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It’s now a common trope to claim that the United States is so deeply racist that massive structural changes are needed in how government and private institutions operate. That dangerous claim has gained exceptional influence at all levels of education—from elementary school to graduate-level programs. But this idea rests on a wholly misguided understanding of the facts on the ground.
It is surely correct to mourn the death of any individual, regardless of cause. But it is also imperative not to make false causal accusations, as protesters have done, by attributing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans to entrenched police brutality and institutional racism. It is not just activists who make this claim. It also our governing organizations. The New Jersey Educational Association uses the Black Lives Matter banner to advocate a major reformation of the education system: “It is impossible to see the video of [Floyd] being strangled under the knee of a police officer in broad daylight on a public street and not be disgusted, horrified, angry, [and] sad.”