Teachers Face Retribution, Stand in Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives

By Nélida Tello

Teachers across the country have faced retribution for standing in solidarity with the movement for Black lives as they attempt to connect today’s struggles of Black people to America’s racist and colonial history.

In Wylie Texas, more than one social science teacher at Cooper Junior High made a drawing assignment for students where they were asked to depict five scenes: one of the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, one of a slave trader, a slave master, a Ku Klax Klan member, and one of a Sheriff, all with their knees on the necks of Black men.

Students were asked to evaluate the role of protests and their capacity to “lead to real change in America’s treatment of Black and brown people.”

Both the National Fraternal Order of Police and Texas Governor Greg Abbott denounced the comparison of police officers to slave masters and the KKK. Governor Abbott called for the teacher who had made the assignment to be fired, stating that students should be taught the opposite what the teacher had asked. 

The history of the United States is composed of slavey, settler colonialism, and genocide, aspects which ruling class education diminishes and glosses over, as it does the country’s history of class struggle. The predecessors of police departments were slave patrols, tasked with catching runaway slaves. Today, police continue to protect property over people and enforce the laws that maintain the racist, oppressive system. 

In the border town of Roma, Texas, high school English teacher Taylor Likfa was placed on paid leave after refusing to take down a Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ poster from the background of her virtual classroom. The story went viral after Trump supporters like Marian Knowlton, who is running for the Texas District 31 House seat, denounced the post for radicalizing and indoctrinating students. Likfa has since been reinstated.

In Woodland Hills, California, an English high school teacher from El Camino Real Charter High School fled her house along with her daughter after receiving death threats for wearing a t-shirt that read “I can’t breathe,” while teaching. After, reactionary Youtuber Elijah Schaffer shared a screenshot of the English teacher on his Twitter, her inbox was flooded with threats.

As the ruling class and its lackeys repress teachers who speak out in favor of the movement for Black lives and those who attempt to shed light at the racist and colonial history of the US, teachers are forged into fighters for the working class, picking up the struggle of the people and their desire to overthrow imperialism.

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