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Critical Race Theory: Isn’t Honesty Best in our Classrooms?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Critical race theory (CRT) is a concept that has been around for decades, used to interpret laws in graduate and law schools. However, this primarily academic theory has increasingly become political, hotly contested, and often misunderstood.

Conservatives have twisted the meaning of CRT by assuming that pointing out systems of oppression will make one race the “enemy” and the other the “victim.” Critics allege that CRT threatens the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, proclaiming that CRT teaches that whites are privileged oppressors and blacks are victims, causing young whites to feel “guilty.”

Republicans have used the term to discredit or denounce a wide range of diversity and equity, prompting lawmakers in 22 states to propose limits on how schools can talk about racial issues. Laws have actually passed in six of them.

None of these bills explicitly mention critical race theory in their text, but legislators pushing them have invoked the educational movement as they advocate for the legislation. Each bill places recently expanded curriculums on racial inequality in jeopardy.

In response to a turbulent year of protest over disproportionate police violence and brutality against Black people, some curriculums now include more racialized historical events. The goal is to make sure every student is respected and treated equally.

In an anti-racist and anti-bias classroom, teachers must use age-appropriate language and examples to talk about fairness, justice, and equality. CRT does not attack individual students over their privilege, but instead makes them aware of how different systems discriminate against others.

Educators seek to foster open discussions about the brutal and disturbing truths about racism, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the Tulsa race riots, and more recent events such as the shooting of George Floyd.

Past and current events should not be ignored or distorted. Yet, many conservatives continue to pledge fealty to their deposed king, Donald Trump, who still spews hatred and racial epithets daily. Voices of dissent and common sense must not remain silent in the face of this onslaught of fake news from Trump and his minions.

Here is the central issue: Don't our students deserve an honest appraisal of our nation’s history — good, bad, or ugly — if our society is to learn lessons from its past and implement change?

Mark M. Bello, a trial lawyer, is the author of “Betrayal in Black" and other ‘ripped from the headlines’ Zachary Blake Social Justice Legal Thrillers available on and other online booksellers. For more information, please visit Mark also is co-host of the new podcast, Justice Counts, now streaming.

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