President Donald Trump has launched another assault against education intended to address racism in America.
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that the Department of Education was investigating whether California public schools had implemented the New York Times’ 1619 Project into their curriculum. The Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative aims to reframe American history around the year slaves landed on its shores and by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
“Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!” Trump wrote, sharing a Sept. 1 tweet from an unverified account stating that California schools were using the curriculum.
It follows a White House memo released on Friday and obtained by the Washington Post that ordered federal agencies to discontinue racial sensitivity training. The Trump administration claimed the training sessions were “divisive, anti-American propaganda” and that trainings that mention white privilege or suggest that racism is part of the nation’s foundation undercut the government’s core values.
All agencies were directed to cancel any training related to white privilege or critical race theory, a school of thought which views race as a social construct that is used by white people to perpetuate institutional racism at the expense of people of color.
It’s unclear how much of this training was conducted at federal agencies. The memo was issued days after a guest on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” bashed critical race theory and called for its removal from federal government institutions.
Similarly, while some schools have moved to incorporate the 1619 Project into classes, the extent is not known. The curriculum is available for free online.
On Sunday, historian Nicole Hemmer, who authored a book about right-wing media’s role in transforming American politics, weighed in on Trump’s directives in an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter.
“I don’t think any of us believe that the president has deep thoughts about critical race theory or that he’s read the 1619 Project,” she said. “These have really become watchwords for what the right sees as anti-white racism.”
Trump’s allies have also attacked teaching a version of history that is not flattering to the U.S. Earlier this year, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act of 2020, legislation that would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project. He said the project was “a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.”
Trump has claimed systemic racism is not a problem in America.
Trump’s comments come in the middle of a nationwide reckoning on race sparked by protests against racism and police violence.