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A Brief Introduction to Critical Race Theory

Haley Mullins

Posted on May 22, 2021 12:46

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You may be hearing the term “Critical Race Theory” tossed around more often these days, but it’s not a new school of thought. As CRT becomes more integrated into school curricula, opinions of the practice abound.

What is Critical Race Theory?

The short answer: Critical Race Theory (CRT) poses that systemic racism is and has always been part of American society, and challenges the beliefs and practices that perpetuate inequality.

Since the stalling of the Civil Rights Movement sometime in the 1970s, the idea that racism is an everyday force that limits the freedoms, opportunities, and social mobility of racial minorities has gained traction. Now, a sizable following of scholars, activists, and politicians recognize the validity of the movement, which aims to examine the ways in which laws, law enforcement, education, and other institutions contribute to racial and social injustice.

Why is CRT being emphasized so much now?

The past decade has seen amplified news coverage of police brutality and the ways in which our legal system fails Black Americans. While the more recent stories of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others have ignited awareness and anti-racist activism, CRT suggests that the maltreatment of citizens of color is not a new issue. Rather, advocates argue that America's turbulent history has perpetuated the racist institutions that still exist to favor the hegemonic White establishment today.

Who opposes CRT and why?

The majority of the pushback against CRT comes from staunch conservatives. Those combating the spread of CRT suggest that the movement teaches a "falsified view of history" and is inherently "anti-American."  

As schools integrate CRT into their curricula, opponents of the framework have voiced their discontent towards their local Board of Education, claiming that teachers who implement CRT into their lessons are guilty of "indoctrination." The pushback against CRT in schools has resulted many teachers being harassed for copies of their lesson plans to prove how they're approaching America's history. North Carolina is the most recent of seven states to introduce a bill that bans CRT in schools, following Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, and Idaho.

Why do we need CRT in schools and beyond?

The teaching of American history has traditionally been taught through the lens of American Exceptionalism which urges us to acknowledge the trials the nation has overcome to establish democracy and freedom. Framing our nation's narrative in this way whitewashes and oversimplifies our history so that we are taught to glorify America and the white men who founded it. This glorification without examination hinders progress, perpetuates inequality and injustice, and prolongs the generational trauma of non-White Americans.

Critical Race Theory is not a demonization of the white man and American principles; if anything, CRT provides an opportunity for our nation to identify the roots of the problems, dissect them, and then develop policies that actually begin to heal and support the populations that have long been excluded from equal treatment under the law.

To deny the value of CRT is to deny the interconnectedness of life. Teaching students, policy makers, and everyone in between how to analyze our history from a variety of perspectives promotes the empathy, understanding, and introspection that is needed to create "a more perfect union."

Haley Mullins

Posted on May 22, 2021 12:46

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The Department of Education may be using financial grants to get schools to teach "Critical Race Theory" in classes.

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