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‘Critical race theory’ becomes a flashpoint in US public schools | Race Issues News



As part of a backlash against campaigns to emphasize racism’s historical and ongoing effect on inequality in American life, Republican lawmakers across the United States are moving to restrict how race is discussed in public schools.

Legislatures in more than a dozen states have considered bills that would regulate how teachers teach about race-related issues in classrooms. Many aim to ban “critical race theory”, a school of thought that holds that major institutions in the US are inherently racist and constructed by their nature to perpetuate white supremacy.

Throughout the country, local school board meetings have been filled with parents voicing concerns. Fox News, a right-wing television network, has aired segments warning about critical race theory for weeks.

Debate is part of US’s race reckoning

The moves come at a time when the US continues to grapple with how to address racial inequalities, more than a year after protests and riots erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of a white police officer.

The reckoning has divided Americans over how best to examine forces in society that lead to inequalities based on race. It has forced Americans to take a critical look at their country that some would rather avoid.

“There is a desire for a good past and good ancestry. Americans have a hard time holding things together in a complex way. I don’t think we’re very good at being able to accept the good and the bad together as a part of our own heritage,” said Marie Griffith, a professor at Washington University and author of Making the World Over: Confronting Racism, Misogyny, and Xenophobia in U.S. History.

“We can learn about the very difficult and painful parts of our past and do better without developing self-hatred. Your children are not going to start hating you and hating all of your ancestors simply because they’re learning this history. It should be an honor to grapple with that history.”

Arkansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma have already passed new laws that place restrictions on public school teaching related to race. Other states are considering similar rules.

Republicans: Critical race theory is divisive

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron Desantis, who signed a bill this week banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, said the new law would protect children from being taught that they are defined and restricted by race.

“I think it’s going to cause a lot of divisions,” Desantis said. “I think it’ll cause people to think of themselves more as a member of a particular race based on skin color, rather than based on the content of their character and based on their hard work and what they’re trying to accomplish in life.”

Tennessee’s law, which goes into effect July 1, bars instructors from teaching that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.”

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, said it was important for schools to emphasize “American exceptionalism” instead of dwelling on topics that “inherently divide”.

The new laws raise alarming questions about academic freedom and the power of state governments to restrict having difficult – but important – conversations around race, said Adrienne Dixson, a professor at the University of Illinois who specializes in the intersection of race and education.

“It is unfortunate that politicians want to limit literally what we can know, what we can think and what we can talk about. That’s concerning,” Dixson told Al Jazeera. “It should be frightening for everyone, no matter what you think about race.”

The primary question dividing those on both sides hinges on whether one thinks that racism is a symptom of individual bad actors or an inherent flaw built into American systems of government, business and education.

Jonathan Butcher, an education policy scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argues that critical race theory would perpetuate discriminatory attitudes instead of reducing them.

“It’s very different to say that these are individual acts that we condemn and to say that the American government or that public institutions are inherently racist,” Butcher told Al Jazeera.

“It robs children of the opportunity to understand that this American promise of opportunity for everyone regardless of the color of their skin and equality under the law is available to them.”

Dixson, however, said that critical race theory merely explores a truthful part of American life that has long existed.

“This isn’t history that critical race theory or people of color are making up. This is documented history. We know this factually. We’re reckoning with that history and ensuring we don’t replicate it,” Dixson said.

“Racism doesn’t have to be overt acts where someone is using racial epithets or there are explicit policies to restrict people of color. But maybe it could be ensconced in our policy in ways that we are unaware of because we’ve internalized certain rhetoric or beliefs about who is deserving and who isn’t.”

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New Zealand’s Hubbard selected as first transgender Olympian | LGBTQ News




Laurel Hubbard, 43, will compete in the super-heavyweight women’s event in Tokyo.

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after being selected by New Zealand for the women’s event at the Tokyo Games, a decision set to test the ideal of fair competition in sport.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said 43-year-old Hubbard – who was assigned male at birth but transitioned to female in 2013 – had met all the qualification criteria for transgender athletes.

“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said in a statement.

Hubbard will compete in the super-heavyweight 87-kg category after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard, an intensely private person who rarely speaks to the media, said in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday.

Hubbard has been eligible to compete at Olympics since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Some scientists have said the guidelines do little to mitigate the biological advantages of people who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density.

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes mean there is never a truly level playing field.

Save Women’s Sport Australasia, an advocacy group for women athletes, criticised Hubbard’s selection.

“It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category,” the group said in a statement.

Weightlifting has been at the centre of the debate about the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women, and Hubbard’s presence in Tokyo could prove divisive.

Her gold medal wins at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where she topped the podium ahead of Samoa’s Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, triggered outrage in the host nation.

Samoa’s weightlifting boss said Hubbard’s selection for Tokyo would be like letting athletes “dope” and feared it could cost the small Pacific nation a medal.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said last month allowing Hubbard to compete at Tokyo was unfair for women and “like a bad joke”.

Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.

Hubbard was forced to withdraw after injuring herself during competition, and thought her career was over.

“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end,” Hubbard said on Monday, thanking New Zealanders.

“But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness.”

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said Hubbard had worked hard to come back from the potentially career-ending injury.

“Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform,” he said.

Hubbard is currently ranked 16th in the world in the super heavyweight category.

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News




Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title




Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.

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