PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — Teachers should not make students feel bad for being white.
That's the aim of a bill being pitched at the Rhode Island State House by Republican Rep. Patricia Morgan, who cites Martin Luther King Jr. in her reasoning.
"That no one would be judged by the color of their skin," Morgan said.
But the bottom line of Morgan's proposal to ban teaching "divisive concepts" is "you cannot make people violate their conscience by saying that because they are white, they are bad. It's just wrong," Morgan told NBC 10 News on Tuesday.
Morgan said that is "critical race theory" and claimed it is happening in college classrooms and companies, "and tell them they must denounce their whiteness, they must say that they are an oppressor and they have oppressed people, that's just not true."
Morgan's bill would ban teaching that one race or sex is superior to the other, or that the state of Rhode Island or the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist, or that "any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex."
"You can teach our history. You teach about slavery and the things that made that a horrible institution that never should have happened, but you cannot say that present day people, because they are white are to be considered to be bad people just based upon their color," Morgan said.
Definitions of "critical race theory" point more in the direction of acknowledging systematic racism and white privilege.
It was targeted last year by President Donald Trump and his administration, which called it divisive and anti-American propaganda.
"It's very absurd," Black Lives Matter Rhode Island head Brother Gray Dantzler said of Morgan's proposal, and said history has been taught from a white perspective for centuries.
"I think that we've been feeling bad. African Americans have been feeling bad for hundreds of years about education," Dantzler told NBC 10 News.
But he also said white people should not be made to feel bad about the past.
"Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Those are our brothers and we love them and now it's about education," Dantzler said.
Gov. Dan McKee said he had not heard of Morgan's plan but said, "Our history should be taught in schools, and there is a bad history in terms of the way that the African American community has been treated."
A House committee hearing on Morgan's bill is scheduled for Wednesday.