Critical Race Theory In The USA: Take Care Of The Whites
The black George Floyd is killed by a white policeman. Tens of thousands of people take to the streets in the United States. Black Lives Matter — Black lives matter. Donald Trump speaks as president about the “China virus” and means Corona. How do teachers explain to their students what is going on in their country, how do they address racism in the USA? In Oklahoma, from now on, it is no longer in such a way that students could “feel uneasy, guilty or grief” because of their skin color. A new law should ensure this in the republican-ruled state since this week.
Mainly white pupils are meant. When it comes to racism in the classroom , teachers should make sure that whites don’t feel guilty about being part of a racist group. Specifically, it says in the legal text that “no teacher … may make the following concepts part of a course: a) that a race or a gender of another raceor is superior to another gender from the start; b) that an individual is by nature racist, sexist or repressive because of his skin color or his gender, whether consciously or unconsciously difficult under these conditions.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a white mob attacked the homes and businesses of black citizens. They destroyed an entire neighborhood and injured more than 800 people. Historians estimate that up to 300 people died. What words should teachers say about the history of their own state without mentioning the feeling of superiority of whites and deliberate, deadly racism? If they get it wrong, if they break the new law, they face punishment. Exactly which one is yet to be determined by the school authorities.
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In order to convey the law to voters, especially the parents among them, the Republicans linked it to a term that sounds threatening to many white Americans: they want to stop the critical race theory in schools. So said Kevin West, Republican MP and one of the initiators of the law, in the Oklahoma Parliament . “Don’t be under any illusions. We are in a battle for the future of our children and our grandchildren. The theories and teachings of the Critical Race Theory, this curriculum … that goes against everything this nation was founded on and what we are want to maintain.”
School of thought from the seventies
For conservative politicians and activists, Critical Race Theory has become what is called a catchall word in the USA : a single catchphrase with which all emotions and resentments of one’s own camp can be activated. A term that sounds academic enough to disguise the fact that the point is not to overdo racism education.
The Critical Race Theory is actually about something completely different.
The school of thought arose out of a legal debate in the 1970s. At the time, Derrick Bell, a professor at Harvard Law School, criticized that the legislative changes and liberalizations that arose from the civil rights movement were not enough to actually correct the racial injustice in the country. On the contrary, he and others believed and believe that the laws and all government action in the United States tend to entrench and reproduce racism in the country. The supporters of the Critical Race Theory believe that there cannot be real equality through changes in the law alone. Your academic critics, in turnaccuse them of one-sidedness because factors other than skin color influenced inequality in the USA and the laws of the country.
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“Critical Race Theory is a theory about the relationship between laws and racial inequality,” says Khiara Bridges, a law professor at Berkeley University who has written a book on the subject. “It’s a progressive way of thinking about racism and in some circles you’re willing to call it radical,” says Bridges. These academic debates have nothing to do with school lessons. But believing that teachers teach something like this in schools is like teaching quantum physics to kindergarten kids, Bridges says.
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But the label is ideal for another round of culture wars on the way to the midterm elections in the US Congress next year. “Critical Race Theory sounds scary and like something you can stand up against in a morally upright opposition,” says Bridges. “That’s one reason why this particular term has such credibility with so many people.”
Fox News has mentioned the term more than 1,800 times this year, according to the Washington Post . In 2020 it only occurred 132 times. Conservative activist Christopher Rufo tweeted in March: “The goal is to get people reading something crazy in the paper and immediately thinking, ‘Critical Race Theory.’ We have decoded the term and will link it to a whole range of cultural constructs, the are unpopular in America.”
When ex-President Trump appeared in front of supporters in Ohio last weekend , he spoke several times of Critical Race Theory and called for a ban in schools, in military academies and in the government. The people cheered. Most likely without knowing what the term actually means. For them, it’s about maintaining their white worldview of a great nation. A worldview that they think they have to defend against all who they see as aggressors and badgers.
Four other states have already passed laws similar to those in Oklahoma, and more than a dozen other states have passed similar proposals to parliament . In Tennessee, Republican Governor Bill Lee said students should learn about “the extraordinaryness of our nation” rather than things that “naturally separate people.” A corresponding law came into force there this week as well .
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What does all this mean for practice in schools? In Oklahoma, according to the school board, there has never been a complaint that Critical Race Theory was taught. The Oklahoma State School Boards Association, which represents the interests of public schools, has now published a brief guide on how to deal with the new law, emphasizing that it is still not forbidden to speak about racism. But teachers now have to rethink how. At the end of the guide, the organization refers to its legal advice for teachers for safety reasons.
In Utah, where parliament is debating a similar bill, Natalie Cline is a member of the 15-member Utah State Board of Education, which oversees guidelines for educational institutions. She posted on Facebook in November : “Warning: Black Lives Matter Indoctrination is coming to a school near you! … I’ll fight to keep this out of Utah’s schools!” Again and again she calls for the “Marxist Critical Race Theory” to be stopped in schools. Democratic MPs left parliament in protest at the end of May during a debate on the legal situation.
At the federal level, too, in Washington DC, the culture war has long since arrived. Matt Gaetz, Conservative MP and Trump loyalist, brought the warning about the Critical Race Theory into the debate about whether and how to deal with the issue of racism at the United States Military Academy. The renowned university trains a large part of the next generation of officers in the USA. But Gaetz did not expect General Mark Milley’s contradiction: “I want to understand the white frenzy, and I am white, and I want to understand it,” said the chairman of the chiefs of staff of the military, who advise the president. Gaetz meant the present, not the past, of the USA. “So what is it that led thousands to build this building (the Capitol)storm and try to overthrow the United States Constitution? I want to find out … It’s important to our military.”
White frenzy? Teachers in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and other states must now weigh their words much more carefully than General Milley. Oklahoma City Community College has removed a summer course on racism from its curriculum as a precaution.
Originally published at https://zaviews.blogspot.com.