Academic Minute Podcast

Frederick Engram, University of Texas at Arlington – Teaching The Truth Should Not Be Controversial

Teachers aren’t always allowed to teach what they believe.

Frederick Engram, assistant professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington, explains why.

Dr. Frederick V. Engram Jr, is an Assistant Professor of Instruction with a joint appointment in the Department of Criminology/Criminal Justice and the Center for African American Studies at the University of Texas Arlington. Dr. Engram also holds an affiliate faculty role in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies within the College of Education. Dr. Engram uses critical race theory to help make sense of the African American experience with racism within both the higher education and criminal justice systems. Dr. Engram has published his work within media outlets such as Blavity, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Forbes. He is also a TEDx and nationally requested keynote speaker.

Teaching The Truth Should Not Be Controversial


Teaching the truth should not be controversial! As educators we find ourselves at the crossroads of a real racial reckoning. Where we have the moral obligation to decide to tell the truth or to continue to protect the oppressive voice. All across the country laws are being placed on the books aimed at silencing the most horrific parts of American history. Why? Because the truth of our past does not fit the narrative of their today.

62 years ago, then six-year-old Ruby Bridges had to be escorted to and from school by U.S. Deputy Marshals. Six years of age means that young Ruby was merely a first grader. Meanwhile today, all across the country in school board and legislative hearings we hear white parents demanding the elimination of stories like Ruby’s from textbooks. We see the smearing of critical race theory and the lumping in of all things related to American history as a means to eliminate them all. Critical race theory is not taught in schools.The only way for us to move beyond the horror of the past is to recognize its very real existence and how it is still affecting us today. No amount of racial neutral or colorblind rhetoric will ever bring us together.

Pretending that the enslavement of thousands of Africans in this country did not create the racial divide that still breeds tension today is ill conceived. We need the work of Nikole Hannah Jones and the 1619 project just like we need the work of Derrick Bell, and James Baldwin. The truth about Black history is that it is also American history and white and other non-Black students deserve the same opportunity to learn about it even if it is uncomfortable. It is in our discomfort that we are allowed to grow.

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