Some academics believe that removing race from education will feed white nationalism.

Some politicians and activists have recently accused schools of becoming divisive or indoctrinating pupils by teaching about race and inclusivity.

However, the growing threat of white nationalist extremism in the United States has raised concerns among education advocates regarding Republican-led efforts.

Now, advocates who talked with ABC News said that a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, reportedly carried out by a self-proclaimed white supremacist targeting a predominately Black neighbourhood has generated fears about eliminating race instruction in schools.

Children become aware of race and racial inequity at a young age, according to research, and may develop racial biases by the age of three to five.

Children who have honest and frequent dialogues about race, racial unfairness, and racism have reduced levels of bias, according to studies, including those by award-winning social-developmental psychologist Phyllis A. Katz.

According to Katz’s research, children pick up on what they see around them, so avoiding dialogues about race and inequality simply allows “prevalent preconceptions [to] remain intact.”

In 2019, Katheleen Belew, a historian who specialises in the white power movement, appeared before Congress, recommending education as a way to address the country’s extremism.

“Truly coping with white power violence would necessitate a thorough examination of the racial disparity that underpins many American communities,” Belew remarked.

Experts on radicalism in the United States, such as Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, believe that education may be a valuable weapon in combating racism in a variety of ways.

“Everyone should be aware of the enormous racial injustices that have existed throughout American history,” Hayden stated. “You can’t reasonably appreciate what the people of Buffalo — and Black people in general — are going through right now without first recognising the country’s history of racist brutality.”

Only depicting white people as adversaries, though, might “keep this cycle [of separation] running in our culture,” Hayden says.

Specifically, he suggests that federal agencies subsidise initiatives that encourage early radicalization intervention and inoculate communities against extremism by encouraging media literacy and mental health resources.

“You have people who are pushing back against education at a time when it is required more than ever,” he remarked.

Bills addressing “critical race theory” in K-12 schools have been introduced or passed in more than 30 states throughout the US.

Critical race theory is a branch of sociology that studies how racism has influenced American law.

Teachers claim that the idea is only taught in law school and higher education courses, not in K-12 classrooms.

Nonetheless, detractors allege that the theory is being employed in public schools to discriminate against white pupils and blame them for white people’s previous acts.

A Republican-led push is also underway to outlaw books for young adults or children that mention race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Within the previous two years, the anti-race education movement has roiled school board meetings, midterm primary campaigns, and conservative media. It has sparked passionate disputes about whether children are taught in schools about the long history of racial oppression and the fight for equality.

Critical race theorists, educators, and some parents, on the other hand, claim that opponents are purposefully misusing the theory in order to reverse gains toward racial justice and diversity.

“Whitewashing history, banning books, censoring different voices all do everything to deprive students of the truth of our past and plant the seeds of white supremacy,” Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association, told ABC News.

These rules, they claim, will prevent basic courses on civil rights, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, and other movements from being investigated and addressed in classrooms.

“Those who attempt to divide us for political advantage have radicalised the noisy minority,” Anderson added. “They are politically motivated attempts to divide Americans and divert our attention away from the real issue in our nation, which is that far too many of us are struggling to make ends meet.”

Some instructors believe that without these lessons, attacks on historically oppressed communities will continue to escalate.

The growing threat of white nationalist radicalism in the United States is highlighted by a document reportedly left behind by the 18-year-old alleged Buffalo gunman, which investigators say details his racist aspirations.

He allegedly voiced racist and antisemitic intents in it, as well as white supremacist conspiracy theories about America’s shifting demographics. He said his opinions were fostered in recent years through information on the internet, according to the paper analysed by ABC News.

Anti-racism activities, according to Elana Yaron Fishbein, founder and president of the anti-racism education nonprofit No Left Turn in Education, are not a response to the white nationalist fanaticism exhibited in Buffalo.

“Anti-destructive racism’s worldview promotes more racial separation and blame, not less,” Fishbein added. “In fact, it advocates combating racism with more racism. How does this help to heal and unite our society?”

“No one who knows this country’s history and ideals would ever conduct a heinous act of violence like the tragedy in Buffalo,” Fishbein added.

Ronda Taylor Bullock, the lead curator of the anti-racism advocacy group We Are, believes that educators should teach children about racial inclusiveness and equality so that they are well-informed before encountering extreme, racist ideologies.

“Someone feeling terrible [about racial inequity] is not the same as a white supremacist killing Black people,” Bullock told ABC News.

“How many more examples like these do we need to declare that anti-racism activity must be integrated into our school system?… We must recognise that racism is divisive, whereas anti-racism is not “Bullock continued.

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