True understanding of Critical Race Theory can help bridge our divisions

  • Clyde Brooks

    Clyde Brooks

 
By Clyde Brooks
Guest columnist
Updated 9/10/2021 9:35 AM

All across America, teachers, school administrators and others in the field of education, are being falsely accused and criticized for teaching what is being called the Critical Race Theory.

It is believed these allegations stem from individuals who support a specific political ideology. In part, opposition to the theory is due to a hesitancy to openly discuss issues of race and a wish to maintain the status quo, to continue the ignorance and to refuse to acknowledge what many Americans -- Black, white and other -- experience in their lives.

 

Critical Race Theory is a concept which seeks to present our country's history as it actually occurred and to stop promoting an altered, whitewashed version, in spite of how uncomfortable that may be for some Americans. The theory recognizes that race is central to the development of the United States and every aspect of it. The theory does not encompass, presuppose or require an opinion, one way or the other. No pro or con position is involved, for it is simply an examination of facts.

Failure to accurately teach American history has led some to believe that skin color does not matter and that everyone, regardless of race, is able to access and enjoy the same, equal opportunities our great nation has to offer. This lack of honesty, especially in education, where it begins, has the power to skew the thinking of individuals from their earliest years and has led to the racial divide that exists and has always existed.

Unfortunately, there are far too many who are misinformed, influenced by individuals who are supporters of far-right, conservative political, media, faith-based organizations and other groups and are willing to go to extremes to resist the organic change that is occurring in America.

Many people who attack Critical Race Theory know little about race relations and the reality of the dual societies -- white and Black -- that exists in America. Therefore, because they are misinformed, when invoking their freedom of speech, they are perpetuating that misinformation and this ignorance serves only to further exacerbate the racial divide.

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The theory does not disregard America's greatness but rather seeks to bring truth and balance to our history. If Critical Race Theory were taught in our schools, examples of historical facts that would be included in teaching curriculums could include:

• Exploring melanin in human development

• Six United States presidents with African American backgrounds

• Inventions by African Americans central to daily life

• White Privilege

• Rise of White Nationalism

• Central Park Five

• Tulsa, Oklahoma, Insurrection

• Dred Scott Decision and its current relevance

• Kerner Report and its current relevance today

If schools were truly teaching the Critical Race Theory, our students -- from their youth and the learning they take with them as they evolve into adulthood -- would be better equipped to eliminate the racial divide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Let's make it abundantly clear: Our schools are not teaching anything like the Critical Race Theory. If they did, white privilege, white nationalism and true American history would be better understood.

The theory, if taught, would allow students and perhaps even their parents to comprehend the struggles of all Americans. That comprehension would hopefully lead to the realization that we are becoming a better nation by embracing everyone, of all skin colors, faiths, genders, cultures and all of the many things that make us different from each other.

• The Rev. Clyde H. Brooks, of Arlington Heights, is chairman of the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations.

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