By: Beth Moore, M.ED.
This week I was at a County Commissioners meeting. I was disheartened by what I heard around the school budget and only funding them at the maximum amount if the school board wrote a policy saying they would not teach Critical Race Theory. This is problematic on a few levels. First, I am not convinced the Commissioners have a good understanding of what Critical Race Theory is, because if they did, it would be a non-issue for our K-12 classes.
Here is the true definition: Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a 40-year-old academic concept. The fundamental idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but embedded in legal systems and policies.
According to the American Bar Association CRT is not diversity and inclusion “training” but a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship. This is not taught to children, it is taught in advanced PH.D programs and law school.
Ok – So if you know that this theory is not being taught in our k-12 schools, the issue gets even more problematic. Critical Race Theory seems to have become some kind of code for not teaching anything about systemic racism.
The commissioners wanted facts – well here are a couple:
The oppression of an entire race of people for hundreds of years is fact. White people, specifically white men, created ALL of the systems we know today with bias. The systems are working exactly how they were designed, for white people. If we do not look at, critically think about and change policies, procedures and mindsets that harm people of color we are perpetuating racism- fact.
Until race is not an indicator of outcomes there is still systemic racism.
There were a few things brought up about white fragility. White people do not want to think of themselves as being complicit in perpetuating racism, however that is happening every time we “whitewash” history, or say things like “let’s all just get along and not talk about anything divisive.” That is what people are talking about when they say “white privilege.” As white people the privilege to not have to talk about racism or how it effects daily life is inherent. Our friends of color do not have that privilege- race is always operating.
Until race is not an indicator of outcomes for humans it is still operating.
There was also talk about indoctrinating students- well yes- that is what the banning of teaching anything divisive is. The very thing that brings us together is understanding, tolerating and accepting other’s point of views. When we discount the viewpoint of people of color, because we do not like what is being said or because it is uncomfortable to hear about how harmful racism truly is, we are perpetuating racism.
Good teaching can be divisive. Do we not still have debate teams? Complex issues are sometimes divisive- but the critical thinking part of teaching is to take those issues and solve them. History is often ugly and many mistakes are made at the expense of others. Our entire Country was founded on the destruction of indigenous people and succeeded economically because of the enslavement of people of color. We should not want past harms to continue to harm, yet every system has worse and worse outcomes for people of color.
Until we listen to the experiences of people of color and work to change the systems that caused those harmful experiences, systemic racism will continue to hurt our community.
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By: Beth Moore, M.ED.