The time has come to address yet another elephant in the room: Critical Race Theory (“CRT”). CNN seemed like a prognosticator when it predicted that CRT would become one of the most talked about issues. That day has arrived, and we should dismantle exactly what it means. According to CNN, CRT is “a concept that’s been around for decades and that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the US.” It is not a “Marxist ideology that is a threat to the American way of life,” nor is it “divisive, anti-American propaganda,” as Donald Trump referred to it during his unsuccessful campaign for reelection.
CRT seeks to tell America’s history — its true history — which seems to upset some. We cannot pretend that slavery, Jim Crow, and all other forms of racial discrimination never existed because they did. Trying to bury those facts in history does not make them go away. To get at the heart of what CRT is and what it purports to do, CNN spoke with one of the founders, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University. Crenshaw’s definition of CRT is: “Critical race theory is . . . an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.” Those beliefs are obviously not in the past, and we can learn from them. When we are not taught about every aspect of our country and how it derived, we remain ignorant. Perhaps some prefer to stay that way, and because they do, Republicans are now using CRT as their new battle cry.
CRT does not exist to make people feel guilty, and in fact, it is not specifically taught in many school systems at all. Yet, Republican governors — Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott come to mind — have banned it from their curriculums even though it is not taught. How ignorant is that? CRT is not “crazy liberal stuff,” as the Florida Commissioner of Education called it during his speech to a conservative, private university. It is knowledge, and knowledge is and always has been power. Choosing to ignore that knowledge or pretend it does not exist is not only ignorant, but also willfully ignorant.
Our children deserve the truth about our nation, both good and bad. No one is saying the United States is inherently racist, though racism obviously exists. The worst aspect of racism is its connection to ignorance, and while some may want their children ignorant, others do not. Just like any other class in a school’s curriculum, this type of course needs to be available. Make it an elective if you are afraid of it, but do not continue to pander to ignorance by labeling CRT as something “bad,” which Republicans are using to browbeat their supporters into submission through fear. It will, unfortunately, work on some, but we can always hope that enough of them will see what Republicans are doing and refuse to fall for it.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years