- Nov 10, 2006
In Texas, a teacher told her students she was required by law to provide them with multiple perspectives on the racist conspiracy theory that allegedly motivated the deadly attack.
Two days after a white gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, teacher Elizabeth Close began her high school ethnic studies class in Austin, Texas, by reminding her students about a new state law that requires her to provide balanced perspectives on "widely debated and currently controversial issues."
Close told her students that under the law, one of several recently implemented across the country that limit the ways teachers can discuss racism and current events, she was obligated to inform them that there's more than one way to view Saturday's mass shooting.
On one hand, she explained that authorities are investigating the killings as a racially motivated hate crime carried out by an 18-year-old who reportedly wrote of his belief in a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being "replaced" by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and integration.
"But I'm also supposed to tell you that that's just one perspective," Close recalled telling her students. "Another perspective is that this young man was out defending the world — or his kind — from being taken over."
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Close waited for her comment to fully register with her students, then added: "If you guys want to know why I'm thinking about quitting at the end of the year, it's because of these types of policies — the fact that I have to have this conversation with you."
Close said she was being intentionally provocative, trying to shock students into thinking critically about the Buffalo shooting as well as the Texas law. But she was also venting a frustration shared by many social studies teachers nationwide.
"I think we're all just tired," she said.