Critical Race Theory looks at society
Critical Race Theory is not what most people think it is. It is a way of looking at how society is structured, how that structure perpetuates inequality and how people are perceived and treated, ultimately impacting their ability to move up in our society.
It is not a theory that racism is everywhere, and we are all racists. It is about looking at society and how its structure perpetuates structural or systemic racism.
Because this theory looks at our whole society, it is a population-based theory that is not true for any single person. An individual can still achieve great things and move up in our merit-based society. But for a group of people, the impacts are more likely to be true.
An example of how societal structure impacts opportunity can be seen with school funding. When school funding is low, administrators must choose where to spend those funds. In K-12 education, spending it on the building, teachers, books, computers, etc., are choices that impact the quality of education.
This impacts how students feel about themselves and where they stand in society.
A school in disrepair tells students they are not valued. Old books, poor teachers impact student learning. As such, opportunity for all students in this situation is reduced. Student self-worth, their belief in the system, their drive to achieve in the traditional way that we as a society define it, is impacted.
The result often perpetuates of long-standing societal definition of “those people” as lacking any drive or motivation.
This is how structural racism works. It is not that you or I are racist, but the system is set up to perpetuate our stereotypes.
If school funding is tied to property taxes, in areas with low rates of homeownership or lack of businesses, school funding is inadequate. So, many areas that are poor remain poor.
Cities where the rich and businesses move out for tax relief or other reasons, they lose property taxes, and school funding goes down. If cities or communities attract businesses but are given long-term property tax relief, they may provide jobs, but they do not provide a tax base for schools.
How we fund schools is not, on its face racist, but its impact may be. CRT provides a framework to examine and suggest how we can change this structure, property tax funding of schools, to something that provides equal and consistent funding that will allow our schools to be physically appealing with current technologies, books and well-paid teachers, who can provide not just the knowledge base, but inspiration as well.
Students need more than just the facts, but the inspiration for pursuing dreams.
Now those who study CRT do include people who want immediate dramatic action, but more understand this is a long-term process that begins with identifying those structures which perpetuate racial and economic discrimination.
To be clear, one cannot actually teach CRT to elementary students as there is no possible way they could understand. But acknowledging this method is certainly a way in which we as a society can continue to grow as a more inclusive society with equal opportunity, and hopefully, equal justice.
It does ask us to look at how we teach history and acknowledge our true fact-based history rather than the white-biased history we have taught. By doing so we can actually get closer to our perfect union and get us closer to seeing each other by the character of their person and not the color of their skin.
Stephen M. LoRusso