Initially critical race theory was introduced as a way to educate people on how racism has seeped into society where people of color have been ostracized in policy and institutions. Why don’t we gain some background information. Critical race theory can be traced back to the 1980’s, coined by scholars including Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw. They argue that even with all the fixes to the American legal system, racial injustice persists no matter how well intentioned the effort may be, because of the deep roots of systemic racism.
An example includes redlining, where some areas and communities were marked red because they were considered a bad rating for investments, which in no coincidence, were mainly communities for people of color. It’s effects are still seen today and by identifying the way racism continues to impact our world, we can be better equipped in dismantling it. This sounds like a great step to resolving one of society’s most ingrained issues. So why are people advocating against it?
The opposition, consisting of Republicans, argue that critical race theory will only harm white students by making them feel like bad people. Fox news host, Tucker Carlson has even gotten as far as to claim that critical race theory would lead to genocide. These fears of the Republican party are their key go-to's when discussing why students don’t need to be taught critical race theory. Not many of them are willing to acknowledge that racism is still an opponent to an equitable education system.
States including Idaho and Oklahoma have already banned the teaching of CRT which includes banning the teaching of biases, discrimination and the overall idea that the U.S. is inherently racist. Other states are discussing incorporating the same legislation. By not teaching about the impacts of racism we are admitting to still having it embedded in America’s institutions. Even without these policies put in place, the lack of education on America’s systemic racism is evident since we have generations of students shocked with being censored from history that should have been taught.
When will people start to talk about the underfunding of schools located in predominant BIPOC communities or their higher disciplinary consequences that are very much real, with the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office to back it up. Or why not discuss how the U.S. still has segregated schools, even after Brown v. Board of Education (more about the case: https://www.lawinsider.org/post/brown-v-board-of-education-a-momentous-day-for-the-educational-rights-of-the-african-american-comm), which according to Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell, only succeeded because it was beneficial not only to Black students, but white policymakers as well. There have been many attempts in trying to form an equitable curriculum, but the bills being passed are not very specific, and some people may argue that they are unconstitutional. This also leaves many history teachers with uncertainty on how to teach their lessons for the fear of backlash.
But history teachers are certain in one thing, history repeats itself. The lack of educating history, good or bad, can only result in a worse problem. In order to prevent past wrongs, students must be taught the foundations in which these systems were built on. In education, critical race theory helps students acknowledge the social inequities they encounter and by allowing students to be able to identify these problems, we truly live up to “liberty and justice to all”.