty of African Americans who would look at the above and say, “WTF?”
I like to get down to brass tacks with these things. How do we get from the self-evident “Black Lives Matter” to “a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists”?
And how, exactly, is heteronormativity to be tossed on the ash heap of history, when 95 to 97% of us are heterosexual? Heterosexuality is the norm, by definition. Tolerance of boutique sexualities is one thing, ignoring the facts of nature is another.
Keep in mind: the above educational manifesto is not the brainchild of some drunk college kids on social media. This is an initiative from a supposedly sane and responsible school board in Denver, Colorado. And they plan to teach this to 5- and 6-year-olds.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion, on the Internet and elsewhere, about parents demanding oversight of what public school teachers are teaching.
That generally wasn’t an issue when I was a kid, in the 1970s and 1980s. In my childhood days, parents entrusted their children to the school system, and rarely, if ever, intervened. I don’t remember my parents ever questioning me about what my teachers were teaching, from an ideological or political perspective.
But then again, the schools I attended would never have come up with something as aberrant as this. When teachers and school board officials return to responsible behavior, parents will once again trust them.
Until then, expect a lot more parental oversight of what teachers and school board officials are doing behind closed classroom doors.