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A CRT update; Stay WOKE America!

TSD education columnist Curtis Weathers says, ” … we need to stay informed and aware of what’s happening around us, especially concerning the politics of public education.”

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest war on racial truth, this update might be helpful in getting you caught up.

And trust me, you want to stay current on what is happening in our nation concerning this particular topic. 

It has been a couple of years now since the acronym “CRT” was reintroduced to the American lexicon, so let’s refresh our memories.    

CRT, or Critical Race Theory, is a social discipline primarily used in university-level courses. The term has been around since the 1970s. 

CRT was first used as a tool to help law students think critically about the impact of historical and present-day racism on our legal systems. 

In the 1990s, some colleges of education started incorporating CRT into their coursework to help aspiring school administrators and teachers better understand inequities in the context of schooling.

In its simplest form, critical race theory, or CRT, centers on the idea that racism is systemic in American institutions.

The phrase “critical race theory” has grown both in scope and application.  It is now cited as the basis of all diversity and inclusion efforts, regardless of how much it has actually informed those programs. 

Conservative organizations around the country continue to attribute a host of racially sensitive issues to CRT, including the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity training in federal agencies and organizations, free-speech debates on college campuses, and even the involvement of LGBTQ clubs in schools and events.  

These conservative organizations continue to suggest that “CRT is destructive and rejects the fundamental ideas on which our constitutional republic is based.”

Kimberle Crenshaw, a professor at Columbia University and UCLA Law Schools and a critical race theory trailblazer, warns us that “the rightwing battle against racial justice education not only threatens U.S. democracy but encourages a revival of segregationist values and policies.”

By the way, Crenshaw and two other colleagues – Neil Gotanda and Stephanie Phillips – coined the phrase “Critical Race Theory.”

To date, more than 35 states have passed or considered legislation on race education. The numbers continue to grow. 

Headlines from around the country paint an ominous picture of the battles taking place in school districts and state legislatures over the proper application of CRT in our schools and classrooms.

In Texas: “Investigation into Texas School Districts Reveals Educators ‘Get Around’ Critical Race Theory Ban.”

In Ohio:Critical race theory video discussed at Upper Arlington school board meeting.

In New York:  “NYC forces all city employees to undergo radical critical race theory training: ‘Really unfair.”

In Arkansas: “(Gov.) Sarah Sanders defends critical race theory ban as Arkansas governor.”

In Tennessee: “Tennessee legislature passes bill banning “Critical Race Theory” in higher education.”

In South Carolina:SC efforts continue to teach Black history despite attempts to end ‘woke indoctrination.

To date, the following states have completely banned critical race theory: Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Sixteen additional states have bans in progress and 29 have no prohibitions or restrictions, yet.  

Interestingly, while states in the deep South are widely represented in the number of anti-CRT bills being put forth in legislative chambers around the country, a surprising number of states from the Midwest have also given the nod to restricting how race is taught in their state school curriculums.

Now, as if things weren’t interesting enough, another acronym has joined the CRT debate: WOKE. 

The term WOKE was coined initially by progressive Black Americans and used in racial justice movements in the early to mid-1900s.

Being “WOKE” politically in the Black community means being educated, informed, and conscious of racial and social injustices. 

Some conservatives, however, are using it as an insult against progressive values.

“Stop WOKE” legislation, introduced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, “prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex, or national origin, and blocks businesses from using diversity practices or training that could make employees feel guilty for similar reasons.”

Under the Stop WOKE. Act, educators in Florida are being restricted, or restricting themselves out of fear, from teaching about many of the events and people that make up the history of this nation. 

This legislation, reportedly, was passed against the will of a broad cross-section of Florida residents and students who testified to legislators about the harm it would cause in the state and to their community’s efforts to challenge injustice. 

It is a dangerous piece of legislation. 

DeSantis, notoriously, could care less. 

DeSantis, who reportedly is considering a presidential run next year, clearly is positioning the CRT debate as a key wedge issue for his campaign. It will be a major issue in defining his candidacy and what he stands for.  

So, the CRT debate will continue to gain momentum throughout our nation and will surface during the presidential campaign as a significant issue that will undoubtedly divide the American people once again along racial lines.  

In the spirit of WOKE’s original intent, we need to stay informed and aware of what’s happening around us, especially concerning the politics of public education. 

There is much more to come, so stay tuned, and stay WOKE, people. 

(Follow me, TSD’s education columnist, on Twitter @curtisweathers. Email me at curtislweathers@gmail.com.)

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