The 2019 Rutgers School of Public Health study, “Daily Multidimensional Racial Discrimination Among Black U.S. American Adolescents,” found that black teens face racial discrimination on average five times per day. This is unacceptable, and it is essential that we recognize this unjust and prejudicial treatment.
How can we accurately reflect the experiences of victims of racism, ensure that all members of American society experience equal representation, and establish systems for all said members to have access to fundamental rights?
The answer is teaching Critical Race Theory.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color, as defined by Brittanica.
The governor of the state of Georgia, Brian Kemp, stated that he disapproves of “Critical Race Theory.” Kemp wrote a letter to the Georgia Board of Education saying the subject is a “dangerous ideology.” This is problematic due to the nation’s legacy of erasing the history of oppressed groups.
I always found it amusing how former president Donald Trump was accusing the Left of not wanting to teach real American history, but in truth, it’s the GOP that wants to censor it. This has been shown on many occasions, such as when Trump and former Secretary of Education Devos worked to make the African-America story more palatable and sanitized, when it truth, it was nothing of the sort. Instructing kids that no, the “New World” was not a mostly uninhabited land meagerly populated by a blend of cordial “Indians,” or, that Europeans didn’t “find” this spot and “bring civilization” to it. That is dangerous?
We should do more to understand the relationship between slavery, culture, history, and the impact it has had on each of us. We should be taught how slavery led to the bigotry, specifically against Black people, that so many people currently face in the United States of America. There are many experiences like these, such as the way that the flawed and unfair modern day policing system was derived from slave patrols, and how promised reparations were never paid to people enslaved in the United States of America, or their descendants. For what reason should these true stories be hidden where no one will think to look, while the conservative ideal version of history is highlighted?
Although some small aspects of CRT, such as the idea of systemic racism, are taught in any well-instructed history class, no K-12 school has the capacity to teach Critical Race Theory to its young students. It is an advanced concept that is more commonly discussed in higher education settings. The Right is throwing around a term to evoke fear in conservative whites who fear being called racist. The truth of the matter is that countless white Republicans just see this country through the perspective of white nationalism disguised as patriotism. It’s not tied in with ensuring kids’ wellbeing, it’s tied in with securing the whiteness and white privilege of adults.
Critical Race Theory is American history. I’m optimistic that future generations, if educated and armed with said history, can begin to make the long overdue changes to the very fabric of our flawed society.