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What Is Critical Race Theory And Why Is It Bad?

By Nea Logan··  7 min read
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What Is Critical Race Theory And Why Is It Bad?

By now, I’m sure there’s someone in your life who has been telling you about the evils of Critical Race Theory. If not, it doesn’t take much clicking around on the World Wide Web to find hordes of disgruntled, irate parents at school board meetings who are passionately opposed to a curriculum that posits an “oppressor-oppressed” ideology in the classroom.

While I’m thankful for the numerous states that have passed laws banning Critical Race Theory (CRT), new concerns emerge as some zealous educators and activists seek to break the rules and proselytize their race-centric beliefs in the public school system. But the cunning and clever are no match for a mom who’s armed with the following knowledge and insight to stop this radically progressive academic movement in its tracks. 

But First, What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Is It Bad?

Those fiery school board speeches are going viral for a reason, and that’s because many parents are concerned about the divisive nature of this emerging curriculum. CRT was born of the controversial 1619 Project and is designed as an educational body to examine racism in the United States. The term was first used in 1994 by Roy L. Brooks, who coined it as "a collection of critical stances against the existing legal order from a race-based point of view.” It was later redefined in 2017 as “a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power."

At a first glance it sounds virtuous, but critics – understandably so – identify CRT as a political power move to elevate race discussions to the apex of academic discussion. To proponents of CRT, race is an integral element of society that must be addressed – even though this runs counter to the convictions of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., who advocated for a world that put character over color. 

CRT is harmful to all children, setting unfair standards and intellectual boundaries around social interactions.

In short, a world that sees color as a foundational reasoning for all things is a world that will categorize itself in such a way that encourages racism to thrive. Be warned, CRT is harmful to all children, setting unfair standards and intellectual boundaries around social interactions where no such boundaries existed. So, how do you know it’s in your child’s classroom? 1) Be a parent and decide to take control, and 2) Make a concerted effort to identify these potential concerns.

Put Questionable Terminology to the Test

It’s evident that language is at the core of everything we learn. After all, we have to learn to speak and read before we can advance in our educational pursuits. The thing with Critical Race Theory is that it aims to redefine commonly known words in the realm of Language Arts curricula, while inserting terms that cause young minds to think of the world in racial terms. 

CRT redefines common words, causing young minds to think of the world in racial terms. 

Even scarier is how CRT can fly under the radar of unsuspecting parents who are accepting of the labels used and relieved that the words CRITICAL RACE THEORY do not appear. But this is deceptive at best. In fact, there are numerous buzzwords that parents should be dead set on exterminating. For example, a lesson plan could instead promote “Culturally Responsive Teaching.” But understand that this is simply more of the same, just repackaged. After all, it takes asking what it means to be “culturally responsive” at all while also asking who defined the narrative of cultural responsiveness in the first place. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the only buzzword floating about. Educators and insiders who are against CRT have only begun to reveal a litany of educational themes that could mask CRT curriculum, including:

  • Environmental Justice

  • Decolonization

  • Systemic Racism

  • Cultural Competency

  • Equity

  • Racial Justice

  • White Privilege

  • Diversity

  • Social Justice

  • Deconstruction

  • Economic Justice

  • White Fragility

  • SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity)

  • Housing Justice 

  • Structural Racism

  • Restorative Justice

  • Cultivating Restorative Spaces

That said, it’s critical that parents follow the language trail to the letter to fight back against CRT before accepting a lesson plan as kid-appropriate. Any effort to force topics based on superficialities like race, skin color, and national origin without context or counterbalance should be deemed suspect. One family had to learn in the worst way, as a Minnesota fourth grader exposed a school for telling students to hide an equity survey from their parents

Fallacious Language in Fiction

We want our children to eat a healthy diet, but parents may also want to make sure the books their kid reads are healthy enough for consumption too. For this reason, parents are taking to podiums across the nation and reciting some very repulsive themes from some so-called recommended books. One mom shared her testimony with me after investigating a book from her middle schooler’s summer reading list. On page one, she discovered vulgar racial slurs and sexually aggressive language that was not only unnecessary but potentially harmful. This is especially an issue in the case of advanced readers who may read recommended books on a higher grade level. A fourth or fifth grader may get her hands on a book that’s better suited for a more intellectually mature eighth grader, and parents are rightfully alarmed about it.

If a book is good enough for a child’s eyes, it’s good enough for a parent to see it.

I once remember a dad telling me that he visits his daughter’s school once a week for lunch. While there, he sits with her and eats the exact meal she eats. When asked why, he said, “If the food is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.”

What he said to me made me think this: If a book is good enough for a child’s eyes, it’s good enough for a parent to see it. Your child should never be exposed to anything outside of your awareness. And never assume that because your child is reading at all that all is good. What they read matters, and a book is an easy and clever way to sneak in questionable theories like CRT. 

The Lesson Plan Doesn’t Align with Your Own History

"Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it,” is the famous quote by American philosopher George Santayana that rings true in light of Critical Race Theory infiltrating our schools. For one, a race-centered approach to education only restores a Jim Crow mentality that recategorizes students based on superficialities instead of embracing the unity that our nation stands for. 

The other big issue with CRT is that it’s mostly constructed of false narratives that with a single brush stroke paint a single, contrived portrait of America. But families that know their own genealogy are best equipped to stand firm against it. Unfortunately, CRT narratives take advantage of parents who lack knowledge of their own roots.

Had CRT existed in my youth, I would have believed that my family had been shipped over from West Africa and enslaved by wealthy whites who only had contempt for people with brown and black skin. 

Families that know their own genealogy are best equipped to stand firm against CRT. 

In contrast, my actual family history points to a legacy of scholars, educators, singers, writers, and entrepreneurs who were property owners with no links to slavery as concluded after decades of genealogical research and stories passed down from our elders. Being a blend of Native American, black, and Italian ancestry, with generations of marriages and healthy, large families, it’s clear to me that there existed a people who were unencumbered by black-on-white racism, unlike the narrative CRT suggests. Mine is among many other stories rarely told, which is why cross-checking one’s own family history can be an effective educational buffer against rogue, political narratives plaguing our schools. 

Closing Thoughts

I can’t imagine having lived my life with a generalized summary compiled by educators who have only scratched the surface of American history. I believe imposing a cookie-cutter narrative that’s racial in nature will only erode any social progress we have made while washing out the stories of families who did overcome hardship and achieve the American Dream. Because there’s still so much that’s unfolding, I encourage everyone – but especially parents – to continue putting pressure on public schools so that we can preserve the unity that we truly did achieve. Your history AND my history is American history, after all. 

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