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ENEWS: Aaliyah Hodge Op-Ed, Legislation Tracking, A Breath for George

Date Published: 02/11/2021

Author: Erin Wilson

Aaliyah Hodge Op-Ed in Star Tribune

Please take a few minutes today to read Aaliyah Hodge’s op-ed in the Star Tribune, “Counterpoint: Why the shift in social studies standards is needed.” It addresses the opinion article by Katherine Kersten published last Sunday titled “Woke revolution looms for schools," which denounces the Minnesota Department of Education’s proposed new standards for K-12 social studies. Kersten calls these proposed standards a “‘woke’ invasion” of public schools, and claims they will result in misinformation about our country’s history and “indoctrination in identity politics.” Hodge, as both a member of the Minnesota Social Studies Standards Committee and a Black woman, points out the many flaws in Kersten’s interpretation of the proposed new standards, writing that “blatant fearmongering veiled as patriotism and concern for students cannot stand.” Hodge also emphasizes that research shows centralizing Euro-American historical perspectives results in less academic engagement from BIPOC students. (Hodge’s own amazing story in using the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option Program to advance her education is also featured in G & J’s MN Equity Blueprint, page B-17.)

“Across this country, those in the global majority routinely have been cast as tertiary characters in the predominantly Euro-American narrative of history textbooks. This is also mirrored in our current state standards, through clear sanitizations of colonialism and the historical racist roots of our country, as evidenced by the fact that the word racism only appears twice, and in both instances referring to the time period of 1870-1920,” Hodge writes.

Reminder about legislative draft and new legislation tracking 

As a quick reminder, Growth & Justice posted our 2021 legislative agenda draft on our website back in January. If you think we are missing any priorities or important changes, please let us know as soon as possible! Please send any thoughts to erin@growthandjustice.org

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, we’re starting a section to track bills in the Minnesota legislature that pertain to topics covered in the Minnesota Equity Blueprint. We’ll list the new bills and any updates in the newsletter, and you can find a master list of the bills we’re following on our website. Growth & Justice is not indicating support of every bill on this list. We would just like to identify and track any legislation that relates to the topics of the Blueprint. Here are the updates and added legislation for this week: 

Updates: HF 164/SF 227 (Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021) and HF 99 (Reinvest in Minnesota and other conservation purposes funding provided, bonds issued, and money appropriated) have hearings today, Feb. 11. 

Register for free screening of “A Breath for George”

You should have received a special invitation from us this morning reminding you about the Feb. 25 screening of Austene Van’s “A Breath for George”— a collection of music, interviews, monologues and more intended to honor the life of George Floyd. The event is free and will take place from 7-9 p.m. You can find more information in that invitation, and if you would like to attend, please register for the Zoom gathering here

Latest TRUE Tuesday on Equity & Local Media 

The most recent TRUE Tuesday hosted by the Transforming Rural Understanding of Equity (TRUE) Partnership took place this week. This session focused on how local media can aid in equity work and how community members might approach members of their local media. The guests were Josette Ciceron, the host of Voices of Alexandria, and Heidi Holtan, the news and public affairs director at KAXE radio in Grand Rapids. If you’d like to view or listen to the recording, you can find it here, and registration for the next session (March 2) on Arts, Equity and Rural Minnesota can be found here


“Race has always mattered in this country, from the moment the Founding Fathers wrote that all men are created equal and in the same breath counted enslaved Black people as only partially human. Asserting that race does not matter is privilege. It not only dismisses the current lived experiences of people of color but also trivializes the centuries of legalized discrimination faced by people of color throughout American history.” — Aaliyah Hodge, “Counterpoint: Why the shift in social studies standards is needed.”

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