JUNE 29, 2021




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

I Stand With Truth-Telling In Our Schools — Who's With Me?

In recent weeks, the national discourse over whether Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project should be taught in public schools has come to a boil. The whole bruhaha feels like deja vu to me. 


I remember what my parents went through to ensure that my siblings and I had access to more accurate and inclusive versions of American history. I also recall the fight students at my alma mater, U.C. Berkeley, underwent just to make ethnic studies a requirement. It is hard for me to view the legislative push against content that exposes our nation’s twisted history of racism as anything less than an effort to keep people ignorant and wipe out the gains of recent decades. And given the work I’m doing today, I can’t help but wonder what this latest push back could mean for public media.

So far, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and New Hampshire have all passed legislation that restricts how teachers talk about race, white supremacy, etc. US News & World Report says bills are also being considered in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Will this mean no more Eyes on the Prize, I Am Not Your Negro, or Freedom Riders in the classroom? And what about the XR projects that are making the history of race in America an ever more accessible and visceral experience, projects such as Un(re)solved, POV: Points of View, and Greenwood Avenue?

Education has always been a core value of public media and K-12 school educators are huge consumers of the content BPM makers produce. Do we really want to lose that audience?

Just as the pandemic spread like wildfire in communities that failed to contain and neutralize it, the viral nature of these attempts to extricate scholarship and conversations about race from our schools is dangerous.

So, the question I have is, what are you doing to ensure that the age-appropriate content we’re producing for public media about race and racism continues to make its way into our schools? Share your responses on social media and tag us.


On another topic, I hope those of you who attended yesterday’s virtual workshop on NYC’s new Artist Corps grant program found it useful. If you’re a NYC maker who missed the workshop, you’ll find it here. We hope you’ll apply so you, too, can be one of the 3,000 makers to receive a grant.

I also hope all you tech storytellers will join my colleague Lisa Osborne tomorrow at lunchtime for another virtual installment of our ground-breaking talk show The Technically Brilliant Show. Her guest is Fabiano Mixo, a Brazilian tech storyteller who will discuss his innovative XR work and his experiences this past spring as our second MIT-BPM+ Fellow.

Fabiano Mixo

Fabiano Mixo

Finally, I want to give a shout out to Yvonne Latty, our friends at Latino USA and my BPM colleagues who worked on the Alzheimer’s in Color podcast. It won a Gracie Award last week. The award will be presented this fall in Beverly Hills. And congratulations to BPM filmmaker Sam Pollard for winning a 2021 Peabody for Career Achievement.

Excellence continues to run in the BPM family. Let’s keep it going.

Alzheimer's in Color

Black Public Media is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. Support for Afropop: the Ultimate Cultural Exchange and the 360 Incubator+ Fund comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. BPM is the only nonprofit that offers training, funding and distribution for projects solely about the Black experience. We are seeking foundations, corporations and individuals to help our work. For more information about underwriting and contributions, please contact Alisa Norris (Alisa@ blackpublicmedia.org). To donate, click here! In addition, you can donate to BPM through your Amazon purchases by going to smile.amazon.com/ch/31- 1335950.

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