Opponents of Critical Race Theory Don’t Even Know What It Is
They just don’t want students to engage with the concept of racism
I was probably never more militant than I was in the years when Afrocentricity was the new hotness. The early 1990s were a great time to come into one’s Black intellectualism. I’ve written about this period of time before, so I won’t belabor the point here, but it’s illustrative to present my interpretation of the philosophy from a previous essay:
[Afrocentricity] was not a religion or a political party or a nutritional regimen. It was a way to reevaluate history and the world… Afrocentricity was like learning a martial art, teaching its adherents how to redirect the colonizing flow of racist energies away from you or how to level devastating historical blows in classrooms that didn’t get the memo. It was a toolbox of lenses through which to see the world and find yourself in it, which was and remains deeply empowering.
Sound like anything else we’re tossing around the court of public opinion these days?
If you’re engaged with any of the dialogue about critical race theory (CRT), it might. As for me, all the back-and-forth about CRT is firing up my activist PTSD. I’ve been here before. I’m not eager to wage another intellectual culture war with people who don’t actually care about learning or my well-being. That said, a little clarification around the edges couldn’t hurt.
Everyone from politicians to PTA soccer moms are decrying CRT as some kind of reverse-racism movement. States including Texas and Idaho have passed legislation banning the teaching of CRT in schools, which breaks my brain because such legislation doesn’t remove the practice from classrooms. Critical race theory is an academic idea in which the tenets of society — politics, history, science, laws, art, etc. — are analyzed for context and contributions in an attempt to uncover how race and racism affect our society. You can’t remove something that isn’t there to begin with.
Students in K-12 classes aren’t being taught critical race theory. Students are not spending time poring over social studies units, deciphering how incomplete and improper historical narratives have contributed to the construction of systems of…