Critical race theory – why it should be taught in our schools

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Teaching critical race theory has become a subject of contention that has ignited a firestorm between its supporters and opponents. The truth is that many people are unaware or misled about what it really means. Critical race theory is a movement to help critically examine or explain the role of race and racism incorporated in our major institutions that play a part in denying African Americans basic human rights even today, especially as it applies to our laws and racial justice. One’s understanding on its relevancy (or lack thereof) is based on who is fueling the information and what their motive or objective is. Whether you are a supporter or critic of critical race theory, your opinion or view should be formulated by facts and not subjected to unsubstantiated information fueled by subjective racist views.

First, we must be honest in acknowledging that African American history (which is part of American history) has been diluted, whitewashed, and sometimes ignored in many of our predominantly White educational institutions. America seems to want to forget or ignore its historically poor treatment of African Americans consisting of dehumanizing, enslaving, disenfranchising, and denying Blacks of basic opportunities inherently afforded to White Americans. White Americans must realize whether they like it or not that enslaved African Americans built this country and made it possible for them to enjoy the generational wealth they now possess. But our judicial system has disproportionately targeted, penalized, and criminalized African Americans as a people.

Black history tells us about the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans in spite of the suffering and difficulties they endured as an oppressed people. The critical race theory attempts to analyze and bring to light the full extent of the modus operandi of race and racism in our judicial system to promote White supremacy and maintain the status quo which continues to keep people of color in their place.

Contrary to what many White critics argue, it is not about trying to make White people feel guilty. It is about exposing the truth so we can go forward. Some politicians have politicized critical race theory as a divisive tool using it to incite their constituents or base. They claim teaching the critical race theory intentionally makes White children feel bad or guilty about our nation’s participation and practice in enslaving and dehumanizing African Americans. But realistically it would only make White Americans more aware and adamant in initiating amends and correcting crucial iniquities needed in helping this country going forward.

Some cities and states have proposed or passed legislation against the critical race theory being taught in their educational institutions. I would think that intelligent people seeking the truth would be insulted and demand the right and opportunity to form their own opinion based on information provided educationally. Exposure to diverse ideologies and philosophies about events and occurrences is necessary for critical thinking and would be an injustice to the American people if not utilized, even if exposing our history may prove embarrassing, hurtful and guilt provoking.

In all honesty, we are literally facing an attack on freedom of speech which is daily being compromised. Having a handful of self serving, myopic people dictating laws and policies on what we can read or write will prove to be detrimental to our liberty and freedom in the future if we are not vigilant about what is happening now. Refusing to teach critical race theory only serves in the continuation of false narratives devoid of the truth in supporting a White supremacy agenda in our legal system and institutions.

I would imagine that most conscientious Americans have enough faith in their children to believe they are capable of forming their own ideas and opinions (good or bad) based on the information they are presented. They should have that right, devoid of those randomly picking and choosing what they personally feel should be taught or not taught based on their own subjective prejudices and biases. Depriving the country of the truth by refusing to acknowledge certain realities of our history has contributed to allowing systemic racism to infiltrate and subtly flourish in all our major institutions politically, socially and economically.

Hiding or refusing to acknowledge or teach the truth of history doesn’t help eradicate or correct the injustices and inequalities we see existing in this country. It allows it to continue. We must be aware of the snake oil peddling demagogues, politicians, and naysayers promoting hate and division by claiming that anyone who bring to light the inequities and shortcoming of this country is unpatriotic and ungrateful.

From my lenses as an African American, I see Americans who have a sincere love for this country   voicing their concerns to address and correct historical wrongs that could help catapult this country into making it better—honoring its claim as the best country in the world. Shouldn’t teaching critical race theory help acknowledge the extent and effect of race and racism in our legal justice system and institutions, thus allowing us as a nation to make much needed amends going forward?

Remember an illness ignored or untreated will only spread or become worse. Ones subjective feelings should not negate the truth in going forward. We must acknowledge and wash what is dirty to make it clean.

(Postscript: Should the teaching of critical race theory even be contentious at a time when we are considering the problems caused by the coronavirus, environmental disasters, and racial injustice? Could it be a smoke scream or diversion from dealing with more pertinent issues?)

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