is the melting pot getting gray?

In elementary school, I learned about Native American culture, and how different tribes introduced American settlers to critical skills like crop irrigation, hunting and medical care.

In junior high, my social studies class watched Roots, and explored the impact that slavery had on the United States.

In high school, I took history courses that discussed world wars and what was gained and lost through generations.

In college, I enrolled in courses about Latino authors and different world religions.

Today, I interact with people from a variety of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis. I feel fortunate to have had a well rounded education that taught me about different kinds of people and cultures. At home and at school, I was encouraged not just to tolerate, but to embrace all people.

It’s strange to think that today, some of the courses I took without a second thought, might now be illegal under a law passed in 2010.

In its text, HB 2281 “prohibits a school district or charter school from including courses or classes that either promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

That makes sense. I’d be very alarmed with any school that offered courses on overthrowing the government or resenting a particular race. I’m also not a proponent of segregating students by race to learn about their own race or any other. But I’m concerned that this law is taking us down a slippery slope, where Arizona students risk losing more than any legislators will gain.

We have a responsibility to continue educating each other and our children about all kinds of people, so that our society becomes more rich in tolerance. Unfortunately, the hours spent supporting, opposing and interpreting this law have likely caused more contempt than anything else, in an irony that will continue to unfold.

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