by Jonathan Barnes
Five years ago, hardly anyone knew what Critical Race Theory (CRT) was, but now the phrase is a common one in American households. The Marxist-based theory advocating a race-essentialist approach to education, law, public policy, and even health care, seeks to deconstruct the foundations of society and rebuild it as “antiracist,” while discriminating against whites along the way. Many people are overwhelmed with both the pervasiveness of the doctrine and the large task of fighting it.
Parents in Loudon County, VA, have tackled the issue head on, making national news by loudly criticizing CRT and electing school board members opposed to it. Such efforts, however, have been piecemeal nationwide.
Momentum in fighting this hate-doctrine is growing, though, and many parents want to know how they can protect their children and eradicate such teaching from their local schools. Catrin Wigfall, a Policy Fellow with the Center of the American Experiment, offers some practical ways parents can fight CRT.
“Efforts to push back against CRT and identity politics in general must start at the local level,” she said. “Grassroots activism is key to making meaningful progress against efforts to reduce our children and society to the color of their skin.” She recommends running for school board, reviewing school policies, and reviewing school curriculum.
Assuming teachers are teaching the right things to kids is not an option; you need to know precisely what is being taught in your local schools. “Ask your child about the books they are reading in class and what they discussed,” said Wigfall. “Efforts to stand up for all students must include student voices, as they are the ones facing and battling the divisive ideology.”
Some states are passing legislation against teaching CRT, but these laws won’t do the trick nationally or in perpetuity. President Trump passed laws banning CRT in government, and these were overturned once Biden got into office. Legislation banning CRT was introduced in the U.S. Congress last summer, but the question of whether this problem can be solved nationally remains.
In the meantime, parents need to make progress where they can, and that starts with truly understanding their cause. CRT doctrine must be widely understood and deconstructed for what it truly is: race essentialism, or the idea that racial groups possess underlying essences that represent deep-rooted, unalterable traits and abilities.
Changing hearts and minds must also be part of the process. “Fighting against Critical Race Theory must be a fight against its tenets and principles. Slapping a CRT ‘ban’ here and there isn’t the solution,” Wigfall said. “Many on the left defend CRT [saying] it’s merely ‘teaching an accurate history’ or a legal theory to explore how institutions and society are systemically racist. The problem is CRT goes deeper than that [so] it’s important to define CRT as it defines itself.”
Teachers were confronted head on with the issue of CRT when American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten publicly declared war against CRT opponents in mid-2021. Many teachers feel stuck in their jobs and don’t know how it’s possible to fight this scourge. But it may be simpler than some think. “We must inform educators of their options regarding union membership—that they no longer have to financially support a teachers’ union to keep their job,” Wigfall said.
If teachers and parents look around, they’ll find there are many organizations successfully opposing CRT. One example of this came in August 2021, when the Minnesota-based Upper Midwest Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Lakeville Area School District for the posting of Black Lives Matter posters on school property while refusing to post divergent views, such as All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. This is just one of many lawsuits nationwide brought by those whom CRT has harmed, including medical workers, parents, and students.
The Long March
It seems the only way to oppose and defeat CRT is to fight continuously and with a long-haul approach in mind. The fight will take years, perhaps decades. But it’s a good fight, and those called to it must engage for battle. Parents should not be dismayed; instead, they should educate themselves, organize, and seek help from groups already battling CRT.
And they should pray for their children, political leaders, and teachers … and not be afraid.
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Jonathan Barnes is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh.
Photo “Critical Race Theory” by college.library CC BY 2.0.