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U. Nebraska anti-racism group rips regent’s effort to limit critical race theory

UPDATED

An “anti-racism” group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has officially come out in opposition to efforts at restricting the teaching of critical race theory, or CRT.

Specifically, the Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity is “appalled, saddened and deeply alarmed” at UN Regent Jim Pillen’s resolution which would ban “any imposition of critical race theory” in the university curriculum.

Pillen also is a GOP candidate for governor.

According to its website, the Journey group came about via UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green’s call from a year ago in which he said the death of George Floyd “shook me to my core in many ways.”

“Now must be different,” Green wrote. “This cannot be another moment where we collectively rage at injustice, acknowledge pain and then take no meaningful action. We must take real steps to address racial inequities and a history of exclusion. We must take them now. And we must take them again, and again, and again … ”

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Regent Pillen’s resolution “oppose[s] discrimination in any form” and claims CRT proponents “seek to silence opposing views and disparage important American ideals.”

MORE: School district pays CRT professor $15,000 to rewrite curriculum

In a lengthy statement, the Journey’s co-leaders (below) claim Pillen’s resolution is “divisive” and “un-American”:

We are deeply concerned that the proposed resolution and the insistence that it be put up for a vote by the Board of Regents constitutes a serious attack on academic freedom and represents a thinly veiled challenge to the work that has been done over the years, which has accelerated in the past year, against racism and discrimination in all its forms at our institution.  It is a clear warning to all who are working against racism and discrimination at our institution, and in that sense, what the proposed resolution represents demands a full critique and challenge.

The Journey further contends the resolution is an example of a “politically constructed cultural war intending to hamper progress in dismantling racism that is grounded in distortions and misunderstandings.” It also will “diminish” the work of groups like Journey by making its members “targets” in this war.

The actual text of Pillen’s proposal states “Be it resolved that the Regents of the University of Nebraska oppose any imposition of Critical Race Theory in curriculum.” Note the added emphasis, for as Pillen told The College Fix last week, this refers to “policies, standards, and graduation requirements that would compel students to study critical race theory or adopt a CRT framework in their chosen course of study” (emphasis added again). Nothing would prevent students who wish to study CRT (and professors who want to teach it) “on an elective basis” from doing so.

In an August 4 email to The Fix, Pillen reiterated: “Critical Race Theory is divisive, anti-American, and a threat to free, open discourse at the University of Nebraska. The resolution’s critics are only proving its necessity. Anyone questioning Critical Race Theory is being attacked and called an oppressor. This resolution protects academic freedom and students’ ability to dissent.”

Read the Journey for Anti-Racism and Equity’s full statement.

UPDATE: The article has been amended to include comments from Regent Pillen.

MORE: DOE amends grant program that could prioritize antiracism and CRT

IMAGE: Colored Lights / Shutterstock.com; University of Nebraska-Lincoln screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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