Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: Why are people afraid of critical race theory?

The Florida Department of Education banned more than 50 math textbooks from its schools last week. It claims some of the books contain prohibited topics about critical race theory. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is supporting the extra measures being taken which are creating divides in both the meaning of critical race theory and the unifying effect it is meant to have. 

“The woke class wants to teach kids to hate each other, rather than teaching them how to read,” DeSantis said to the state’s board of education in June 2021, shortly before they banned critical race theory being taught in Florida schools. 

Critical race theory acknowledges the deep-rooted racism in our society by immersing topics such as slavery and colonization into the curriculum. This is common in colleges across the U.S. but not as much in the younger classrooms. U.C.L.A. School of Law and Columbia Law School professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw played a part in developing the concept. 

“It is a way of seeing, attending to, accounting for, tracing and analyzing the ways that race is produced, the ways that racial inequality is facilitated, and the ways that our history has created these inequalities that now can be almost effortlessly reproduced unless we attend to the existence of these inequalities,” Crenshaw said in an interview with the New York Times. 

The way the definition of critical race theory has been misconstrued can destroy the original intent of creating a safe space for minorities. 

“The rhetoric allows for racial equity laws, demands and movements to be framed as aggression and discrimination against white people,” Crenshaw said. 

This is exactly what the Florida Department of Education is framing it as. It laid out its thoughts regarding the situation in a press release

“When it comes to education, other states continue to follow Florida’s lead as we continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in the release. 

Critical race theory was never meant to be a divisive and hateful topic. Legal scholar Derrick Bell referred to as the godfather of critical race theory dedicated his life to studying racism as a permanent feature of America. 

In an interview at his New York University Law School office, Bell said he elicits a different reaction when explaining his thoughts on race to Black groups rather than white groups. 

“It reaffirms that it is not their fault,” he said. “It is an affirmation of themselves and not a basis for despair.”

There is something fundamentally backward about white people using their fragility as grounds to abolish a concept beneficial to all marginalized groups. It is especially evil for the oppressor to rob Black people of the opportunity to feel recognized after generations of trauma and abuse.

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