Coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, critical race theory or CRT is the hot topic of the day for politicians nationwide, but why now and all of sudden when CRT has been around for 40 years? The simple answer is because politicians, especially conservative politicians, want all of us to believe that racism went the way of the dodo when Barack Obama was elected. The problem with that theory is that the bigliest racist in history got elected afterwards, negating much of the progress that had been made with race relations during Obama’s terms.
CRT is not a way of life but a way of thinking. Critical race theorists aren’t an organized group with a main conspirator and they aren’t seeking “a reorganization of the United States around racial fault lines.” Simply stated, CRT seeks to fill in the gaps missing from our American history books and lectures.
While CRT is just that, a theory, it’s worth noting that — as a theory — a tremendous amount has to be proven to make CRT a “fact.” Like all good academia, where CRT was has been addressed for decades, critical race theorists are seeking little more than discussion of the topic, such as the essay by Ibram Kendi that reviews his theory that pervasive racism still exists or the newspaper column by Ted Thornhill noting that “decent human beings don’t quote Dr. Martin Luther King, and then support and enact racist laws and policies that undermine the right to vote, the right to protest and the freedom to learn an accurate and comprehensive account of the nation’s history …”
As such, they’ve been successful. Discussion is widespread these days. Conservatives are voicing their fears; most of the rest of us, examining our own involvements with race relations. Yet, the best part about all this discussion is that individuals, and even children, are learning about the subject that conservatives don’t want taught in schools. Every one of them will be googling the phrase critical race theory and do what I am doing now: discussing it. Now for the next step.
It’s up to patriotic Americans to call out and hold our politicians accountable for fear-mongering over the issue. In Florida, Marco Rubio is name-calling CRT “a Marxist theory.” It isn’t except now in the minds of Cuban Americans in southern Florida (Rubio’s intended target, always). Because of Republican leaders, we’re all talking about it, working through the fears of an ever aging population while new generations will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Talking about and debating CRT is not a crime, at least not yet, although it may be if you are a K-12 teacher in Florida. Time will tell.