By Lawrence P. King
[This is a guest opinion article by Lawrence P. King, consultant and Publisher of Stem News Chronicle]
Critical Race Theory is a collection of research themes addressing education by activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. It holds that racism is baked into the formation of the nation and ingrained in our legal, financial and education systems.
CRT emerged out of law schools in the 1970s and isn’t really taught in grade school today. It is being called racism and compared with the Ku Klux Klan but, it is only a continuation of essential scholarship that should not be limited.
I was taken aback, but not surprised by the anger and fear expressed during public comment protesting Critical Race Theory by members of my Cobb community. The stage for discontent was set during an earlier school board meeting with the decision from a divided board to ban teachers from discussion with students about the 1619 Project along with critical race theory (CRT).
Secondhand social media postings and angry phone messages were brought to the attention of the chair of the school board, and moved him to conclude that CRT was Marxist ideology and a revised interpretation of American history. From my limited knowledge of Marxism and education, CRT instead seems to aim at growing creative, productive, and faithful citizenship.
It teaches students to compete with their fellow pupils by doing their best. It also states that a ruling class has the power to control the working classes not with force but with ideas. Racism is certainly an idea that some, but not all have practiced over our history.
Our students learn about the nation’s history through independent study, movies, and television and are not misled by teachers being bridled when discussing reasons for social unrest in the 60s or protests following the murder of George Floyd.
The boycott of Birmingham’s buses was not caused by the need to reduce fares, it was a response to racism. Students know this; teachers know this. So why ignore it in history class? Hundreds of Black lives were lost in Tulsa in 1920 because public safety forces and the national guard joined a racist mob to destroy an entire community.
CRT is not a danger or a revisionist strategy to indoctrinate our children.
If we don’t want little white girls in East Cobb and elsewhere to grow into the next Marjorie Taylor Greene, then the role of race and its influence on our legal and financial systems need to be compassionately and fairly shared in school lessons.
Free our teachers and allow them to teach.
Today leading academics are expanding the research and analysis beyond education to include access to medical care, wealth accumulation, affordable housing, and law enforcement. It is understandable that established political, social, and cultural thinking feels threatened and resistant to accepting what is expected from living in a multicultural society. Recently this topic is being raised in discussions by parents, groups of educators, school officials and even by political personalities on the fundraising pitch.
I was compelled to take my own look at the topic to gain a deeper understanding of why CRT makes some people’s blood pressure rise. As an engineer by training and part-time consultant and math tutor, I am persuaded by theories that have factual basis with the characteristic of verified repeatability. CRT only recognizes and explains how features of racism affected our history and how it continues to do so. Blame is not laid at the feet of any single group that succumbed to racism just because of their ingrained preconceptions and generational experiences. We all have them and make choices because of them.
Teaching through a CRT lens as part of inclusion at Its essence as a way for us to view history and the function of wholistic teaching history (and science) from a broader perspective to enable and improve our judgments and decisions. While I do not subscribe completely to all CRT tenets, they do help me frame this discussion with what I believe is reasoned thinking.
Delgado takes the position that racism is ordinary and that it advances the interests of both white elites and working-class people and that a large segment of our society has little incentive to eradicate it. Hartlep’s position is that the ethos of the dominant majority promotes and promulgates a notion of “color-blindness” and “meritocracy.” Each notion intertwined and served to marginalize certain enclaves of people—predominately people of color.
These tenets of CRT require a deep understanding of historical social and cultural norms of race and what constitutes a race. CRT holds that race and races are products of social thought, not objective, inherent, or fixed biological reality and only a societal invention by the majority to conveniently manipulate. I am a Black male as Muddy Waters says, “who is way past twenty-one”, and it took me a bit of thinking to grasp all of what this means.
I see no need to count the tombstones marking persons persecuted due to race on the road of history in America. That is not my purpose. I only want to ask those who castigate teachers for explaining the motive for driving Native Americans west out of the southeast and the reason for the compromise in the 1787 Constitutional Convention that counted Blacks as three fifths of a person to take a breath. Blacks were then most of the population in the south and the fear was apportionment of electoral votes based on a state’s population.
Negative reactions to critical race theory have reached a fever pitch, with news stories depicting emotional parents at heated forums decrying what they believe to be the ills of critical race theory. There is an energized conservative movement fueled by activists and politicians, including Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who claim Critical Race Theory is divisive, hostile, and anti-American, obsessed with race and “hateful lies,” and teaches kids to hate each other.
Critical race theory is not hostile, divisive, or anti-American. This characterization, in my opinion is a politicized misrepresentation of the theory that prevents and penalizes any discussion of the idea that systemic racism is, unfortunately, still very much present in American society.
Like a few other counties in Georgia, Cobb’s struggle to adapt to change driven by culture and faith based racial and political dynamics divides our community.
Slavery occurred. Native-American removal occurred as did Chinese removal, and Japanese internment. For a brighter and inclusive future for Cobb, lets relax the temperature around CRT.
Lawrence P King is a consultant and Publisher of Stem News Chronicle a resource for free newsletters and subscription Premium White Papers developed for a global audience of educators, scientists, engineers, and business executives that support diversity and equity in STEM education and careers. https://www.snchronicle.com
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