There’s been quite a stir these past few years in the mainstream media about critical race theory. It’s extremely important for us, as incarcerated people, to understand it because it speaks to why the prison system is disproportionally black.
I posed the question: ‘What is critical race theory?’ to many of my colleagues. To my surprise, most of them were uncertain. Education Weekly defines critical race theory (CRT) as an academic concept that observes the perpetuation racial inequality. 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. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a new concept. It’s a scholastic perspective that’s over 40 years old.
Some suggest that the teaching of critical race theory is essential to the healing concerning racial conflict in America. Others say that the teaching of this history serves to maintain the divide in black and white relations in this country. Consider it a case of the ‘truth hurts’ vs. basking in blissful ignorance.
CRT views race as solely a social construction without any truth bearing in biological reality. That is to say, the CRT scholars acknowledge that there is no biological difference between races, and that the concept of races being fundamentally different is a complete fabrication. Though a construct, CRT acknowledges that the idea of race is significant and thus, guides race relations and interactions on cultural, social, and legal spectrums.
CRT suggests that this country systemically promotes a racial caste system, where minorities are relegated to the lower tiers of society.
If CRT has been around as long as 40 years ago, why is it just becoming popular now? Well, to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last decade or so, the recent events leading to what is now recognized as the ‘racial reckoning’ has brought awareness to many Americans about the unfair practices used to continuously oppress the black American population. In the view of CRT, the subjugation of black people has persisted way beyond their enslavement, and has been legally promoted and protected by law in America. The issue now — with the continuous validation of this theory — it has enough merit to guide the curriculums of K-12. Many state legislators (largely conservative Republicans) are rushing to ban the teachings of this theory at the grade school level.
I am of the opinion that, though the truth can be hard to bear, the truth sets you free. I believe that the teaching of critical race theory will be the start of setting this country free from its vile racial divide. Others believe that the teaching of CRT will lead to further the divide in this country. What do you think?
Prompt: Write a paragraph or more describing your opinion on CRT, and your opinion on whether or not it should be allowed to be taught in grade school. Additionally, if you can, trying answering some of the foundational questions of CRT to add more opinion to your piece.
*How do you think law protects racism and upholds racial hierarchies?
*How does law reproduce racial inequalities?
*How can law be used to dismantle race, racism, and racial inequalities?
*How do you think law constructs race?
— Peace and Love, Q