What IS a ‘Divisive Concept’???

Just what constitutes a “divisive concept”?  No, seriously … for some people, pineapple on pizza is a divisive concept, so I think if states are going to ban the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’, there must be some agreement, some definition as to what, exactly, a ‘divisive concept’ is!

Last week the Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” in K-12 history.  Alabama is not the first, nor will it likely be the last state in the Union to pass such an open-ended law, so it’s imperative that we understand exactly what it is they are even talking about.  And further, once ‘divisive concepts’ are defined, that definition needs to be in writing for every single person in the state to understand, lest teachers and even parents go to prison for simply trying to be honest, to ensure children are getting an actual education!  Most teachers at this point are throwing their hands up, not knowing what they are or aren’t allowed to say in the classroom.

According to Law Insider …

Divisive concepts means the concepts that

  • one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  • the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist;
  • an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
  • an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
  • members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
  • an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
  • an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  • any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or
  • meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.

The term “divisive concepts” also includes any other form of race or sex stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating.

So, look at #2 … it is not to be taught that the U.S. has and has always had a racist, homophobic element?  We cannot teach about the KKK or the murders of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Emmett Till, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many, many others?  We cannot teach that for four centuries, certain white people held the belief that they were somehow superior to Black people?  We cannot teach how people from Europe came to this continent, took advantage of the civilization of Indigenous People who were already here, then drove them off their land and murdered many of them?  We cannot, I suppose, even teach about Hitler’s execution of some six million Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and others?  Is Dr. Martin Luther King’s name and his contributions to our society to be kept a secret?

It seems to me that this push to stop the teaching of the past is naught but a ploy to further demean Black people, to erase the past history that helps us understand why BlackLivesMatter is so important, so relevant.  If the next generation grows up not understanding about the KKK and how many Black families were destroyed by them, then how can they understand our outrage when a white cop kills an unarmed Black man?  Are they to be taught that Blacks, whites, and even Indigenous People have all had the same opportunities and been treated equally throughout the history of the United States?  That, my friends, is naught but one damned BIG LIE!  Do people in Texas, Virginia, Alabama and other states really want their children to grow up on a foundation of lies?  Do they want them to repeat the past because they are ignorant of it?  We do have some pretty ugly things in our history but hiding them and pretending they never happened will only lead to more ugly things … things that will result in death and devastation.

I know I have written on this topic before, and please forgive me if I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but this is so damn important and every time I hear of another state embracing stupidity while whitewashing our past, I feel a white-hot rage run through me.  We cannot … CANNOT … afford to simply let this one slip to the back of our minds … we MUST continue to fight for the proper, fact-based teaching of ALL history … not just that which makes white Christian males look like the guys in white hats!    

In the past few months, residents in Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania have found KKK fliers in their driveways and yards.  The fliers read, in part …

The lack of White pride is truly a sad and strange thing, because no group has more to be rightfully proud of than the White people of the world. The glories and greatness that the men and women of our race have won over the centuries should serve as a source of eternal pride and inspiration to White people everywhere.

Since the dawn of history, we have been a mighty race of builders, explorers, artists, warriors, inventors, philosophers and cultivators.

We are the race of Shakespeare, Leonardo, Beethoven and Homer. We are the sons and daughters of Leif Ericsson, Columbus, Magellan, and Lindbergh. We are the folk of Alexander, Caesar, Arminius, Roland, Frederick, Napoleon, Washington, Franklin and Lee. We are the heirs of Sophocles; Heraclitus and Plato, of Rembrandt; Rubens and Durer, of Dante; Goethe and Gutenberg; of Vivaldi, Back, Mozart, and Wagner. We are the descendants of Pythagoras, Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Nietzsche.

Just to list the great achieves [sic] of our race would require the work of a lifetime.

No one has more to be proud of that [sic] we do!

Ignorance is bliss … for the ignorant.  For the rest of us, it is pure hell.  Teach the children the truth … let them grow up with actual spines and functional brains so that they might make the world a better place, might finally set aside contests of race, gender, religion, skin colour and just become one people trying to do good in the world.

