Let’s talk about critical race theory

Race theory is about confronting the uncomfortable truths of our nation's past. Let's not let this confrontation be exploited for political gain. Instead, it can help us to grow.



July 20, 2021 - 7:27 AM

Start with some definitions and facts.

Critical race theory is an academic field that critiques issues of racial justice in the United States. It loops in the legal system and work of advocates to create a framework for understanding how racial discriminations works and is perpetuated in the United States.

It’s also not taught in K-12 schools, and has never been.

So why are right-wing ideologues exploiting this phrase? Why are parents swamping school board meetings? What’s going on here?

Put simply, many folks aren’t comfortable with exploring or dealing with the fact that the United States has a long history of racism. They aren’t comfortable with the basic history of our country. And thanks to a former president who spent four years fomenting divisions in our country, racism is a white-hot topic that can be exploited for political advantage.

Some folks who would want nothing more than former President Trump reinstalled in office (how that works they’re never quite clear) have decided to use this academic term as a way to frighten people. Now, anytime a class talks about race or racism, a certain subset of parents will be primed to believe that CRT has appeared.

That’s nonsense, and we want people to just take a moment and think.

Racism is real. It was real in the past. Slavery is the original sin of our country. And yes, while individual racism may be less prevalent today, Black families have accumulated less wealth and can live in neighborhoods with worse public services.

They may have less access to credit and high quality education and be less able to build businesses.

This isn’t a theory. This is the world we live in, and the world that our forefathers and foremothers created. We also don’t serve our students well if we create a fictional happy place where nothing bad ever happened in the United States of America.

Critical race theory isn’t the issue, and it never has been. The issue is looking honestly at the history of our country, and how we deal with the still-difficult issue of disparate opportunities and outcomes for people of color.

School boards shouldn’t be debating issues that are usually taught in graduate school. Students should learn the age-appropriate truth of their country.

And all of us should work to do better.

Topeka Capital-Journal