By Jasmine Kim
The topic of critical race theory (CRT) has become a popular and divisive topic in the news lately.
There are many people who are unwilling to acknowledge the systemic racism existent in our country’s history and how it impacts the present.
Critical race theory is an academic concept, and not a new one, that argues race as a social construct as well as that racism is not merely individual bias but also something embedded in our political institutions.
To understand the reason behind CRT’s rise in the culture, it is important to differentiate what it is and what it is not. Adversaries fear that CRT criticizes all white individuals for oppressing the Black community, while stereotyping all Black people as victims of injustice.
These concerns have spurred state governments and school boards from Tennessee to Idaho to ban the discussions and teachings of xenophobia within the classroom.
A fundamental problem exists in that these broad understandings are inaccurate representations of the framework of CRT.
CRT does not attribute bigotry and hate to white people as a group. Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race, according to Brookings Institution.
Racism can exist without racists. However, people are unable to separate the social institutions from their individual identity as an American, and they believe that they are the system. The impracticable separation of the two speaks to how normalized racial ideology is within American identity.
Additionally, people who set a clear distinction between the past and the present create a false narrative that the United States now consists of an impartial democracy. These individuals fail to recognize the reality that America is not free and equal for everyone.
CRT activists do not blame the current white population for what their ancestors did in the past, rather they claim that the white people alive now have a moral obligation to help combat the systemic racism that impacts the lives of many Americans today. The policies that suffocate this national awakening prevent the struggle towards a fair and just society.
The legislations passed by several states ban the discussion, teaching, and orientation that the United States is racist as well as conversations about conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression. These restrictions also extend beyond race to include gender.
Texas State Representative Matt Krause, for example launched an inquiry into 850 different books that addressed race and racism, sex, gender identity, as well as Black, Latino, and Native American history, according to CNN. This is just one example of states debating over how race and history are addressed in schools.
According to CNN, Krause directed schools to find material that “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Parents in Tennessee challenged a school’s use of Ruby Bridges’ autobiography complaining that depicting the white backlash to desegregation sent the message that all white people are bad. Ruby Bridges was one of the first Black children to integrate an elementary school in 1960.
The suppression of the development of students’ opinions and ideas in classrooms proves to be an inadequate education and reveals that racism exists within the system itself.
Colorblind ideology cannot be expected from a society that is far from colorblind. Xenophobia creeps into every aspect of people’s lives, whether this truth is accepted or not. The issue of racial discrimination in the United States should be confronted to create a better society for the future of students.