Brian Stelter says 'whitelash' against 1619 project is result of 'white Americans' being afraid to 'deal with the reality'

"I think we're gonna look back someday and say, 'Wait, they tried to ban the 1619 project?' Like, we're gonna look back, it's gonna make no sense in 30 or 40 years," said Stelter.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Sunday, CNN's Brian Stelter sat down with 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones to talk about the widespread backlash the controversial project has received in the American public.

"I think we're gonna look back someday and say, 'Wait, they tried to ban the 1619 project?' Like, we're gonna look back, it's gonna make no sense in 30 or 40 years," said Stelter on Sunday's airing of Reliable Sources.

"But is this just the whitelash in another form Nicole, just, you know, some white Americans afraid to deal with the realities, so they don't want to hear it, they try to ban it, and then someday their kids are going to laugh it off," Stelter continued.

"I mean, I don't know, I think that this is a particularly dangerous moment, because there's one thing to have right wing media saying they don't just they don't like the 1619 project," said Hannah-Jones. "They don't agree with the 1619 project. But it's quite something else to have politicians from state legislators down to school boards actually making prohibitions against teaching a work of American journalism, or really any of these other texts."

"The fact that we are all talking about this, this fake controversy called critical race theory really speaks to how successful the public propaganda campaign has been," Hannah-Jones continued.

Critical race theory has been a hot topic at school board meetings across the country in recent months, with parents issuing fiery condemnations of the teaching that is occurring in school curriculum, whether under the name of critical race theory or not.

"I don't think it's just about you know, scared white parents. It's about a politicians savvily stoking racial resentment in response, I think, to the global protests last year, in order to divide Americans from each other, and they're being quite successful," said Hannah-Jones.

"We're not just seeing bans on the 1619 project, we're seeing parents who were saying, 'we don't think you should teach the story of Ruby Bridges' because that makes white children feel bad. We're seeing bans against the teaching of Martin Luther King's works, right?" Hannah-Jones continued. "So this is actually trying to control the collective memory of this country and trying to say we're just going to purge uncomfortable truth from our collective memory and that's very dangerous."

"And it's coming from the same direction that I always hear condemnations of canceled culture. I'm always hearing that they're against canceled culture. And then I'm seeing cancellations happening," Stelter noted.

Earlier this year, Hannah-Jones turned down a tenure offer at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill after fighting to get the offer. The university originally denied a tenured professorship position to Hannah-Jones, and then offered it after backlash.

The 1619 Project, which Hannah-Jones penned for the New York Times, looks to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative."


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