History Mindset politics

What Is Critical Race Theory? And Why Is It Causing Controversy?

man in gray tshirt holding a sign

Everyone feels uncomfortable when we talk about race. However, it seems we have to talk about it. There is no way of having racial justice and harmony without acknowledging the issues faced by people.

One of the main complaints regarding race is that it is often kept hidden from us. We know very little about the brutal history of racism. And how it has impacted systems to work against minorities. So, legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado worked on Critical Race Theory (CRT).

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical race theory is a theoretical framework that analyzes the relationship between race and society. It recognizes that racism has become entrenched in social structures and institutions, making racism difficult to eliminate.

Critical Race Theory views society as hierarchical with widespread discrimination against marginalized groups such as African Americans and females. It criticizes traditional anti-racist thought that suggests racism will eventually disappear.

Person Writing on White Paper
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

CRT contends we must address racism on many levels. Like, individual interactions and institutional discrimination to systems and structures of society.

The primary goal of CRT is to question practices and assumptions that maintain systemic racism in society. However, there is debate whether CRT is a movement or a school of thought in itself.

CRT acknowledges some may find this perspective discouraging because it may indicate societal change cannot happen (at least not immediately). Rather than seeing this theory as a negative critique of current efforts to address racial inequality. It can help us identify where it needs more attention.

Why is CRT causing controversy?

In the past few years, there is a ban on critical race theory (CRT) books. They’ve also removed from school curriculums across America. Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia state legislators have filed legislation to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in schools.

Photo of a mural in Wynwood about racism.
Photo by Hrt+Soul Design on Unsplash

This is due to their “controversial” content. Many people find it offensive and unhelpful. Proponents of CRT say that the potential for offense should not remove these texts from an academic setting because this would violate First Amendment rights.

Though CRT isn’t a topic that some groups believe is appropriate for students to learn about, particularly young students. A group of educators led by William Conner is vocally fighting the teaching of CRT in schools.

Conner said, “Parents are complaining weekly about the way racial issues are taught in the classroom. There seem to be a lot of politics being introduced into schools through critical race theory, which is never called that, but through the doctrine of it.”

Meanwhile, supporters of CRT believe they need to take a multidimensional approach when teaching children about racial history. Rather than whitewashing the history of the USA, they should make efforts to include all perspectives. Including, where the country triumphed and where they failed to implement equality.

Also read: Colorism: The Toxic History and The Present