In the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, teachers and organizations have tried to better prepare other teachers and all students to reckon with the movement in the classroom. In reaction to new pedagogical tools and practices developed by teachers, teachers’ unions, and teachers’ organizations, new policies have come about in state legislatures in 2021 and 2022 to limit education on racism and related topics. This paper reviews the current literature on how teachers and organizations have developed new pedagogical tools and strategies in response to BLM. It also includes a content analysis of thirty-nine legislative documents presented in 2021 and 2022, as well as a case study of Arizona and South Dakota, to study how states responded to the BLM movement and the efforts of educators who sought to reckon with it through critical pedagogy. This paper engages literature on social movements to observe that while the effects of BLM on relationships between educators and organizations have been largely positive, the movement’s macro-level effects in the wider political climate have been of a negative, more anti-social nature. Furthermore, one can observe how “Critical Race Theory” has been mobilized in a discourse that can be characterized as “competitive victimhood,” serving as a catch-all for concepts related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and other “threatening” ideas. This paper concludes that the slew of state-level legislation in the realm of public education in 2021 and 2022 is a response to the ideas advanced in the BLM movement, and the repetitive nature of the documents suggests organization by right-wing think tanks.
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Gavin Furrey; Political Responses to Black Lives Matter in Education. Ethnic Studies Review 1 October 2023; 46 (3): 3–47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/esr.2023.46.3.3
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