Buffalo massacre: NYC teacher encourages discourse in history class


A New York City teacher has encouraged healthy discourse of societal issues in a history class.

Sari Beth Rosenberg who has been teaching U.S. History and AP U.S. History for the past 20 years says she is thankful that she could address what happened during the Buffalo massacre and connect it to topics related to racism.

“Just this past Friday in my AP U.S. History classes, we finished watching Spike Lee’s 2018 film, ‘Black KkKlansman’ about a Black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan,” said Rosenberg.

“My students were riveted and rightly sickened by the rampant racism and antisemitism of the clansmen depicted.”

Rosenberg said she had made it her mission to teach the truth in her class and link current events to what they are learning in the curriculum.

“Following one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent history, I found myself once again grappling with how to discuss a horrific mass shooting at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York,” said Rosenberg. “I couldn’t help but reflect on what parts of these class conversations would be banned (or even just discouraged) if I did not teach in New York City. I also worried about the dangerous repercussions of proliferating state laws limiting what teachers can say about racism in America.”

Rosenberg asserted that the United States is confronted with multiple crises including COVID, gun violence, climate change, white supremacy, and systemic racism.

She deemed it an educational malpractice not to provide the students with time and space to discuss these topics, including the Buffalo shooting.

Encouraging fellow teachers, Rosenberg made the following suggestion: “For teachers facing laws restricting how they teach about race, I suggest Dr. Yohuru Williams’ method of teaching by proxy, or teaching about controversial topics through the lens of other similar historical events.”

“My heart goes out to teachers forced to choose between teaching the truth and keeping their jobs. I hope we find a way back to a place where all educators can teach an honest history of America — one that doesn’t shy away from the truth and painful current events like the tragedy in Buffalo.”

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