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The Attack On Critical Race Theory And Ethnic Studies

 June 15, 2021 at 10:17 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Critical race theory has been at the center of a recent culture war surrounding what children are taught in school about race history and the contemporary impacts on institutions in this country. It's the parts of history, often omitted from history books, yet pivotal to ending systemic racism, San Diego union Tribune, columnist, Charles Clark explores the issues in a recent column. Charles, welcome. Thanks for having me for those who don't know what is critical race Speaker 2: 00:29 Of late. It's become a big buzzword. Um, but its roots actually go back several decades, uh, to the 1970s and eighties where it was really an academic concept that kind of grew out of a framework for legal analysis, um, and at its core kind of what the theory's purpose was, is to examine how racism, um, has shaped the us legal system and public policy, um, and how that's affected many aspects of American life and American institutions, not just historically, um, but well into the modern day. I mean, Speaker 1: 01:00 You know, from Missouri to Montana, there's legislation being written to ban, um, CRT from schools and 15 states have, as you mentioned in your piece, have introduced bills to restrict how racism, sexism and other societal issues are discussed in the classroom. So first who's opposing this education by Speaker 2: 01:18 And large it's conservatives. Um, in particularly I think a bit, you know, a certain brand of conservatism, um, you know, the freedom caucus folks like that, uh, they really have pushed this, um, as has, uh, former president Donald Trump who actually signed an executive order related to the issue. So Speaker 1: 01:39 Then why is there so much resistance to teaching students, critical race theory from, from these people? Speaker 2: 01:46 Well, their contention is that it is divisive, um, and it will make kids hate each other. Uh, and you know, really it kind of gets to kind of this whole cultural wars thing. And, you know, I think some of them like the heritage foundation, you know, these groups that don't want to acknowledge the systemic racism as a thing, um, you know, part of CRT is you kind of just explicitly are acknowledging that that is a very real thing. Um, so they really don't want to get into that very much. It seems to be, at least as I understand it, when I see her parents and some of the emails I got that were rather angry about me writing about it, uh, it was very much this attitude about we don't want white kids to feel guilty. Um, and maybe that's a blunt way to put it, but that's more or less what they're getting at is we don't want white kids to be, feel like they're guilty or that they did something inherently just because they're white. Um, and in some cases they kind of, the natural progression of that is the people who opposed CRT, at least this very vocal group, they kind of contend that it is inherently racist against white people. But where does that Speaker 1: 02:58 Idea from, and how is the understanding of this curriculum? So vastly different among people, Speaker 2: 03:05 You know, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure kind of how they got to AA to be that, to see there if, if I'm being quite honest. Um, cause I think as I kind of noted in my piece, I think generally speaking, I would hope that most people are intelligent enough to distinguish that no, simply being white doesn't mean you're racist. Um, you know, the, the calculus seems to be that it is a very, you know, opportunistic political tool, uh, to get people out to vote. Yeah. Speaker 1: 03:38 And I was going to ask, you know, do you sense that arguments against critical race theory are disingenuous? And if so, in what ways? Speaker 2: 03:47 The main reason I, I view the arguments as disingenuous generally speaking, um, is I think, you know, most of the time when I hear people making the arguments, they're applying it rather broadly to something that isn't exclusively CRT. Um, and more often than not, it turns into this conversation about it. It's kind of like the patriotic education thing, right? We want history taught a certain way or pretending that there isn't a real reason that something like CRT is needed and that's where it kind of irks me because, you know, I think it's one thing to debate the specific merits of this kind of analytical framework. Um, and again, I, I do think there's a fair critique in that it's a little too broad and nebulous, but there's another thing where you're kind of using it to try to snuff out any discussion of any kind of education program that requires kids to think critically about race and racism, you know, frankly, from a personal perspective. Speaker 2: 04:51 I think part of the reason that irks me so much is it wasn't that long ago that I was in school. And I think about the fact that things, you know, from the Tulsa race massacre to Emmett till and all these different things that really weren't taught, you know, even Henrietta lacks, right? Uh, just, there's a lot of parts of history that, you know, very intentionally have been excluded from classrooms and things, because I think we want it to perpetuate this idea of American righteousness and excellence when the reality is, you know, this is a country that like we struggle with stomach racism. It was a country founded on the genocide of one group of people in the enslavement of another, another Speaker 1: 05:34 Issue. I mean, do you think that part of the problem is that some people don't have a real understanding of what racism is? Speaker 2: 05:42 Yes I do. And I think it's because there's a tendency with a certain segment of folks that they want to think of racism as someone burning across in your yard, right? Or, you know, openly calling you slur something that is a very, you know, clear overactive racism when you recognize and acknowledge that racism, isn't just an individual over act, but a systemic thing we're institutions and things have consistently punched down at people. Um, the flip side of that is on some level you have to kind of acknowledge that you inherently had some advantages over other people. And I don't think it's necessarily an American thing, but I think most of us want to believe that we've earned everything we've got. And, you know, we, we like to entertain right, that we went through this adversity and that we, we got everything on our own merits. And I think, you know, when you have to acknowledge the systemic racism is a real thing, you kind of acknowledge that, you know, you've got an upper hand that a lot of other people weren't afforded and I don't think that makes you a bad person, but I think a lot of people really struggle to accept that Speaker 1: 07:00 Speaking to Charles Clark columnists with the San Diego union Tribune, Charles, thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me dread.

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Critical Race Theory is among the most hotly contested educational concepts in the nation, and 15 states have introduced bills to restrict how racism, sexism and other societal issues are discussed in the classroom. Some critics claim the theory advocates discriminating against white people. Where does that idea come from and how is the understanding of this curriculum so vastly different among people?
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