The Type of Critical Race Theory We Really Need

What is Critical Race Theory?   Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old.

by Marvin Banks, Jr., MBA, Guest Opinion

It seems as if we are inundated daily by propaganda from the right.  Blue Lives Matter, Trump’s Big Lie about the last presidential election, and most recently Critical Race Theory.  I first became aware that this is a talking point for conservatives when I saw a random white woman crying about Critical Race Theory at a school board meeting on the news.  History has shown me that whenever these fake tears are present there is usually some sort of manipulation or shady business behind the theatrics.  So, I decided to look further into what Critical Race Theory is and how it is defined. 

What is Critical Race Theory?   Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.  It is a concept that is mainly taught in law school, and higher education courses.  Not in K -12.  

As a black man who was educated in public schools, I knew for certain the probability of Critical Race Theory being taught in K -12 is very low.  The same school system that tried to teach me 30 plus years ago that Egypt was not a part of Africa surely isn’t teaching this concept.  The same school system that to this day still attempts to miseducate our children by labeling enslaved Africans as workers, and not what they really were.  Hostages who were sold by their fellow people to others who kept them against their will.  Forced to work for free, under the penalty of being tortured, or worse killed is not teaching this concept.  

Surely this is another lie or con game being used by those on the right to distract us from what is really important.  But what are we being distracted from? I would submit, the attack on our voting rights, an ever-increasing racial wealth gap, and a criminal justice system that needs not only reform but a complete overhaul just to name a few.   

While the propaganda being spread about this concept may be another political Red Herring, I still believe we need to teach our children to approach thinking about the systems that have oppressed us in a critical fashion.  It is said that if your child is only being educated by the school system they aren’t being educated. It is our duty to make sure our youth are properly educated.  

Teaching our children about atrocities like  the Tulsa Race Massacre and the history behind  Juneteenth is not enough.  We need to teach them about Mass Incarceration, and how prosecutors with disproportionate power work in tandem with corrupt law enforcement to keep us over policed, over sentenced, and over incarcerated as a people.  

We need to teach them that not only was black wealth destroyed by white domestic terrorist like in Tulsa, OK, but it was kept from even existing by racist polices like red lining and covenant laws.  We need to teach them how Black Soldiers who fought for this country were denied access to benefits their white counterparts were given to build weath like VA Loans and the GI Bill.  Black soldiers like my father who fought for a country that didn’t even give them full citizenship.  

We need to teach them that those soldiers are the real patriots, not the fake patriots who marched the Capitol or those who make excuses for them.  Our youth need to be taught this so that they  know how to navigate a system that is meant to keep them second class.  It is important that they know that a debt is still owed to us, and we must not stop until that debt is paid.  This is the type of Critical Race Theory education we all need.


On Key

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