Biden Slams GOP Efforts To Silence Discussions Of Systemic Racism

"That’s not being woke, that’s being honest," the president said during his Martin Luther King Jr. Day remarks.

President Joe Biden on Monday criticized Republican attempts to limit how educators discuss race and systemic discrimination in schools, arguing that teaching these topics isn’t about being “woke” but about acknowledging history.

Speaking at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Washington, D.C., the president highlighted some of his administration’s recent accomplishments including establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday — which was met with opposition from some Republicans who decried the effort as “identity politics.”

The idea that we’re supposed to remain silent on the abuses of the past, as if they didn’t occur? That’s not being woke, that’s being honest,” Biden said. “That’s talking about history.”

Biden’s remarks come amid renewed efforts by some Republicans to ban “critical race theory” in schools. Critical race theory is an academic discipline that studies how race has influenced societal, legal and political structures, but the term has been used by Republicans in recent years as a blanket indictment of any discussion of systemic racism or discrimination. Across the country, Republican legislators have pushed bills seeking to restrict how these topics are taught in public schools, including by banning books.

Most recently, newly inaugurated Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed an executive order banning “indoctrination and critical race theory” in public classrooms. Sanders, who previously served as former President Donald Trump’s press secretary, defended the ban Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” arguing teachers “shouldn’t teach our kids and our students ideas to hate this country.”

And in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking to overhaul public universities, beginning with the historically progressive New College in Sarasota where he recently appointed six conservative trustees to the board.

“We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, said during his inaugural speech earlier this month.

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