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poetry Professor Bullhead & Critical Race Theory

The denial of racism in education is hardly new, as poet Peter Neil Carroll presents the story of a Native American reformer.

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Professor Bullhead & Critical Race Theory

By Peter Neil Carroll

                        “…a new scientific truth does not triumph by

                        convincing its opponents…but rather because

                        its opponents eventually die and a new

generation grows up….”  --Max Planck

He was soft-spoken, it seemed

when we first met, this son of

the Osage nation, introduced 

to me by a mentor we shared.

They were drinking Bourbon

at the hotel bar, headquarters

of the annual historical convention

at Chicago’s posh Palmer House.

Bullhead was about 30, though his

smooth skin may have made him look

younger. He knew a lot more history

than I did, but he was still seeking a job.

We met again a few years later, young

instructors, similar interests, but he was

still untenured looking for a safe niche.

He told me he had a plan to get promoted.

After the usual delays, he presented his plan

to the giants of our profession. Why not,

he asked, offer a course on Native American

history equivalent to ancient or medieval history?

Insults began before he finished. Dumb idea.

Worthless. How could Indians who spoke  

Algonquin be compared to Cicero or Duns Scotus?

Besides, a new course would reduce enrollments.

Bullhead interrupted the outrage and withdrew

his proposal, walked quietly to the door, then

slammed it shut like a blast of an atom bomb.

No one ever changed their minds, spoke regrets.

Peter Neil Carroll's newest collection of poetry is Something is Bound to Break (Main Street Press). He is a frequent contributor to poetry journals and online publications.