• September 24th, 2021
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What’s the Beef with Critical Race Theory in Public Schools?


Photo: Courtesy Ramón Del Castillo
Ramón Del Castillo

The originators of Critical Race Theory (CRT) challenged the supremacy of law, arguing that law was also flawed by the same White Supremacy that governed relationships in American society since the founding fathers established the US Constitution. CRT is a movement that studies and attempts to transform the relationship between race and power by examining the role of race and racism within the foundations of modern culture. Those scholars who subscribe to the principles of Enlightenment see it as a movement regarding modern views of equality and law. (Solorzano, Daniel; Villapando, Octavio; Yosso, Tara: Critical Race Theory in Chicana/o Education.)

 

What’s the beef with Critical Race Theory in public schools?  Supporters argue that CRT shines the limelight on those who have used White Supremacy to control the curricula in public schools since at least the development of public education and believe it needs to be confronted. Literary scholars refer to the process of controlling the story as the Master Narrative, a purported stranglehold on truth; when in reality this version of the truth is used to justify the current social arrangements.

 

Unlike traditional approaches to civil rights, which favor incrementalism and step-by-step progress, CRT calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism and the neutral principles of constitutional law, “(Critical Race Theory: An Introduction; (In the first edition of their book (2001), Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, (p.3).  CRT theorists challenge educators and school districts to take the responsibility to rewrite history with a version from the perspective of Critical Race Theory in order to expose the current narrative written from a “white racial frame,” which essentially is believed to uphold systemic racism and white supremacy.

 

As the dialectic of White Supremacy, CRT should be scrutinized no different than other theories and perspectives.  It should not be free from critical examination.  CRT challenges historians, educators, public policy pundits, and right-wing politicians to treat CRT as a tool of analysis to examine history as told by the those in power.  What terrifies its opponents is that CRT has a commitment to Social Justice; challenging citizens to struggle in order to eliminate racism and other forms of subordination while empowering groups that have been subordinated (Solórzano and Delgado Bernal, 2001). In the final analysis, CRT challenges the dominant ideology that has practiced hegemony in American education that preaches race neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy and asserts that race has contributed to all manifestations of group advantage and disadvantage.

 

They said nothing when Children of Color were fed carte blanche fairy tales about history that resulted in collective inferiority.

 

We might not be in the mess we are in if there had been some semblance of truth written about América’s incessant racist history now transformed into an ideology. Why haven’t educational analysts called out White Supremacists and their historical fallacies to the carpet?  Seldom have People of Color scholars occupied power positions to change the paradigm falling prey to incrementalism and the lack of representation in educational systems. Now that the dominant paradigm is unable to avoid the inevitable collision with social change, those who are threatened by CRT have taken to the streets inventing an alternative scenario to instill fear in White people. There has been no attempt to create oppositional research to support their assertions about CRT forcing White people to develop negative self-esteems. They said nothing when Children of Color were fed carte blanche fairy tales about history that resulted in collective inferiority.

 

Some of the fundamental premises of CRT include the notion that race is not biologically real but is socially constructed by human beings. The construction of race has been used to create a false narrative regarding superiority for White people at the expense of relegating others to an inferior status. Scholars Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic argue that race is the product of social thought and is not connected to biological reality.

 

Another CRT premise argues that those who write the history do so to maintain power in society, controlling mass media through fear and intimidation.  According to CRT philosophy racism is embedded in structures and woven into public policy. CRT experts reject claims of meritocracy or “colorblindness.” Theoretically, meritocracy and color blindness are supposed to catapult the best to the top; in reality, they push the oppressed further down the stratification system. According to CRT systemic racism is not an aberration. It has a reality base to it that has created permanent manifestations of structural and systemic racism that need to be dismantled.

 

In a “Lesson on Critical Race Theory,” Janel George holds that “racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society,” thus the question in Critical Race Theory is not “did racism take place?” but “how did racism manifest in this situation? She further argues that racism is insidious in nature and relevant to all interactions and everything else that happens.” Everyone should make it their duty to investigate, expose, and disrupt this racism once it has emerged.

 

George further argues that “racism is believed to be immanent in society–hidden just below the surface and is present everywhere, all of the time. Therefore, all acts of racism are not to be understood as isolated incidents by individuals or institutions but as specific manifestations of a pervasive system that defines society.” CRT has a commitment to Social Justice; a critical race theory in education challenges us to envision social justice as the struggle to eliminate racism and other forms of subordination while empowering groups that have been subordinated (Solórzano and Delgado Bernal, 2001).

 

Political gurus might argue that CRT is a dog whistle that is being used as a wedge issue or the next primary presidential elections. Some of our white counterparts that voted for Democrats might be convinced to change their vote as this issue invades their school systems. As freedom loving people, we need to defend our children when those on the right show up at board of education meetings and attempt to restrict our children from being exposed to an alternative perspective about history, negating their freedom of speech in the process.

 

What’s the beef? Our children’s future is at stake.

 

¡Educacion es Liberacion!

 

Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. © 7-25-2021 Ramón Del Castillo.

 

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