And by the way … personally, I like pineapple on pizza!

80 thoughts on “What IS a ‘Divisive Concept’???

  1. Ignorance has led us to where we’re at, hasn’t it? With the ignorant claiming that it’s their right to be ignorant. True, I guess: should’ve been in the Bill of Rights: We the people have the right to be ignorant jackasses.

    Hmmm – but wouldn’t religion also be a divisive subject? Rawgod touched on that well.

    Also – impressive that in this time of war, where Russia is attacking and invading Ukraine, that Russia insists that no one in the media mentions bombing, attacking or invading, that these Alabama Republicans are in lockstep with the Russians, trying to deny what’s out there.

    As well as those folks who Florida who insist that Gay not be mentioned…or climate change. And the folks in NC who flat stated that coastal planning can’t include policy based on studies that say the seas are gonna rise. No! Better to stay in fucking ignorant bliss until reality smashes you in the face.

    Hugs and cheers, M

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose anyone has the right to be an ignorant jackass … AS LONG AS he/she doesn’t cause harm to others by his/her ignorance and jackass-ness. Today, though, the ignorant are causing a great deal of harm … and that shouldn’t be tolerated.

      Oh yes … I have long said that religion is the single most divisive issue there is in the world! Each religion is so convinced that THEY and they alone are the “right” one and that the entire rest of the world is wrong and must immediately convert to their ways! I was disgusted during the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson when Senator Cornyn said that allowing LGBTQ rights was sometimes offensive to evangelicals and shouldn’t the evangelicals rights not to be offended take precedence? Not his exact words, but the gist of it. I gave up on all religion around the age of 5 and everything I’ve seen since then convinces me that I was right! Marx was right, too, with his “religion is the opiate of the masses” theory.

      And don’t even get me started with Putin and his war against Ukraine! He’s bombing apartment buildings and calling it ‘collateral damage’! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

      And oh yes, let’s protect those little white boys in Florida … wouldn’t want them to understand that their own feelings are not wrong, but normal, now would we? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Methinks it’s time for my nightly glass of wine!

      Hugs ‘n cheers to you, Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first phrase to describe the latest slitherings of the White Supremacist crew was deleted as it would be unfair to Weasels. The tragedy being it is such a tawdry obvious ploy which is not being laughed out of court, a sad reflection indeed.
    Would that the only topic of fierce and impassioned debate be whether pizza with pineapple is the food of the gods or satan’s work.
    Oh yeah, thanks for the KKK picture. It reminded us to pick up a pack of toilet rolls on the next groceries run.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To mention pineapple on pizza is a divisive concept because it fails to mention that without it the ham is bland and without life. Like White is better with Black, ham is all the better for pineapple.A contested view in South African Russia perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As to a definition of “divisive concept”, I think this covers it: Any idea or concept that is contrary to, or opposes concepts, ideas and/or opinions held by Americans who are leading figures in the Republican party and/or white conservative, fundamentalist/evangelical Christian men.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yeah … you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head! In my book, evangelical stands for racism, as does the Republican Party these days. I cannot help but wonder where this nation will be in another 50 or 100 years. For the most part, I’m glad I won’t be around to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An excellent and well-thought-out post! What came to my mind whilst slowly reading this a second time was something that on the surface has nothing to do with the topic. In order to give it some clarification, prior to adding it, please indulge my P4L to explain the background. Decades ago, during the summer after my high school graduation in 1965, someone very dear to me repeatedly attempted to get me to read a book had been recently published. I was very involved in preparing to enter nursing school at the time and never accepted nor read the proffered book, though not due to any lack of trying on his part! Fast forward to nearly 55 years later and imagine my surprise to come across that book in a cardboard box along with another 5 books in the series that had followed over the course of 20 years…several were a little the worse for wear! Side note here : I still miss that monthly book swap!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Grief! This new computer has yet to be mastered! My apologies and please excuse the disruption in this comment.
      The book/books that I am referring to will most likely be unknown to you unless you are a fan of science fiction. The long ago book was “Dune” by Frank Herbert. That was the first book in the series but the thought that entered my mind is from the 6th book in the series, “Chapterhouse : Dune”, which was published in 1985 prior to Herbert’s death in early 1986. At the beginning there are some words by one of the book’s characters and that is the thought which popped into my mind : “Those who would repeat the past must control the teaching of history.” And, is not that the very thing which is being attempted in the present?! WHAK!! Thank-you!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: WHAT IS A ‘ DIVISIVE CONCEPT ‘ ??? jilldennison.com | | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  7. Just change things up a bit. If I were a teacher there, I wouldn’t say anything about the different races or sexes when it comes to racism. Instead, I’d simply teach the truth about how white supremacy is tied more to conservative ideology than anything else.

