How Critical Race Theory became America’s boogeyman

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

Critical Race Theory has critically been contentious in America lately. Until recently, this theoretical teaching had confined itself to post-secondary schools curriculum but has now been mainstreamed by Trumpians and far-right media outlets buzzing vociferously that the learning threatens civil social order. This anecdote of the American experience meant to instruct and prepare our kids for challenges in the future is being turned on its head and used as an ideological wedge to incite racial animus.

Disappointingly, the bellicose arguments which have now spilled into the nation’s elementary/secondary school boards and parents’ teacher’s meetings have painfully preempted the nascent race relationship in the classrooms built on after the supreme court landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of education in 1954.

According to notable Critical Race Theory scholars, or “CRT” as referred to by critics, explains the convergence between white supremacism and institutional racism. In doing so, it challenges the practices that promote the nation’s inequalities while positing a remedy to the problem. The study further informs that white dominance and U.S. laws are interwoven, where the latter was used to advance the cause of the former. It explained that for centuries, laws enacted have unfairly tilted the social and economic balance in favor of whites and their identity to the detriment of the nation’s minority groups.

The theory inexplicably narrates that racism is not only a function of an individual’s hate of others but that the institutions of government from top to bottom were designed to sustain America’s perverse inequality. This notion and others have caused some parents to develop tantrums engaging teachers and academic staff in nasty squabblings.

Objectively, the postulations of the scholars are facts that can easily be verified. For example, we know the U.S. system is grossly unfair despite the civil rights laws of the 1960s; Blacks and other minority groups still face systemic and structural barriers in healthcare, employment, housing, and other social-economic opportunities. Pew Research conducted in 2019 reveals that Americans generally think being white is an advantage in society, while about half or more say being black or Hispanic hurts people’s ability to get ahead. The research further reveals that “Many see racial discrimination and less access to good schools or jobs as major reasons blacks may have a harder time getting ahead.”

So, if America is cognizant of these disparities, why the quarrels in school board meetings? Should critical thinking be discouraged in schools? Should the children not learn the truth about the root of our biased and unfair system? Why are some parents not comfortable exposing their children to this type of academic rigors that help them understand the world they are growing into? These and many more questions are the poignant reminder of the onerous task before us in our quest to become a fairer and more equitable society.

America is still glaringly racially disproportioned; the contradictions of its foundation poke its citizens in the eyes daily, reminding us of the system’s fragility. The social conflicts from the textual framework tell us that the country was built on freedom, equality, and uniform justice for all men. And these, the canons informs us, is our fundamental right. Yet, the government institutions are framed on prejudice, systemic exclusion, and suppression of its black populace. And those who have benefited and still benefit from these inequities are not ready, nor are they willing to forgo their privileges for a more level playing field.

First and foremost, let’s examine some of the nation’s laws and see whether they square with the founding principles. After the civil war, the country amended its constitution, adding the 14th and 15th amendments, with promises of equality and a new air of freedom and rights for the recently emancipated slaves. The guarantees of that constitutional revision were immediately frustrated by state-sanctioned discriminative laws lasting from the 1870s to the 1950s. These laws range from racial segregation in schools, restaurants, churches, restrictive real estate covenants to voting barriers like poll taxes and literacy tests. Others are humiliating signs in restaurants, bars, clubs, playgrounds, and buses that remind blacks that they do not belong. The reconstruction effort meant to lift emancipated blacks after centuries of servitude all but miserably failed.

Fast forward to1933. Faced with housing shortages, the U.S. government began segregating housing through a system called “redlining.” The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) focused its resources on providing suburban housing for white middle- and lower-class families while refusing to do the same in neighborhoods where colored people were concentrated. As a result, more black people were packed in housing projects primarily situated in urban areas. The aim of Redlining did what it was designed to do-exclude blacks from government-guaranteed mortgages while subsidizing builders and guaranteed loans in white-only neighborhoods and for only white borrowers. This government-sanctioned caste system aimed to divert wealth to a particular group while systematically preventing others.

Eleven years later, in 1944, Congress passed the GI Bill sweeping legislation to assist returning WWII veterans who have gallantly served their country. The benefits include low-cost housing, guaranteed mortgage, college tuition, and unemployment insurance, among many other benefits. Although the G.I. bill did not expressly exclude black veterans, its implementation was structured to keep blacks from accessing the bill’s promise. While many whites used the guarantees of the law to accumulate wealth and prosper, 1.2 million black veterans were left behind. This undoubtedly deepened the wealth gap and still haunts the country today.

Whereas the white population grew, preserved, and transferred wealth to their children, the black populace was left with no safety net. And to make their economic climb even more arduous, Blackmen who represent the support system of the black family was mass incarcerated using racially-biased anti-drug war declared by Pres. Nixon combined with a grotesquely unfair criminal justice system spearheaded by Pres. Clinton.

The above are just a few instances laws were used to oppress a portion of the country while lifting another.

But why the bitter opposition to the learning of this particular aspect of history?

The opponents of Critical Race Theory argued that such education chastises all white people, labels them racist, and divides the country into the oppressors and the oppressed. This is a wholly flawed narrative, and it grossly hyperbolizes if not mischaracterize what Critical Race Theory means. Subliminally the opposition is saying that they don’t want their kids to learn that the U.S. Government helped induce white people’s successes. They’d instead cover it up. They also do not want these kids to know that the wealth gap between whites and blacks results from government effort and not the false narrative that blacks are lazy. And finally, they don’t want their children exposed to the knowledge that the pathway many whites road to success in America was never on a fair and equitable playing field.

The critics of Critical Race Theory fail to realize that a system can be racist while the individual is not. A system can be oppressive, while the benefactors of the unjust system are not. What makes the individual complicit is if they willingly stay blinded, even if the awareness of these truths makes them look bad. Or if they resist every attempt to expose the imbalance, oppose every critical attention to the structural sufferings inflicted on others by the system that empowers them.

 

Finally, what happened has happened. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly learn from it to be better groomed for the future. This is the essence of education and the learning of history. And this is what Critical Race Theory intends to teach us. Contrary to the loudmouthed cacophonous extreme right-wingers who have muddied the waters, confused well-meaning parents to believe that Critical Race Theory is the nation’s eponymous boogeyman designed to frighten the children or brainwash them. Alas, reasonable minds know that the teaching educates our children regarding the lessons of the past and prepares them to be the custodian of a nation vying to be more perfect, mature, and fitting to be emulated by others around the world.

Email: Jlabode74@gmail.com

Twitter: @Obanor

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