Any St. Louisan who has been paying even a meager amount of attention to local news this past year is familiar with many ignorant residents’ new education buzzword. Last year around this time, it was the perceived threat of their children going to school online.
Like clockwork, however, when one issue (partially) sinks back under the misguided radar of so-called “concerned parents,” another one is located front and center. This year, it’s the widely misinterpreted social practice of critical race theory.
Deemed “propaganda” and an “evil political ideology,” by local Rockwood School District parents, critical race theory has become the next over-attacked enemy of ignorant, and frankly racist, people. They believe it’s an attack on them personally, when it’s actually a decades-old and ever-evolving study of institutionalized racism in America. In reality, critical race theory is not something to be afraid of, but instead a tool we should embrace to better understand the history and actuality of our nation.
As sociologist Rashawn Ray writes for Brookings, “Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race.”
Almost too predictably, those who fear race-related education sank their teeth into critical race theory, constructing a false narrative of the theory, which they then proceeded to rip apart. The theory studies U.S. society through a critical, racial lens—a nightmare-inducing feat for those who wish to keep their bubble of savioristic, white America intact.
One parent in particular, who also attended the infamous Rockwood School District parent public forum regarding critical race theory in schools, puts into words perfectly the ideology of those who oppose critical race theory: “just because I don’t want critical race theory taught to my children at school doesn’t make me a racist, damnit.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s exactly what it means, and here’s why.