    Teach kids about how Blacks were first elected to Congress as Republicans only for conservative Republicans, who were part of the Lily White Movement, to run them out of office and the party too. Teach kids how Southern conservative Democrats enacted Jim Crow laws and stripped constitutionally protected rights from Black Americans until the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

    It’s true that all White people aren’t racist. Those who are, however, tend to be more conservative and Evangelical leaning.

    There’s also the fact that Alabama can’t teach about the Southern Baptist Convention under this law either because of how it was formed. The SBC came about because Southern Baptists were against abolition and preached that slavery was okay because God made Blacks inferior to Whites.

    Liked by 3 people

    • All excellent points, my friend. You’re right that the white people who are racist are largely evangelicals and conservatives … and they are the loudest voices, it seems. Perhaps it’s about time those of us who believe Blacks are in every way equal to whites speak a bit louder! Frankly, although I am a non-believer, it seems to me that the evangelicals today have largely ignored those teachings of Christ in the bible, that they have cherry-picked Christianity, taking only the parts that fit in with their own narrow-minded belief set and discarding or ignoring the rest. Sigh. I wonder far too often of late if there is any hope left for the human species.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Many of today’s evangelicals would be the very ones who would have refused Mary and Joseph and then crucified their son. I grew up in the Baptist church, and I can’t begin to understand their beliefs.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: What IS a ‘Divisive Concept’??? | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  9. Thank you for raising the question! It is a great post.

    My elementary school, high school, and college were all Black. A function of the segregated south, the other consequence being that many of the teachers had graduate degrees from Columbia and other Ivies. The state (Georgia) still was willing to pay for Black people to get degrees in states outside of Jim Crow than consider allowing Black people into their institutions. In fact, if you look back further back, the very founding of Georgia Tech nearly did not happen over fears that the institution would be another folly of “Negro” legislators— the same ones who had introduced free public education to the state during the brief Reconstruction era.

    Histories of the south — in fact the entirely of the united states — contain these “uncomfortable” truths. There are living breathing people — myself included — who embody these truths. The education that many received in the glorious pre-70s united states were built upon erasure of entire people — myself included.

    These aren’t divisive concepts at all — no more than a dentist telling you it’s time to have that wisdom tooth removed. All of the calls for a truthful education and many of the other calls that have emerged over the last two years are about dealing with what we’ve inherited so some people don’t have to die, or go hungry, or go without housing, or keep getting paid less.

