Opinions on Debatable Issues #35
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the concept that “race is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies”. According American Bar Association, CRT is “a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in a society that emerged in the legal academy and spread to other fields of scholarship.”
Regarding CRT’s role in public schools, there have been heated discussions. In the U.S. In The Supreme Court school-assignment case, the decision was not in favor of Critical Race Theory. However, then-justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a dissenting opinion that: “It’s very hard for me to see how you can have a racial objective but a nonracial means to get there.” That is the cruel truth that many people do not realize. How can you teach the African slave trade without demonstrating and emphasizing European’s dehumanizing treatments of Africans and the later segregation that puts Africans at a long-lasting and systematic socioeconomic disadvantage? How can we solve a problem when we do not learn and examine the actual problem itself critically?
On a larger social scale level, systematic racism survives and thrives without people realizing that the issue is more than impulsive and ill-attitude of individuals but rather subconscious choices shaped by certain statutes. As wrote in Britannica, “laws that explicitly impose a neutral standard with respect to race are capable of addressing only the most egregious forms of race-based oppression and often have only limited (though still valuable) practical benefits for disadvantaged minority groups, affording them equality of treatment or opportunity but not equality of results.”The fact that racism remains rampant after the Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shows that more systematic reforms are necessary. The problem of police brutality is a defect of law that disproportionately targets minorities, especially African Americans. According to nature.com, Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police during their lifetime. There are no laws that specifically target minorities, but the power and immunity that police possess and other legal loopholes unintentionally contribute to racism. So many more issues fall into this category of racial disparity, including incarceration rate, death sentence rate, and housing inequality. They all require Critical Race theory to be addressed.
Criticizers of CRT believe the best way to address racism is to place race out of consideration. Those neutral laws give the impression that as long as those laws are in place, we are all treated equally and as the same people. Those misunderstandings send a message that, according to EducationWeek, that we all have the same dreams, values, struggles, and worries. The notion of “not seeing race” or being “colorblind” “serves to negate the cultural values and lived experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds.” In a school setting, individuals who embrace this universalism may see the knowledge and skills of students who are racially diverse as “liabilities rather than assets”. As a result, the special talents or traits of individuals cannot be fully developed and appreciated.
Some argue that people should reflect on hard work and merit rather than considering color. That’s unrealistic and detached from reality. I once interviewed my classmate Sam who is a black student with a 4.0 GPA and is good at playing football. He got into a great college, but people automatically contribute that to his excellence in sports rather than his academic achievements. He also got searched for his bag when he shopped at the mall because he is a black young man. No one cares whether he has a good grade or not. His skin color speaks louder than anything for him. In reality, there is no way that color can be ignored completely because humans are not machines that can be free from the influence of stereotypes. Also, the problem of racism is not that the merits are not being considered but rather the merits are being overshadowed by racial prejudice. Without addressing race itself, merits cannot be treated fairly.
Some also argue that students are not mature enough to learn about racial discrimination and they should wait until they become lawmakers or politicians and that learning those make them feel they are bad and oppressors. My response to those potential effects is that they demonstrate the necessity of critical race theory because the inability to accept a shameful history or examine the issue of racism objectively is white fragility and supremacy. There is nothing wrong to feel bad about something that our ancestors have done because both the blood and the glory are part of the legacy. It is necessary to teach students to face those painful pasts and learn to see the problems that last to today.
In addition, without CRT, students cannot get a comprehensive understanding of history and current events to see racism objectively.
As English teacher Mike Stein commented about the new law that bans CRT: “History teachers can not adequately teach about the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. English teachers will have to avoid teaching almost any text by an African American author because many of them mention racism to various extents.” We would not be able to comprehend the problem of racism holistically with all the nuances. Without CTR, students could hardly become adequately aware of the systematic defects to try to come up with solutions for those issues later. The goal of CRT, therefore, is to “equip students with the ability to change the systems, structures, and institutions that maintain racial inequities”, according to the DA District Administration.
Those who argue that the theory increases racial differences and impedes the cultivation of universal traits see achieving equality and anti-racism requires assimilation and leveling. However, racial differences are necessary and good because making everyone the same would be erasing the distinct identity and culture of different ethnic groups. Not surprisingly, if that happens, the dominant white culture will devour the others. People need to learn to embrace differences rather than eradicating them.
Some argue it gives a disproportionate advantage to minority groups while impinging on the rights of others and white students might feel demoralized to develop a distorted view of the issue. However, educators perpetuate CRT by consciously and intentionally “utilizing marginalized voices and experiences in the teaching of their respective disciplines to disrupt the default European orientation of the American education system”. They do not attempt to stifle white students’ voices. Rather, they bring more perspectives to the table to prevent partial stories.
In short, CRT is a crucial practice that can help address systematic racism from its root. Though facing the shameful past can be difficult and embarrassing, students can benefit from those experiences to become more informed citizens and critical thinkers that contribute to a more equal and happy future.
- https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01846-z \https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/
Check out other Opinions on Debatable Issues:
- The World Needs International Monetary Fund. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/04/03/the-world-needs-international-monetary-fund/
- Why Kids Should Continue Learn About Greek Myths https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/04/10/why-kids-should-continue-learn-about-greek-myths/
- Are Humans Inherently Good? I say YES. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/04/17/are-humans-inherently-good-i-say-yes/
- To Succeed, The Feminist Movement Must Address Toxic Masculine Social Norms. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/05/08/to-succeed-the-feminist-movement-must-address-toxic-masculine-social-norms/.
- Should Human Cloning be Legalized? https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/06/05/should-human-cloning-be-legalized/