A Republican congressman challenged educators to defend a Florida textbook that used a bar graph charting the levels of racial prejudice by age group, and a Texas principal turned the tables on him.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), who is Black, complained that a math textbook mentioned racial bias in a lesson on graphs, and he demanded that witnesses called for a hearing of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to discuss ongoing efforts to ban classroom discussion on American history, race and LGBTQ+ issues.
"Should material like this be in a mathematics textbook that will go before students who might be taking math lessons somewhere in middle school, fifth grade or even ninth grade?" Donalds said. "Should this bar graph talking about implicit bias or racial bias be included in a mathematics textbook, not just in the state of Florida, but in any state in the union?"
James Whitfield, a former high school principal from Colleyville, Texas, responded with some questions of his own.
"Do we agree that racial prejudice exists?" said Whitfield, who is also Black. "Is there math in this textbook? Is disseminating a bar graph part of a student learning math? It just so happens, sir -- I would dare say they are learning math skills. It just so happens, again, this may be something that certain people view as uncomfortable, but racial prejudice is a real thing, and I dare say our students get that. They understand that."
"So to say that just because something says something about bias or racial prejudice," Whitfield added, "we can't just remove that because we're trying to talk about something that can make some people feel uncomfortable, and I dare say, if people feel uncomfortable, oftentimes there's a reason for that, and maybe that's what's needed to move forward."
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