    Those “wisdom teeth” of the US — racism, homophobia, gender violence, ableism, etc. — are still festering. We were born into it, and maybe we didn’t create it, but all of us will suffer if we don’t deal with it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you very much! The history of this nation, especially the south, is dark. I thought for a time we were coming out of the darkness, learning that people are … just people. Some are good, others not so much, but it has nothing to do with the colour of a person’s skin, their gender, their religion … it has only to do with how they think and what is in their heart. And then … along about 2008, I began seeing the racism rise to the surface again. I begin to wonder if humans are simply so flawed that they cannot overcome their prejudices. But I know for sure that if we keep trying to cover up our past rather than show it for what it is, we will certainly continue on this slide back into the darkness. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Jill, John Oliver, once again, has an excellent piece on Critical Race Theory and how it has become a bumper sticker. His major point is the lack of veracity of those arguing against CRT belies their success in using anti-CRT as lightning rod. When a party’s true economic message is give more money to rich people (and corporations) and let it trickle down, it must mask that goal with social issue messages. Sadly, creating fear works in that regard. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I found the John Oliver piece and will watch it later today. He is always spot-on in his assessments. It seems to me that all those people who are adamantly against critical race theory don’t even fully understand it! It’s become a talking point, or as you say, a lightning rod, by those who have the least understanding of it. And that ignorance is leading to an increase in racist incidents, in racism itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, thanks. I hope you enjoy it. The whole point of bumper sticker labels is not education, it is fear. The label is intended for the reader of only the label to fear it and vote against it. It is a lazy argument that works too well. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • I just now watched John Oliver’s piece and … wow! That is the best assessment I’ve ever heard! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction … EVERYBODY needs to watch that! Maybe I’ll have to help it along a bit …


  11. I agree with you that true history needs to be taught in order to understand the present- but history hasn’t been effectively taught in the us since at least the 70s. Today, history is manipulated and presented in a way designed to make students connect themselves to that history and feel guilt, shame or anger about themselves or their peers- all based on things they, themselves, never did.

    When it comes to policy- of course it’s left open-ended. It’s all theater for votes.

    So yes- teach the truth and allow students to use their critical thinking skills and form their own opinions about the truth. Next, teach that every opinion is worthwhile and valued and deserves respect. Then debate- have students use discourse to try to persuade others that they are right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “To persuade others they are right.” Isn’t that what has humanity, not just the US, in the position we are presently in? Christians want to persuade everyone that not only is there a God, despite all evidence to the contrary, but that their God is the only god worth woshipping! ( I won’t go into how the different denominations fight amongst themselves about differences in beliefs here, that would take forever, and we do not have forever to come up with a solution!)
      To continue, Whites want to persuade everyone else they are superior to every other race! Men want to persuade everyone they are superior to women! Heterosexuals want to forbid people from being homosexual, an extreme form of persuasion. And now, Repuhlicans want to persuade everyone else they are the ONLY ONES who know how everyone shoild live. I could go on, but surely you get the picture.
      Persuasion is the bane of our society. “Nobody knows how everyone should live!” So live your own life the way you want to live it, and allow everyone else to live “their lives” the way they want to live them.
      Laws are meant to keep everyone in a society safe. They are not meant to CONTRIOL. The laws that are being passed by many governments these days are intended to control “someone,” someone who does not look, think, or act like the people who believe themselves to be the “controllers!” Those are the people who are destroying our societies. They claim they want freedoms. What they want is to control what freedom means, and who is allowed to be free.
      And life does not work that way!

      Liked by 4 people

      • I am saying persuade others in the form of debate. That is the foundation of a two party system. We are currently living in times where people are unwilling to listen to the other side and discuss in a healthy way.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Then I would say “persuade” is a bad choice of words. I would offer “argue,” as in arguing a case in court, but that word also carries baggage. Why not just leave it at debate, and end it there. If the debate can change someone’s mind, sobeit. But “persuade,” that is a horse of a different colour, purple. Totally out of place. Just my opinion.

          Liked by 2 people

            • Still not my cup of tea. I find persuasion unethical, unless the persuadee wants to be persuaded. It just how my boat floats. I found my preference, “to cause to think.” That leaves the choice up to the lustener.

