What is the critical race theory (CRT)? Why are so many politicians talking about it and wanting to make it illegal?
Let’s define what the CRT is. It is a construct created in 1989 by African American scholars to help explain why racism continued to exist in our country despite the apparent legal victories of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960’s. It also shows how racism has had a persistently negative effect on people of color.
“Critical race theory (CRT), intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. “
(https://www.britannica.com/topic/critical-race-theory -reference A)
According to the same reference above, three ideas that are central to this theory are as follows:
“(1) Race is socially constructed, not biologically natural. (2) Racism in the United States is normal, not aberrational: it is the common, ordinary experience of most people of colour. (3) Owing to what critical race theorists call “interest convergence” or “material determinism,” legal advances (or setbacks) for people of colour tend to serve the interests of dominant white groups. Thus, the racial hierarchy that characterizes American society may be unaffected or even reinforced by ostensible improvements in the legal status of oppressed or exploited people.” (A)
It is easy to appreciate why these scholars sought to define racism in our society. The Civil Rights movement had tried to move the needle on overt Voter suppression in the south, including in Arizona , and to make it a crime to treat people of color differently than White people. Yet in the 1980’s, people of color, especially African Americans , still could not get a loan for a home, move into neighborhoods with excellent schools, were being excluded from executive positions in business and were being treated differently than whites in society in general and by the police specifically. Overt discrimination still existed in their daily lives whether it be a dirty look at the grocery store or being followed by a salesman at Sears.
So why is the critical race theory defined as “hate” by politicians. Because it’s the truth for people of color in America and certain politicians are insulated from these facts. As a matter record, many events in our history have been removed from the curriculum. The education of school aged children in the United States of America omits many ugly facts concerning racism.
A quick history lesson on lesser known racist events in the remote and recent past:
• Lynching of African Americans continued in our country until 1964
• Tulsa- Greenwood massacre occurred in 1921 killing over 300 blacks and destroying a neighborhood over an inaccurate editorial
• June teenth is the holiday celebrated by African Americans as the end of slavery
• President Jefferson was one of 18 US Presidents that owned slaves. He had over 600 slaves on his plantation and impregnated a 16 year old slave he owned. He wrote that “ blacks were racially inferior and “as incapable as children.” Yet he did advocate for the abolition of slavery.
• President Obama won the Presidency twice while receiving four times the number of threats on his life than any prior President.
Why haven’t these historical facts been taught? Because it makes our country look bad. In 1619, slaves came to the shores on North America. Even after slaves were freed nearly two hundred and fifty years later, they were treated as less than second class citizens. We need to stop hiding our past and embrace it. Only by acknowledging our mistakes will we learn from them.
The answer as to why Republican politicians want to ban the critical race theory is because
1) a Democratic Administration suggested teaching it and
2) it paints America as intolerant of African American advancement.
The truth hurts.
The critical race theory is not racist nor hateful. It is my opinion that the critical race theory does NOT need to be specifically taught in our class rooms in order for our children to learn American History but it should not be made illegal. It is a valid description from the African American viewpoint of who we are as a country.
We have made huge strides in achieving real equality in our country by passing multiple hate crime legislations including the recent law spotlighting the rise of violence against Americans of Asian descent, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of color (US EEO Commission) and to finally make a real effort to support black owned businesses (USChamber.com)
As Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
We can continue making strides toward achieving these elusive goals by teaching our children the historical facts, even if they portray the United States of America in a bad light. The truth will set us free.
Gregory Jarrin, MD,