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Educated Americans should know U.S. history – warts and all

Conservative push attacks teaching critical race theory

On March 28, 2022

NEW ORLEANS (March 28, 2022) – Some 41 states introduced bills to restrict the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms, and 15 have imposed the ban since January 2021, according to an Education Week analysis.

Amazingly enough, such a bill was vetoed in Louisiana, along with 11 other states.

British statesman Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” America must keep that in mind as this conservative push tries to erase the struggles of black people during slavery and the continuing residual effects in the 21st century.

How can one be educated if you don’t understand the history of your own country – warts and all?

Critical race theory is a concept and intellectual and social movement that teaches race is not a biological but a social construct created to exploit people of color, according to Britannica.org.

The founding of critical race theory officially occurred in 1989, although its intellectual origins dating back to the 1960’s and ‘70’s. The person credited with the coining of the term is Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA’s School of Law and Columbia Law School, according to the New York Times.

Critics say it paints all white people as oppressors and black people as victims. But many scholars have said for years that racism has been fused into U.S. social institutions that result in different outcomes for different races: criminal justice, education, labor, housing and health care.

Most of the debate stems not from academic texts, but the fear that white students will be presented with self-demoralizing ideas, according to Brookings.edu. But if you can’t stand to HEAR about what black people had to go through (and Asians and Hispanics and even Italians at one point), what does that say about the degradation and suffering of actually having to live it?

The 15 states that have already signed a bill into law banning the discussion of critical race theory are: Florida, North Dakota, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to EducationWeek.org, “...most of these bills were centered on a list of prohibited ‘divisive concepts.’ ” – a list originated in an executive order in September 2020 and signed by then-President Trump. It has been revoked by President Biden.

The order banned ideas suggesting that one race or sex was better than the other, that all people of a certain race have an unconscious bias or that America is fundamentally racist or sexist, according to EducationWeek.org.

According to Brookings.edu, the critics of critical race theory believe all white people are being blamed for the institutionalized racism in the country. Brookings.edu states, “However, many Americans are not able to separate their individual identity as an American from the social institutions that govern us – these people perceive themselves as the system. Consequently, they interpret calling social institutions racist as calling them racist personally.”

Scholars and activists counter this belief by explaining that critical race theory is not blaming the white people who are living now for what occurred in the past, but it’s saying white people have a responsibility to support righting the wrongs of their ancestors that still affect African Americans today.

As Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons wrote in “Why are States Banning Critical Race Theory?” noted: “If we love America, we should want it to be the best it can be. Rather than run from the issue of racism in America, we should confront it head-on.”

We believe whites should stop hiding behind their fears and allow American history to be taught – the good, bad and ugly. All Americans must get the facts about how America was built on the backs of slaves and how today’s policies continue to impose unfair advantages to whites while blacks are “othered.” Only then can inequitable laws and policies be changed.

(Managing Editor J’Brionne wrote this editorial on behalf of the Courtbouillon staff.)

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