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Does CRT belong in American K-12 Pedagogy?
Clearly, proponents and mostly Liberals will say YES; while opponents, mostly Conservatives will say NO! The former will argue that it will help children think better about race and treat those who are in other racial groups better as adults, while the latter will argue that children are too young to understand such racial constructs and thus CRT may incite more hatred at an early age during which many are still innocent or naïve about such topics and essentially would be akin to an indoctrination of a way to think of race and culture. In short, the latter feels that the more we ignore race, the less significant it will become and the more we highlight it, the more of an issue it will become.
Amazingly the answer is usually SOMETIMES YES/NO or a hybrid of both -- so in a way , both sides are somewhat wrong on the topic... as in everything, ALL IN MODERATION applies (smile).
In fact, no progress will take place unless both sides reach a social-contract friendly consensus that is both socially and constitutionally permissible! In order to so accomplish, CRT proponents cannot be overly reactive or definitive and thus must be proactive enough to invite its opponents to a worthy and consensus-driven debate!
Question#1 should be:
Can a consensus be reached on CRT as it is or do its objectives need to be modified?
WHEN I was a young 18-year old electrical engineering student in New York, I decided to take some Black studies electives under a great Black Studies Professor named, Leonard Jeffries. While I learned a lot of historical facts, no CONSENSUS-DRIVEN VEHICLES were ever taught as to enable harmonious co-existence! Accordingly, as any Black person will attest, after hearing what one’s ancestors went through, one can seamlessly become angered and even animated towards Whites if not hypersensitive!
Can you imagine teaching such concepts to immature K-12 students?
So what is CRITICAL RACE THEORY (CRT)? And is it CRITICAL enough to be CONSTRUCTIVELY TAUGHT to K-12 Students? (i.e., do the BENEFITS outweigh the RISKS?)
From its onset between the 1970s and 1980s, CRT has always been both an academic movement of U.S. civil-rights/legal scholars and activists with the the goal of CRITICALLY analyzing the impact that U.S. Laws have had on racial and cultural issues and how they essentially relate to racism in the U.S. It is grounded in critical theory and borrows concepts from great American thinkers like Frederick Douglas and W.E.B. Dubois, and even feminism as well.
Critical race theorists do not all share the same beliefs, but their commonalities appear to be that racism and disparate racial outcomes emanate from complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices in individuals. They view race and white supremacy as social constructs that help preserve the interests of White people at the expense of Blacks and other minorities.
So, in a nutshell, we do have at least two schools of thoughts here on CRT as exhibited above. However, we must remember that when Europeans arrived here, they intended to empower Europeans and to be candid, mainly European males, since clearly, women could not vote or own properties; and neither could other non-White-male individuals!
My point is that Europeans, more likely than not, would not have brought Black slaves as chattels to the States to produce free labor had they known that one day they would have conspired to gain freedom alone, and let us not even mention even dare to desire to go from slavery to equality! Needless to say, It was a far fetched idea to both masters and slaves! But the slaves fought seemingly insurmountable battles and today we reached a CONSENSUS in the Civil Rights Act which benefits Blacks , women and others! Clearly STEREOTYPES persisted from that point on... The former slave-masters had their perceptions of themselves and the slaves; and the slaves also had their perceptions of themselves and the slave-masters... and both sets of perceptions had their truths and their flaws by virtue of the fact that both are human-beings.
CRT proponents are simply feeling that HISTORY has been shared in a way that is as palatable to White males as possible especially since they got to write It themselves. Naturally, it is understandable that others felt left out! It is what is commonly referred to among Blacks as "HIS STORY". I get it. I have felt like that too at times even though I choose not to make it the center of my life these days. Thus, undoubtedly, the story has to be enhanced; and the ANSWER is a HYBRID ONE or a combination of the perceived accounts from both sides.
How do we constructively teach concepts that drive even smart adults nuts to K-12 students?
First and foremost, BOTH CRT opponents and proponents have to stop their little temper tantrums and get together to find ways of constructively instruct young minds about racial issues and inequities without furthering the divide or making the problem worse in their very quest to get rid of it or at least minimize it. Both sides will need to leave the political stances behind and realize that our K-12 minds are our future leaders... YUP... our Future Obama, Biden and potentially even a political outlier like a Trump!
Thus, we cannot underestimate anyone... both sides have a reason to be concerned... CRT opponents are seeing proponents as radicals that want to obliterate the status quo or their American way of life to accommodate their views, while CRT proponents see the opponents are mere obstacles to progress in terms of a more racially and culturally aware America. Clearly both American versions do exist at any moment in time. The key is to reconcile the two and come up with a CONSENSUS that will get us farther than demonizing each other... Perhaps the name won't be CRITICAL RACE THEORY... perhaps it will simply be CRITICAL HARMONY THEORY. Somehow, removing race out of it can help us do something that most of us are already somewhat doing, which is living harmoniously with each other no matter what our race, color, ethnic background and religion.
A CRITICAL HARMONY THEORY can help us become CO-AUTHORS of HISTORY so that all sides will be satisfied with how their stories will have been told.