As a Black woman and an education major, I have come to know a lot about Critical Race Theory. My future and past are shaped by the way that people are taught in this country, especially how they learn about topics relating to Black and African-American people. In my opinion, Critical Race Theory is extremely important but its relevance is currently up for debate in many places in the United States. This is very worrisome and could revert our country back many years in our progression toward equality.
What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that exposes the way race and racism are built into American institutions, especially the law. It helps shed light on the systemic issues in America that are based on the concept of race and the hierarchy that has been created because of it. Therefore it is an extremely important concept. Critical Race Theory can help ensure that all college students, regardless of their race, are given an education that is fair and part of inclusive learning.
What is happening with Critical Race Theory in the U.S.?
Many states are trying to rid their school systems of teaching Critical Race Theory. Some states have banned it completely. There are lawmakers and citizens in these states that believe it causes more racial problems than it solves and will only make education more racist. There is a fear that talking about the hierarchy caused by this country’s history will bring negativity towards Caucasian students in particular. Some people are too afraid to let their children know about the injustices their ancestors may have caused. Some would rather ignore the past instead of starting to dismantle the racism embedded in every inch of this country.
What We Can Do.
The best way to fight against the injustice that is taking place is by teaching Critical Race Theory, especially at a collegiate level. Informing future teachers about the academic concept of Critical Race Theory can help make it an integral part of their teaching practices. Having courses like Foundations of Equity and Inclusion (an Education course given at Luther) in post-secondary programs around the country and reading work from scholars well versed in Critical Race Theory, like Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings are some good examples. Incorporating Critical Race Theory as a basic element in a professor’s philosophy can help to break through some of the existing barriers. The more knowledgeable the incoming teaching workforce is about Critical Race Theory, the more likely it is for it to be built back up in the places that are tearing it down.
Why Is Critical Race Theory So Important?
The primary foundation of education is ensuring that students are receiving a well-rounded learning experience. This means that all students will see themselves represented in the curriculum, but they will also learn about the lives and experiences of many different kinds of people. Historically this has not always happened and there are places where it still is not happening. I know from personal experience what it is like to not feel seen or acknowledged by the content in a classroom. I know what it is like to believe that the only stories about people like me that are worth hearing are ones of pain and suffering. No child should have to feel the way that I, and many other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students, have felt. Incorporating Critical Race Theory into learning helps prevent that feeling. It teaches what the world is like even if it is uncomfortable for people to listen to. It helps dismantle the hierarchy from the inside and causes students to really think about the past and look into how to improve the future.
As a soon-to-be educator that is all I could ever hope for. A brighter, more inclusive, and more knowledgeable future.