By Liz Calvo
Critical race theory has been the latest hot topic in American media, politics, and now, gaining slow emergence in academics. However, there is debate as to whether critical race theory should be addressed in schools as a course or a subject in the classroom. At least two students, Tennille Crawford, a junior majoring in psychology, and Ma’at Hetep, a junior majoring in graphic design, think Barry should add their own course on the theory.
What is Critical Race Theory?
According to Stephen Sawchuk, a writer for Education Week, Critical Race Theory (CRT) emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s as “the core idea that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”
Today, those patterns of discrimination still live through racially blind policies, such as affordable housing, the criminal justice system, and education system.
CRT has ties with certain academic disciplines, such as politics, social organization, humanities, and social sciences; often cited as the basis of all diversity and inclusion efforts.
“Racism is embedded deep within our laws, education systems, social idiosyncrasies and more,” said Hetep.
However, as with any theory, there is criticism. For example, according to Sawchuk, “some critics claim that the theory advocates discrimination against white people in order to achieve equity.”
These sorts of criticisms often come from different concepts of racism. For example, Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court stated, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.”
As a rebuttal, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “It’s very hard for me to see how you can have a racial objective but a non-racial means to get there.”
“It only gets worse if we keep a 'I do not see color' mindset. We need to improve as a human race,” said Hetep.
According to a survey by Education Week Research Center, 50 percent of 1,200 teachers are against the teaching of CRT or “the idea that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”
Crawford disagrees. “Most of the criticism surrounds CRT because it challenges the government.”
Moreover, parents are even in disagreement with teaching CRT in classrooms.
During a school board meeting in Beachwood, Ohio, an African American mother named Sherry said. “Black kids are turning against white people of all ages. And white kids are hating their parents, their success, and their heritage and calling them racist,” thanks to the influence of CRT.
“Parents allowing their children to analyze the impact of their possible racist or complicit ancestors is scary. I can’t say I understand, but at some point, we must right the wrongs of the past and must take time to learn our history in order to not repeat it,” Hetep said.
Crawford believes adding a course on CRT is a great idea.
“One of Barry’s core commitments is knowledge and truth along with social justice. One of the key aspects of Critical Race Theory is how racism is embedded within our laws and legal system.”
“We all live in this country; therefore, it would be smart to learn the laws of this land,” agrees Hetep. “Critical Race Theory would dive into these laws and systems and decipher if and how they benefit and hurt others.”
She goes further in stating, “A good institution would implement that mirror so that their students won’t go out in the world scared to change what they see in it.”