Critical race theory has been around since the 1970’s. However, the concept has gained interest among those who seek to rewrite history and silence the voices of those who seek to make sure that the realities of history are known, no matter how bad they are. Critical race theory is a framework to better understand historical, social, political, and economic phenomena. Critical race theory seeks to explain racism from a structural and institutional context. While race plays a critical role in every aspect of our lives, critical race theorists would argue that race is not a natural concept. Rather, it is a man-made social construct to maintain a superior and dominant position for white people.
One of the basic tenets of critical race theory is that while all white folk are not racist, they benefit from a system that is fundamentally structured to maintain white supremacy and white privilege. So, otherwise good white folk remain silent or choose to ignore the maltreatment of Blacks so as not to interrupt their white privileges. Therefore, race plays a role in the criminal justice and legal systems as well as the economic and political systems. Politicians are now saying that racism does not exist in the state or the country. The sad but true part of this assertion is that because white people have not experienced racism, it is difficult for them to grasp the reality of racism. However, Black people experience racism on a daily basis because it is a “lived reality” in the circles of their lives.
Because white people have historically controlled the education system, they have determined the curriculum. They determine what is taught and how things are taught. As a result, many of the tragedies that Black people experienced were not and are not disclosed in the curriculum or taught in the classrooms in schools across this county.
When these tragedies are disclosed, it has been done in a filtered manner that either made Black folk the villains or in a manner that suggested they were “getting what they deserved.”
This is why so many people, Black and white people, had not heard of the Tulsa Massacre, the Wilmington Massacre, the New York Massacre, the Atlanta Massacre, the Rosewood Massacre, the Elaine Massacre, and countless other massacres. Equally as concerning, there are those who say that slavery did not exist and that the January 6, 2021 takeover of the United States Capitol was just a bunch of tourists strolling through the Capitol. Now in 2021, there are white people and white politicians who are trying to prevent critical race theory from being taught in the schools. They are saying that critical race theory is “divisive” and makes white kids “uncomfortable.” The sad part about their position is many of these folk do not know what critical race theory is and cannot define critical race theory. Further, they do not know that the “critical race theory” is not being taught in their school system. So, what they are really saying is that they do not want their children to be taught truth in the classroom when that truth is less than flattery about white people and their actions. This applies to the past events as well as contemporary events.
Recently, here in Georgia, with the support of the current governor, the State School Board passed a resolution to prevent critical race theory from being taught in schools. The resolution also stated that the United States nor Georgia is racist. They did not want white kids to feel the discomfort of hearing the atrocities that have taken place in the course of United States history and Georgia history. This position maintains a blind eye to the pain Black kids’ forefathers experienced which carries over in today’s society.
In the past, those in power prevented slaves from learning how to read or write in an effort to keep them from learning. Today those in power want to control what is being taught to keep white and Black kids from learning the truth about America, Georgia, and its people. When what is being taught is controlled, when truth about history is distorted, and when the vote is suppressed based on a “big lie”, the essence of democracy has been undermined. Those who seek to deny truth so as to maintain their privilege clearly understand that if they can control the minds of people through what is being taught, then they can control the people’s mind, body, and soul. Then they will have free reins in all aspects of the people’s lives. Is this what we seek in the school systems? Is this what we seek in our communities? Is this what we seek in the state of Georgia? Is this what we seek in America? I certainly hope not. After all, America tells the rest of the world about the beauty of democracy. Doesn’t it seem a bit hypocritical for those in power to be suppressing truth, the vote, and free thinking?