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Demosthenes's avatar

Why is critical race theory so controversial?

Asked by Demosthenes (12567points) June 2nd, 2021
24 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

“Critical race theory” and whether it should be taught in schools seems to be the latest “culture war” front. Republicans have vowed to fight critical race theory, claiming that it divides Americans and teaches us to hate each other. Democrats claim that it’s the only way to successfully solve the causes of racism and racial disparities in society.

Were you taught “critical race theory” in school? Do you think it will cause division or lead to healing? Where’s the line between exposing existing divisions and causing new ones?

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filmfann's avatar

CRT teaches that the government is designed to work against minorities.
America is far from perfect, but we are trying to be what we dream.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I was NOT taught critical race theory, and just the basics on many important historical events and issues that shape our world.
Frankly, I’m not sure I would have had the maturity to absorb and process such important information, even in high school.
As far as causing division or healing, when you involve children in adult issues, I think it’s always seen as a negative by many parents/adults.
Frankly, I think there are a lot of thing’s we aren’t taught in school, in depth, so perhaps instead of just critical race theory, we update the entire curriculum to include women’s issues, all minorities, native American Indians, etc…. If we’re going to actually educate the kids, let’s do a thorough job of it, not just cherry pick issues.

jellyjellyjelly's avatar

“Do you think it will cause division or lead to healing?”


Critical race theory has become a sprawling discipline. Some of what it teaches is powerful and important. Some of what it teaches is not.

Demosthenes's avatar

@jellyjellyjelly What parts of it do you consider to be powerful and important and what parts are not?

(I only know what it is at the surface level so I’d appreciate any expansion on the topic from those who know a bit more about it).

@filmfann CRT teaches that the government is designed to work against minorities.

Is that what is meant by “systemic racism”? Or is that unique to CRT?

elbanditoroso's avatar

White folks are shocked, shocked, shocked to hear that their ancestors acted in a way that disadvantaged and hurt blacks (and other minorities, but especially blacks).

Even though it is historically proven over and over again.

Why else does the South still call the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression”? Because the South’s entire economic system was based on free labor by blacks (i.e. slavery).

The whole CRT denialism is once again trying to dispute provable facts, to whitewash history and absolve white Christians of any possible taint of guilt.

Denying CRT is putting your head in the sand.

janbb's avatar

“Critical race theory” is a term co-opted by the Right from university academia. I suggest we just call it the true history of the United States and mandate that it be taught in age appropriate ways throughout the elementary curriculum.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Demosthenes Here’s a pretty interesting paper on CRT and the original intent.

kritiper's avatar

I would like to find a genuine definition of the term in a up-to-date dictionary, not just what some paper says, or Wikipedia, which isn’t genuine, IMO.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I would like to find a genuine definition of the term

There is no single definition. This isn’t physics

It’s a current scare phrase in the continual list of Republican distractions from reality. Remember when “Stop the Steal!!” was THE most important thing? Remember when North Korea nukes were THE most important thing? Remember when the “caravan of illegals” was THE most important thing?

People at Fox and on AM radio and in the GOP go to work every day with the goal of dreaming up, “what will make people mad?”

Trans high school athletes are another imaginary threat., I guarantee you will be hearing about Iran’s broken-down “navy” for the next week as if the next Pearl Harbor is imminent.

Shreiking about critical race theory is just one of the current fake dangers that cynical dishonest conservatives use to anger up the rubes.

kritiper's avatar

I don’t know what physics has to do with it, but it seems to me it would be easier to answer the question if everyone knew precisely what the term meant, with no assumptions involved.

JLeslie's avatar

I think we need to know exactly what is being taught when to make a judgment. My guess is each school district defines it a different way.

My general opinion is teach elementary age children about empathy, ignore race for the most part except in very basic ways so children learn to treat everyone equally, celebrate differences, have all different races and ethnicities represented in their text books, visual media, and let them play. I do think teaching about bigotry and racism can cause division and harm at this age. My biggest concern is for the minority child’s self esteem.

Middle school teach American history that starts to touch on some of the cruelties and inequities that have happened and laws enacted to help make things more equal. Laws for equality covers race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

High school more in depth regarding history on cruelties that happened, and about the systemic racism and inequities that exist today. This is just one class. I don’t mean every year in high school they are taught this topic. Also, in history, science, and many other classes always acknowledgement of historical figures from all races and genders who made great strides in those disciplines. During these acknowledgements they can teach the struggles they had with discrimination and their perseverance.

Also, in middle school or high school in world history would be at least a unit on the Holocaust and how Hitler rose to power and the atrocities.

@KNOWITALL I read part of your link, and the attack on meritocracy is so strange to me. I really need to read the arguments more closely. I feel like the term is being twisted.

jca2's avatar

I agree with those here who said we need to know more about what specifically is being taught (or is supposed to be taught) instead of a Wiki definition, political definition that has ulterior motives or a definition from elsewhere on the internet.

Demosthenes's avatar

It’s hard to find information about that—all I can find are complaints about CRT and how “we have to stop it!” but descriptions of what it actually would look like being taught in schools are few and far between beyond vague ideas that it’s divisive. What I could find was from obviously right-wing biased sources saying that CRT teaches students that America is a racist country, that “the system” is rigged against minorities, that students will only be taught about America’s evils and not about anything positive that happens in our history. But I don’t know how seriously I can take all that. It sounds like the same thing that Trump’s “patriotic education” was taking aim at.

KNOWITALL's avatar

This is from an educator and the best I could find with the least political bias.
Personally I think many just don’t want their children taught to empathize with minorities.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL That is a wonderfully clear and informative article. Thanks for posting it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@janbb You’re so welcome, I have a lot of respect for many educators so I figure go to the source. :)

TJFKAJ's avatar

It sounds like Marxism, but with the word “class” substituted with the word “race”.

kritiper's avatar

The truth hurts and some people get hurt more than others.
I could say, truthfully, that overpopulation is going to be the end of all life on the planet, and there would be people who would bitch and complain that what I say is wrong.
You just can’t please all of the people all of the time. And this is the truth about why critical race theory is so controversial.

Demosthenes's avatar

Here’s a good source that finally goes into how CRT is perceived by the right and why it’s so hated:

(Not denying this is biased; but my goal was to understand this perspective and this lays it out pretty clearly).

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes That is a thought provoking article.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Desmosthenes Yes, very interesting, thanks for sharing.

janbb's avatar

There’s a more nuanced article today about CRT is by Heather Cox Richardson: If I can find a good link when I am more awake, (or woke?) I’ll link it.

As I said above,it’s really an academic legal term that the right has co-opted to beat people with. General Mark Milley testified yesterday in Congress against accusations that the military was being weakened by studying racism. I believe we are entering a new MacCarthyite age.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Because it reveals that the idea of America being the “home of the free” has always been a myth.

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