Arizona House OKs critical race theory ban in constitution

Republicans in the Arizona House approved a measure on Feb. 17 that would ask voters to amend the state constitution to ban the teaching of so-called "critical race theory" in schools and bar any preferential treatment based on race.

A ban on teaching critical race theory has become a major political talking point for Republicans nationwide. It is not taught in Arizona’s schools, but that did not stop lawmakers from enacting a ban last year. The state Supreme Court struck that law down because it was unconstitutionally included in the budget.

Separate bills banning the instruction of critical race theory, which centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society, are making their way through the Legislature. But the resolution passed by the House would enshrine the issue in the constitution.

The bills and the amendment define the issue as teaching any course that places blame, judgment or responsibility on people of the same race or ethic group for acts committed by other members of the same group.

"Things liked this, this CRT or whatever we’re talking about, its something that’s riling up those voters," Democratic Rep. Lorenzo Sierra said. "Just don’t ask me what it is or where it’s being done."

Republican Rep. Walt Blackman of Snowflake, who is Black, said his issue is that the "whole truth doesn’t come out.

"They want to talk about part of the history," Blackman said. "And we want to put people in boxes and categories to make them feel guilty about something they had nothing to do with."

There’s not one person in here who owned a bunch of slaves," Blackman said. "There’s not one person in her who was a slave."

The 31-28 party-line vote in the GOP-controlled House on the topic that rose from an obscure academic discussion point to a political hot-topic sends the measure to the Senate. If the Republican majority there also approves it, it will be on the November ballot.

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