Protestors are wrong on critical race theory

Spencer Wakefield, Staff Writer

In many places across the United States stating the fact that the U.S. was built on the backs of slaves, that black and brown people were and are still oppressed, and that we are denizens of a deeply and troublingly racist empire is illegal.  

Teaching children history can, in five states, get you thrown in prison. In 22 states, laws prohibiting the teaching of “critical race theory,” as any accurate account of racial history has come to be known, have been proposed.  

What is critical race theory though? What is the rationale for these laws that, were they directed at the actual lies in U.S. history curriculums, would be decried as fascist? 

    The academic school of thought known colloquially as “critical race theory,” is not something taught in any public classroom, despite the thundering of Republican officials and pundits alike,. Critical race theory exists in the circles of legal academics, not middle and elementary schools. Started in Harvard in the late 1970s, it is the study of how many laws within the U.S. uphold structural racism, from gerrymandering and redlining to more traditional segregation.  

Were you solely listening to anyone within the government though, you would be under the impression that critical race theory teaches our young, impressionable (white) children that all white people are evil, soulless monsters who hate everyone who does not look like them. In the words of former Vice President Mike Pence, the Republican Party line is that “critical race theory is racism.” These beliefs are, seemingly, deeply rooted in a fear of losing power among the older and mostly white political elite.  

    As stated earlier, the United States has deeply racist roots. Slavery, a genocidal colonial project to claim the lands of Natives across the entire continent, and laws that were in effect until less than half a century ago that legally defined people of color as lesser than white people. Critical race theory, the real discipline, not the academic boogeyman that exists almost solely in the mind of right-wingers in this country, focuses on how this history has affected our laws.  

The reasons for making it illegal to teach are twofold. For one, it further protects the vestiges of white supremacy within our political system, where a vast majority of the people with power are old, rich and white. Those in power will always do anything to protect their positions. Furthermore, these laws play off of the American current of anti-intellectualism, a hatred of “ivory towers” and the institutions that, more often than not, are the factories that produce our ruling class. However, the most important part is ensuring the future of America, maintaining its status quo.  

Historically, we have always had a white ruling class. If people are educated as to why that is, and why that is immoral, then there will not be one in the future. The very idea of change, whether that be social, racial, or political, scares those in power more than any talking point they can come up with.