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Graduates of Gehlen Catholic, a private school in Le Mars, wrote a letter to the school board in hopes of convincing the institution to alter its curriculum in key ways.

“We ask that the school, grades Pre-K through 12th grade, teach anti-racist curriculum rather than the ‘color blind’ approach used for decades,” it reads. “Additionally, do not rely on faculty, students and staff of color to teach white people about racism.”

The letter asks that the school craft curriculum that is inclusive of black and indigenous history which specifically addresses “systemic racism and white privilege.” It also wants the school to “teach and reteach” about the “genocide” of Native Americans, chattel slavery and police brutality.

In addition, the letter states the school should “end the heroficiation of leaders of the past because they were human and not perfect.” It also calls for purchasing new “anti-racist” textbooks and wants the school to “require” students to think critically about privilege and systemic racism continually.

“We ask that Gehlen leadership examine the role Catholic institutions have played in creating and perpetuating systems of oppression, racial and otherwise, and bring that examination into the classroom,” the letter says. “Be aware of the white-savior trope perpetuated by mission trips. Humanize Hondurans by teaching Honduran literature, history and politics. De-vilify the unlawful immigration of Honduran refugees by educating students on the economic, political and social causes of Central American migration and the Catholic teachings on welcoming the stranger.”

The author of the letter said they were “appalled” to see a lack of Gehlen students, board members, faculty and staff at a Black Lives Matter protest in Le Mars.

“Furthermore, Gehlen’s Facebook page has posted nothing about the Black Lives Matter movement. What does this action (or lack thereof) suggest to black students at Gehlen? Inaction toward racism does not benefit humanity and certainly does not shape a future that improves on the past. Inaction toward racism perpetuates white supremacy,” the letter says.

The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Author: Jacob Hall