In our polarized society, education systems have been subject to attacks from both the right and the left for generations; however, a new buzzword pertaining to curriculum has made its way into the political agenda in the past year: Critical Race Theory (CRT). First, let us define CRT as “a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism.” It originated in the 1970s and 1980s by scholars to combat the lack of social progress made by the civil rights movements in the 1960s. Further, CRT focuses on demonstrating that racism is systemic in the United States’ institutions that work to preserve the dominance of White people. Recently, the theory has been taken hostage by political parties to further divide the country and obstruct U.S. education systems for the sake of political gain.
The fight over CRT education is a flashpoint in America’s monumental, immense, and provoking war over race, history, institutions, and what it is always really about: power. Further, it is an argument over how young Americans should be taught to think about our country.
There is fear that CRT indoctrinates youth into alienating White people individually for America’s problems. Republicans warn that CRT changes American history and educates that White people are inherently racist. Former President Trump even cites CRT as bordering on “psychological abuse.” However, CRT as a framework does not attribute racism to White people as individuals or even to entire groups of people but rather examines institutionalized racism in the United States. It further uncovers the relationship America has with racism, which worries many Republicans who are concerned with preserving the integrity behind America’s racist past and present.
The other side is also concerned as to how history will be seen. French-American political scientist René Lemarchand believes that banning CRT is an attempt to erase all “references to instances of racial or ethnic violence, no matter how well established.” Further, those in support of CRT refute Republican ideology that CRT victimizes Black people and villainizes White individuals. Supporters believe that CRT is a comprehensive way to view race relations as a tool to lessen existing institutionalized racism.
However, education should not be used as a political device in elections. CRT stems from a framework to view how “America’s entrenched relationship with racism affects American jurisprudence.” Students deserve a concrete, factual education that does not hesitate to appropriately shed light on history. Political ploys from any party should not affect formative education. If politicians would truly understand the purpose of CRT instead of using it as a descriptor for controversial racial concepts in the U.S., such as White privilege, systemic inequality, and inherent bias, the U.S. education system would be for the better. It would teach a less biased account of history and prepare students for real-world dilemmas. In fact, CRT might be the way to save American democracy since a prosperous American future depends on students understanding the true foundation of the country in which they live. With a proper CRT education, they have the power and understanding to promote the betterment of race relations in the country.