What Else Will Be Silenced? Critical Race Theory in Schools


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Storm Moore

You may have read news articles or seen videos with headlines similar to  “Florida board votes to ban critical race theory from state classrooms” or “New Florida bill would ban feeling of discomfort in teachings about racism in the US.” But what are they actually banning?  What is critical race theory? 

Critical race theory, or CRT,  has been taught in colleges since the 1980s. It is a course made specifically for college students. The goal of critical race theory is to educate students on the history of the United States of America. It shows how US social institutions were built on racism, the racism that is still currently affecting our laws, regulations, rules, and procedures. CRT is a part of us acknowledging our country’s flaws. Of course, some people opposed the theory, but the courses rightfully continued. These are college-level courses with adult students enrolled in them. 

You may be asking yourself if there really is racism embedded in our country’s systems. But you also have to ask yourself, am I not seeing these issues because they aren’t happening or because I am not experiencing them myself? You have to acknowledge your privilege when thinking about these things. Ways that racism is still embedded in American systems include housing discrimination, employment discrimination, environmental injustice, surveillance and criminal justice system biases, health care, and of course the school-to-prison pipeline. All of these things are more common than you probably think. They affect people of color all around the U.S., children, and adults. These forms of institutionalized racism need to be recognized, hence the creation of critical race theory. 

What started the recent hysteria was when critical race theory became an umbrella term. Parents would hear their middle or high school-aged children come home from school mentioning race or equality, and assume they were being taught critical race theory. Children K-12 are not learning CRT. They are learning age-appropriate material that involves racism and our correct history. 40 years later, CRT has lost its original meaning. CRT is now perceived as any course, in any grade that mentions race, racial bias, privilege, discrimination, or oppression.

Because these false and negative ideologies exist, people want “critical race theory” courses taken out of middle and high school curriculums. People hear the word “racism” and think it is a direct attack on all white people, when in reality it is all about the systems. These bans are depriving these K-12 students of basic knowledge. The people that oppose these courses want to try and decrease racism by not giving it any attention, something that will never work.

From my own personal experience, I know that I would have had a better understanding of our country if my high school loosened its restrictions and expanded the curriculum’s diversity. My high school history class portrayed the idea that America had four specific evolutionary phases: slavery, segregation, the civil rights movement, and equality. I wish we would have learned more about the real black history, and how inequity and injustices are still being fought today. Even though the racial-related subjects I was taught in high school were limited, I still had the opportunity to experience more than what some kids are currently allowed to learn.

When states like Florida, Texas, and many others ban “critical race theory” they are banning discussions, assignments, videos, and books that talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because of the ban, high school students can no longer take advanced placement courses that study black history. Books that have been banned include Maya Angelou’s book of empowering poems called And Still I Rise, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and even Anne Frank’s The Diary of a young girl. Books that have been taught for decades.  Erasing these books and courses in schools is erasing history. It’s pretty upsetting that a growing number of kids will not be properly exposed to knowledge about racism and true American history. 

American children deserve the opportunity to be properly educated. They should know how their country came to be, be able to observe others’ perspectives on an event or experience, and have the ability to detect flaws in our systems. Some of the people that oppose CRT are ignorant and scared of the unknown, while some are just scared to acknowledge the truth. They don’t want to acknowledge the history of our country because they think they are being blamed for it. They think if their country is being called racist then they are also being called racist. Some of this self-proclaimed guilt is due to confusion, ignorance, projection, some because of “white guilt,” and then some are actually racist. 

YES, some people are uneducated on the matter, and some are trying to hide what they already know. Either way, Both of these groups of people can spread misinformation. They say what they think they know. What they expect it to be. These false descriptions of “critical race theory” are very damaging. Other uneducated people will be influenced by these false descriptions, furthering the negative ideologies. If people took the time to understand what critical race theory is and where it is actually taught,  there would be less hysteria and unneeded anger. And most importantly, current American children might have a chance at being the generations to jumpstart the destruction of systemic racism.