The NYPD officers approached a man on suspicion of selling cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. The man tells the police that he is tired of being harassed and that he didn’t have anything to do with cigarette sales. The officers attempt to arrest the man with one of them, Pantaleo, placing his arm around the man’s neck and wrestling him to the ground. With multiple officers pinning him down, the man repeats the words “I can’t breathe.”
Now, this may be a phrase that we have become familiar with. However, for those not entirely sure of this particular incident, this victim’s name is Eric Garner. Soon after this, Garner lost consciousness and was declared dead about an hour later
If I ask you what you would assume Garner’s ethnicity to be, what would be your first guess?
Because if “African-American” comes to your mind, you already know where this blog is heading.
Racism isn’t a new concept—it is the bias against a specific racial or ethnic group. It also includes the distinction between various groups so as to identify them as inferior or superior. Now, the Biden administration in the US is attempting to spread awareness about the same in high schools through a widely-debated subject: Critical Race Theory (CRT).
In this blog, we will look at the inclusion of racism studies in education and the debate that surrounds it.
Critical Race Theory – An Introduction
The Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been making an appearance in media and debates quite often, recently. So, what exactly is it?
The theory says that race is a social construct rather than a product of individual bias or prejudice, and yet is something embedded in legal systems and policies. An example of instances that led to the framework or CRT is how in the 1930s government officials drew lines around areas and deemed them as poor financial risks. The main reasoning behind this being the racial composition of inhabitants, which meant that banks refused mortgages to these residents.
A related concept is a casual racism. The ‘Challenging Racism Project’ has documented Australians’ experiences of racism since 2001. The most common experiences of racism reported are interpersonal interactions.
Name-calling and other racist insults are also common. These racist events make people feel like they don’t belong to Australia. And this includes people born in Australia or whose ancestors have lived in Australia for millennia.
The USA shows 57.6% of all hate crimes with motivation being race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias. Thus, CRT is just an attempt to put things into perspective, since hate crimes and casual racism are prevalent in most countries.
Additional Resources on Critical Race Theory
The Big Debate
Let us now look at the arguments presented for and against CRT being a part of the school curriculum. The ones who support this say that the theory asserts that racism is a part of everyday life. They assert that even people who don’t intend to be racist could make choices that fuel racism. Thus, students, the future decision-makers must have a deep understanding of the unseen form of racism to avoid such conduct.
However, the critics argue that this discriminates against white people by labeling them as racist. They also say that it could lead to students having a self-demoralizing notion. A common argument among such critics is that teaching Critical Race Theory in schools incites anti-national thinking and behavior. Meaning, they will grow to hate their country and its policies and have a negative impression of the same.
Now, while some states in the USA have initiated outlaw CRT in schools, the bills give room for a lot of grey areas. Some of the schools are now unsure of what constitutes as accepted syllabi and what doesn’t.
Our Take on Critical Race Theory in Schools
In short, they were arguing that CRT—with its insistence on exploring both the ideological and material manifestations of racism—could explain the important connections between race and class in American schooling.
Unlike previous studies of race and education that were merely descriptive of racist acts, policies, curriculum or teachers and administrators, Critical Race Theory attempts to explain how critical analysis of racism in education could lead to the development of new ways to think about the failure of schools to properly educate minority populations.
CRT and its inclusion in the curriculum can significantly enlarge current debates over the continuing significance of racism in education and in society as a whole. The truth is that disparity and discrimination will continue in different forms until we are willing to look beyond our decisions and not only use research to examine the effects of those decisions but assume the responsibility to enact corrections as well.
We’ll let you form your opinion on this topic. However, keeping in mind educational freedom, it could be a plausible solution to present the theory to students and have them form their own opinion on it. Let students decide if they want to learn this or not. Isn’t that how we can empower our future generation?