Indianapolis Urban League

IUL Rebuts Rokita’s Divisive Parents Bill of Rights and Manipulation of Critical Race Theory

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IUL REBUTS ROKITA’S DIVISIVE PARENTS BILL OF RIGHTS

AND MANIPULATION OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY

Indianapolis (Tuesday, August 3, 20210) – Seldom in the history of the Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) have we and our constituents been confronted by such an existential threat that imperils our foundational and fundamental rights as American citizens. The current political environment at the local, state and national levels of government and society jeopardizes all of the hard-fought victories paid for with the sacrificial blood of those who believe in equality for all.

The most recent manifestation of these threats comes in an innocuously titled tract developed by Attorney General Todd Rokita called the Parents Bill of Rights (PBR).  The PBR characterizes any attempt at efforts to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion in classrooms as a negative “outside” influence. The document uses Critical Race Theory (CRT), as an imprecise catch-all phrase and loosely defined term, to falsely claim and imply that liberals and diversity advocates espouse the belief that America is fundamentally racist.

Mr. Rokita intentionally ignores and mischaracterizes the major provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to fit his warped views and interpretations of the law and the realities faced by students of color. Amazingly, Mr. Rokita even fails to mention that ESSA is a federal civil rights law! ESSA was supported by many Republicans, including Rokita, who helped steer its passage and enactment, because of its emphasis on state and local power and its limitations on federal control.

Mr. Rokita, whose office is supposed to represent the legal interests of ALL Hoosiers, through the PBR and in other documented actions, is using the PBR to infer that any interpretation or teaching of history that differs from his own selective interpretation is “…politically affiliated classroom discussion.”  Furthermore, Mr. Rokita urges parents to…“contact their child’s school district when controversial political or social ideologies are brought into Indiana classrooms.”  In doing so, he has substituted his judgment for that of historians and he is intentionally creating an atmosphere where any discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion will be deemed as promoting division based on race.

Mr. Rokita’s office budget is in excess of $42 million and he is unethically using the money of all taxpayers to subsidize his advance “campaign” for governor and to appeal politically to the most extremist elements of “conservative” Republicans, locally and statewide.  Additionally, he is spearheading a nationwide effort by state attorney generals in 20 other states to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion and other educational activities that they claim impose the teaching of critical race theory as outlined in a 10-page letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on May 19th, 2021.  The letter opposes the U.S. Department of Education’s plans to provide grants for American history and civic education programs with curriculums that teach diversity and the effects of “systemic” inequality.

Ultimately, Mr. Rokita and the other radical state attorney general’s seek to give themselves the power to decide and define what is the sole proper and accurate understanding of American history in relation to Blacks, our historically unique paths to citizenship, and the realities of both de-jure (racially motivated public policies) and de-facto (racial isolation independent of state action) segregation and racism.

 The truth is Critical Race Theory is not currently being taught in schools from the elementary to secondary level anywhere in public schools in Indiana or in the United States.  In fact, it has never been taught at that level.  It is a graduate-level course of study.   

In Mr. Rokita’s political mind, however, acknowledging the REALITIES of the consequences of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, gerrymandering, voting prohibitions as well as the many documented but untaught contributions of Black Americans in spite of our trauma is the same as trying to “. . . endorse teaching factually deficient history and will, in practice, lead to racial and ethnic division and indeed more discrimination.” 

The Indianapolis Urban League is a non-profit, non-partisan human services agency with an emphasis on promoting civil rights and positive relations among the various races and ethnicities that make America great.  The IUL is not opposed to any officeholder solely on the basis of their political affiliation or their individual “conservative” or “liberal” ideology.  However, the IUL reserves the right to hold accountable any individual or group who cynically and intentionally inflame tension and division and seek to destroy positive relations between residents of different races, ethnicities, identities, backgrounds, and beliefs.  We will do so without fear of intimidation or retaliation!  The Indianapolis Urban League encourages Indianapolis and Central Indiana residents and especially our individual, civic, corporate, and faith-based supporters, and government officials of all races to stand courageously with us and other organizations that promote civil rights, diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Directly express your concerns to “political leaders” who perpetuate misinformation about CRT to divide us or to whitewash history or current events.  Such unethical and false manipulations must not go unchallenged.  Failure to lift your voices, leverage your privilege and exercise your power now, will undermine our collective and your individual work towards equality and equity and to undo the damage of a history untaught and untold.

Tony Mason
President and CEO
Indianapolis Urban League