A New Generation Built on Lies - National Council of Teachers of English
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A New Generation Built on Lies

The National Coalition Against Censorship’s Student Advocates for Speech program was created in 2022 to provide participants with virtual advocacy training, opportunities to engage in national dialogues, and find outlets to amplify their voices. For the past two years, NCTE has worked in close partnership with NCAC on a project for student advocates to write op-eds about censorship issues that have particular meaning to them. For the next six weeks, these op-eds, written by students in the fall of 2023, will be featured here on the Literacy & NCTE blog. Student voices are often left out of conversations about policy, legislation, censorship, and access to a diverse and expansive education. NCTE and NCAC are proud to feature them here.


This blog post was written by Mariaelena Barajas, a 12th-grade student from Indio, California.

The past holds knowledge of both good and bad deeds. It is both gloomy and rejoicing. It can either break or make someone.

History holds the course of all previous actions. It covers all interactions, from political to social to religious to cultural. Many try to avoid their past to erase the sense of remorse and because they’d rather simply just forget.

How can someone erase all the suffrage and oppression African Americans have had to endure? As a normal human being, shouldn’t empathy be a normal human quality? My skin color is not white or black. My skin radiates a golden glow under the sunlight’s glistering rays. My eyes, brown as cocoa seeds that produce chocolate so sweet yet within it hides the dark bitterness of its cultivation that for years was worked by African slaves. My silky brown hair has become blonde and brittle in response to wanting to be more “American”—an effect of people’s remarks made on my appearance and on my ethnicity. As a Mexican American whose people have also faced decades of oppression, I too know what it feels like to sit in class and read about my people’s suffrage. Even more so, to feel an immense sadness when out of a textbook that is hundreds of pages long, only six are about my people.

Recently, I took an AP world history course at my high school. It sparked a new area of interest for me. Learning about the course of actions that took place in the past to lead us to where we are today fascinated me. One of the biggest concepts that I noticed continued through every era that we covered was slavery.

Over and over, it kept on repeating itself. Every era, a new form of oppression revealed. A new way in which white people found a way to be on top.

Now, I will admit that not everything I learned in my class was all unicorns and rainbows. But, it is important to learn about even the hard truths. Not knowing about them or refusing to learn about them would simply make your entire life a lie. Feeling uncomfortable is normal when learning about history. Many of the actions taken were very cruel and anti-humanitarian. Even so, by being informed we are able to slowly amend the wrongdoings of the past.

Many ethnic groups such as American Indians, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, etc. have always been looked down upon since the existence of this world. However, a recent event involving African Americans has left me questioning whether we are actually any better than where we were hundreds of years ago.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida convinced the Florida Department of Education to criticize the curriculum of AP African American studies in a January 12, 2023, letter. It was said that the course would negatively influence students by pushing forward a political agenda. College Board, a nonprofit organization, allows students to take college-level courses and earn both high school and college credit. After facing an immense amount of criticism by the governor and a threatened ban of the course, College Board decided to revise the curriculum of the course, removing lots of vital information.

Even as it appears that we know a lot about the past, in actuality, we do not. Lots of sacred texts and artifacts have been lost throughout the course of time. Nowhere to be found. There is much we do not know due to slaves being rejected as human and forbidden to learn to read or write.

Now, due to College Board falling under the pressures of a Republican governor, thousands of students will never know the complete truth about the history of African Americans. An entire generation—wiped and forbidden from knowing the truth. How is that for our First Amendment?

Who should decide what is worthy of being learned or not? Are our ancestors’ blood, sweat, and tears as a means to earn equality not worthy of being taught at schools? Will we allow generations to come to be uninformed about the history of our country? To be lied to? Everything that we have believed to be true will soon leave us questioning ourselves if no halt is put in place. If you see any form of censorship, report it to https://ncac.org/report-censorship. Use your voice. Do not allow your freedom of speech to go to waste, and stand up for those who for centuries were shut out to the outskirts. 



My name is Mariaelena Baralas, and I am going to be a senior this upcoming school year. I currently attend high school in California. I’ve lived here my entire life, and I am more than excited to start a Student Advocates for Speech club at my school, which has never been done before in any school near my area.


It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.