Last week, Florida banned the teaching of critical race theory in all schools statewide. Texas has also voted against teaching Critical Race Theory, but will instead teach the 1836 project, to “promote patriotic education.” In recent weeks, Critical Race Theory has been in the news with several school districts opposed to the teaching, but what exactly is Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory is an academic concept that grew from legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s’, developed by Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, as well as other legal scholars. The core idea of Critical Race Theory is that race is a social construct that is often embedded in our legal and social systems. In other words, it explains the ways in which race is not just a personal bias, but how it plays a bigger part in our world. It’s looking at race, not on the micro level, but on the macro level.
Critics of Critical Race Theory argue that it teaches hate, divides people into groups, and focuses on group identity over universal identity. And while I support the teaching of Critical Race Theory, because I know that race is a social construct, we should be more concerned that we don’t want to teach our children opposing thoughts. When did education become just a way to teach children what you agree with instead of giving them all the information and letting them research and understand what is the truth? It’s funny how we argue that robots are taking over the world, but we’re treating our children like they are robots and can’t think for themselves.
The truth is that America is a country that has believed the lie that wealth and success comes from pulling yourself up by your boot strap. But your success is more aligned with your skintone and the neighborhood that you live in. Who decided that one race is better than the other? Obviously, the race that benefits the most. The thing with history is that in the moment it can make the oppressor look like the oppressed, but in the future the oppressor is often shown for who they really are. Therefore, there is such backlash against Critical Race Theory. It’s the truth. And in this day and age of “alternative facts”, the truth is not something people want to address.
Critical Race Theory is also not taught in K-12 schools. It’s more an advanced way of thinking, that you would probably learn in college. So, the real question should be where is this backlash coming from? And to answer that look at 2020. As the world grappled with a global pandemic that highlighted social inequalities that are often built around race, and then add to that a worldwide movement around racial injustice and police brutality after the murder of George Floyd, we can understand why we’re now discussing critical race theory.
Learning the truth around race and our history is not easy. And as a Black woman, it does make me angry at times. But if you do not know your history you are bound to repeat it. In Germany, children are taught the truth about what happened in World War 2. Not as a sense of shame or pride, but with the understanding that this happened and we don’t want this to happen again. Dismantling racism in our society will not happen overnight. It is as American as eating hot dogs on July 4th. But you cannot change what you do not know.
I would implore our children, especially those in high school to ask themselves why don’t they want us to learn this? I never learned the truth about American History until I got to college. I was taught in my AP history class that the Civil War was about State’s Rights and while there is some truth to that, it was about a state’s right to own slaves. The truth was watered down. Our children deserve to have an enriching and fulfilling education, and that means teaching them about things that as a parent maybe you don’t understand. But instead of us hindering their education, we can allow them to teach us.