CRT; what’s all the fuss?

by Neil Rickert

We have been hearing a lot about CRT. Those initials used to be short for “Cathode Ray Tube”, which we were using for television sets and computer monitors. But, these day, the initials stand for “Critical Race Theory”.

Critical Race Theory, itself, comes from legal scholars. And I doubt very much that it is being taught in the elementary or high schools. Yesterday I saw a blog post by Brian Leiter, about what CRT actually is. And I thought it would be useful to provide the link.

What is being taught in the schools does not appear to actually be CRT. But because the name CRT seems to connect to Critical Theory which in turn seems to have Marxist connections, the critics apparently think they can use “guilt by association” to make part of the school curriculum look Marxist.

Part of the fuss has been about the books “White Fragility” (by Robin DeAngelo) and “How to Be and Antiracist” (by Ibram Kendi). I have not read either book, though I have looked at reviews. As best I can tell, those books are not books about CRT. Rather they are responses to CRT — perhaps misguided responses.

System Racism

It is one of the tenets of CRT, that some of the racism we see is systemic rather than due to bad behavior by individuals. Part of what bothers me about those two books, is that they seem oriented more toward fixing individuals than toward dealing with systemic racism. However, keep in mind that I have not read the books, so I might be misjudging them.

As an example of systemic racism, think of the so-called “old boys network”. People hiring for jobs would tend to consult those whom they know. And since most of those whom they know turned out to be white, this put people of color at a distinct disadvantage.

The affirmative action programs started in the 1960s and 1970 did help to reduce this systemic racism. But some of it remains and continues to be a problem.

The curriculum

Some of the reports have been about the curriculum used in the schools. It is hard to know what to make of those reports. The issue has become thoroughly politicized, and in those circumstances we can expect that there is much exaggeration in what people are describing.

Fred Clark, at his Slacktivist blog, sees the todo about CRT as just the latest moral panic.

For example, some reports describe teachers as indoctrinating students into particular viewpoints. I hope that’s just an exaggeration. There should not be indoctrination in the school classrooms.

Other reports have suggested an attempt by some states to insist on a whitewashed history. I hope that too, is an exaggeration. Students need a reasonably accurate picture of our history, though it should be presented at a level suited to the age of the students. In this sort of political atmosphere, teaching can be a tough job.

Generally speaking, the teachers come from the same community as the parents, and have many of the same concerns. So it is unlikely that they are really indoctrinating the children.

The kids will be okay.

One Comment to “CRT; what’s all the fuss?”

  1. I’ve never been able to understand why anyone would dislike/hate/reject another person based solely on the colour of their skin. And I’ve lived in South Africa since 1979 and witnessed/experienced some heavy racism during Apartheid.
    Culture on the other hand – and I suppose we can include religious practice’s here as well – is an entirely different ball game.

    Liked by 2 people

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