LANSING, Mich., Nov. 4, 2021 — The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 5097, legislation that bans the teaching of race and gender issues in Michigan’s K-12 schools.

The bill, in part, aims to ban race and gender stereotyping in the core academic curriculum. Race and gender stereotyping in the bill are defined as statements, beliefs and ideas that:

  • All individuals of a racial or ethnic group or gender hold a collective quality or belief.
  • Individuals act in certain ways or hold certain opinions because of their race or gender.
  • Individuals are born racist or sexist by accident of their race or gender.
  • Individuals bear collective guilt for historical wrongs committed by their race or gender.
  • Cultural norms or practices of a racial, ethnic group or gender are flawed and must be eliminated or changed to conform with those of another racial, ethnic group or gender.
  • Racism is inherent in individuals from a particular race or ethnic group or that sexism is inherent in individuals from a particular gender.
  • A racial or ethnic group or gender is in need of deconstruction, elimination or criticism.
  • The actions of individuals serve as an indictment against the race or gender of those individuals.

“The unfortunate reality is that racial stereotypes continue to exist at various levels in our society,” said state Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit). “Preventing our students from recognizing stereotypes and their impact only allows them to further circulate within our institutions and harm the very people that this bill seeks to aid.”

The bill passed 55-0 when House Democrats refused to vote after Republicans denied Johnson the right to speak on the bill. 

“As a Black woman, this is not the first time people have tried to silence me,” Johnson said. “Attempts to silence Black women have been happening for generations — something that Republicans want to erase from the history books with this bill — but know this: I will not back down. I will not allow Republicans to take away my voice. I will not let Republicans get away with whitewashing history. I will not stop fighting for the students and educators in Detroit and across Michigan, as Republicans try to keep kids ignorant about racial injustice and condemn teachers for doing what’s right.”

There is a long history of Black women being silenced, bullied and ignored throughout American history that still continues to this day.

“The experiences Black women face are nothing new,” Johnson said. “The police tried to silence the voice of Sandra Bland, but we will not stop calling for justice. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission tried to silence Black women at a hearing designed to let them speak, but we will not stop calling for fair maps and a fair process. They might try to silence me and other Black women, but we are not going anywhere. I will continue being a voice for the people in my district and this state.”