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Photo by Eliana Salcedo

Critical Race Theory: A Necessary Student Perspective [Opinion]

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In recent times, the term “Critical Race Theory” has become more prominent in debates. The big question being asked is: should CRT be taught in schools? While politicians and school board members decide their stances, not every person (which up until recently included myself) knows the full definition of CRT. And unsurprisingly, numerous falsities and misconceptions surrounding the argument are from those who are opposed to the idea of the new curriculum. 

To further make sense of the ongoing discussion of this particular topic, it’s important to thoroughly understand what CRT actually is.

Critical Race Theory is a movement organized to create a thorough analysis of the connections between race, law, and the power or oppression that is attributed to different races. The theory states that race is a social construct made to persecute people of color in a way that hinders them socially, economically, and politically. 

Simply put, it’s the examination of systemic oppression that people of color have faced throughout history, and still experience today. 

CRT has become a hot topic on the news in Georgia, specifically in relation to school education. Should we be teaching kids K-12 about the history of race and systemic discrimination? Would telling our whole history divide, or unite people of different races? 

Whether or not you are for or against the proposition, the decision has already been made for schools in Georgia.

Georgia’s State Board of Education has recently decided to stop teaching “divisive ideologies” in public schools, which is what they are categorizing CRT as. The board that ultimately made the decision is mainly composed of white members that have been elected by Governor Kemp, who is adamantly against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools. On June 3rd, the same day the resolution was released, Kemp made a statement on Twitter that “this dangerous, anti-American ideology has no place in Georgia schools.”

As a person of color and a high school student, it’s quite alarming to hear our elected state official deeming the theory “anti-American,” when the main purpose of the teaching is to fully examine our American history on a racial basis. Ironically so, Kemp’s decision plays directly into the reasoning as to why Critical Race Theory should be discussed. 

A common pattern we can see in government decisions as a whole is how certain races in the U.S. are overlooked, which leads people to wonder if the motives behind the government’s (and specifically Kemp’s) oppressionist ways are not just negligence, but systemic racism.

Furthermore, as the decision was made by ten white State Board of Education members and only three Black members, the outcome of the vote was predictable. The reasoning for why a vote regarding race was given to a mostly white panel is highly questionable, but unfortunately has become oddly familiar throughout American history. The chances are slim to none for more racial diversity in our education if the voting isn’t given to people representing diverse races.

This seems intuitive, even to a teen, though sadly not for those making these crucial and impactful decisions.

When I asked another Atlanta teen what her thoughts were of CRT, 17 year old Atlanta-area high school Zariah Taylor stated, “I think that it should be taught in schools because unfortunately racism is the fabric of America. America was literally built on the backs of slaves, almost every founding father or historical figure owned slaves, so to try and erase racism from the history books like this is ahistorical.” 

She continued, “American politicians love to lambast nations like North Korea and act like we are so different from them, when in reality we are seeing in real time that America is willing to prevent people from talking about these issues and is lying to their people by insinuating that America isn’t a racist country.”

Contrary to our Governor and Board of Education, some students do want to learn the history of Critical Race Theory. It’s disappointing to see how equity in our learning is less than adequate, and when even brought to light, adults in charge are still making the wrong decisions. 

Will change in our Georgia education occur with Kemp’s views in office? 

More than likely not.

But, is there still hope for our future?

Absolutely.


Eliana Salcedo, 15, is a reporter for VOX Media Cafe 2021.

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