              Liked by 1 person

    • “Today, history is manipulated and presented in a way designed to make students connect themselves to that history and feel guilt, shame or anger about themselves or their peers- all based on things they, themselves, never did.” Only white people think that way, They know their ancestors were criminals against humanity!
      My heritage is 50% White, 50% Indigenous. My ancestors are guilty of being both the conquerers, and the conquered. The descendents of the conquered are not looking to make anyone feel guilty or ashamed about the past. What is done is done. What the descendemnts of the conquered want is acknowledgement that crimes against humanity did happen, AND THEY WERE NOT OUR FAULT. The descendents of the conquerers try to teach that their ancestors did nothing wrong, that they did not destroy our civilizations BECAUSE WE WERE NOT CIVILIZED. We were civilized all right, just NOT BY THE CONQUERERS’ STANDARDS! That is on the conquers, not us. The problem today is, the descendents of the conquerers are STILL TRYING TO SAY the descendents of the conquered are less civilized than they are. The way things are today is not about guilt, or shame, but about stopping the divide between conquerers and conquered.
      We are all people, human beings. The descendents of the conquerers are still trying to deny the descendents of the conquered a place in conquerer society! This is inhumane! This is insane!
      Further, the descendents of the conquerers are treating the descendents of FORCED SLAVERY as if they too are less than everyone else. WE ARE ALL EQUAL! No one is more equal than anyone else! But reality says different. People of colour are treated like second-class citizens. We are NOT second class citizens!
      (My apologies to all people who are not trying to keep these artificial barriers in place. We thank you for that. Unfortunately, there are still a huge group of people who want to believe they are somehow superior to everyone else. In North America and Europe and other places around the globe, that group includes only White People (but not all white people). This comment is directed at those who think race matters. It does not!)

      Liked by 4 people

      • It seems my whiteness may have been triggering. Regardless, I still feel that history should be presented as a narrative of what has happened in the past so we can use it to improve the present and the future. Each person should be able to form their own opinions and those opinions should be respected, discussed and debated.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Exactly. But to say that teaching is causing guilt or shame, that is not what teaching is doing, unless the shoe fits. As I said, I am as much white as I am a person of colour. I could easily be made to feel guilty for the crimes of the past, but where would that get me. If I can live with myself, embodying two different races, or more, anyone can live with everyone else. It is just a matter of acceptance. And acknowkedgement!

          Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmmmm … I’m not sure I agree that history is being taught in such a way as to make young people feel guilt and shame, but rather to warn them about the dangers of the things that have been done in the past. I do agree with you, though, that we MUST teach critical thinking skills, teach young people to think for themselves, to reason, to understand, and to be better than those who would rule with built-in prejudices.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. “I like pineapple on pizza!”
    Up to that statement, despite your warped views on Ukraine and Putin, you were still my friend. But ananas on pizza is an unforgivable sin. It undoes all of humanity’s achievements of the last ~30,000 years. 😮

    Liked by 2 people

    • WOW!!! I’ve known some people who really hated the idea of pineapple on pizza, but this is the first time I’ve lost a friend over it! And the first time I’ve heard it claimed that it undoes all of humanity’s achievements over however many centuries!!! Sorry … but do me a favour … try it just once … you might find that you actually like it! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Were I living in any such state where such a law has been passed, I would cause myself to be arrested for breaking said law, and I would fight in court that nothing condemned by said law makes me uncomfortable, and should therefore not make anyone else uncomfortable either. And I would hope that every other good citizen in the state would cause their own arrests so that the court systems would be so jammed up that it would cause the justice system to grind to a halt. (No class action suits allowed.) Demand justice, dmnand a trial by jury. Give them enough cases it would take 400 years to clear them all.
    And that is what I would do. Use the justice system to defeat the stoopid politicians who think they are superior to anyone else. They are too stupid to e superior to anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. That’s like what is, currently happening in the country where I live right now, with the government, attempting to change what is taught in the history textbook, erasing all of our, ancestries, this is a means, for, governments to control us, by, getting rid of our pasts, because the less we know, the easier it would, for them, to, leas us, and, because we lacked our own, judgments, we will, follow those leaders, tohell, if that’s, where they’re, taking us. This is, truly, bad!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you … it is beyond bad … it is terrible. Just as an individual cannot simply erase the parts of his/her past that he does not like, a nation cannot hide the dark parts … unless, of course, said nation hopes to return to the dark days of its past. But eventually, the truth will find its way out and there will be outrage by the people for having been lied to. Hang in, my friend. Keep safe.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.