So there’s been a lot of discussion regarding CRT and why it shouldn’t be taught in school. I say, what’s the big deal? Certainly kids should know all about cathode ray tubes, I mean, they were part of the early construction of television, and for decades the cathode ray tube was the primary manner for which television programs entered our homes.
Yeah, cathode ray tubes. CRT’s.
Oh, you don’t mean CRT as Cathode Ray Tube, but as Critical Race Theory?
Emily Litella says Never mind.
Well, actually, yeah. I kinda mind. Because what people are doing now, rather than saying “critical race theory” is something that frightens them if their kids learn about it, they’re instead using it as an acronym. “Ban CRT in schools,” they say. Because “CRT” to them, by using those initials rather than the words they represent, allows them to distance themselves from the discussion, and make an acronymic straw man to knockdown instead.
Same thing with using the initials “BLM” instead of Black Lives Matter. Because God forbid, a racist uses the words “Black Lives Matter,” because for them, saying those three words is anathema to their core beliefs. They don’t want to say “Black Lives Matter,” because to them, black lives don’t matter. Or they’ll counter with “all lives matter,” hoping that you’ll completely forget about the disparate and unequal treatment that people of color deal with every single day.
Then there’s the racists who claim that we don’t need Juneteenth as a national holiday, because we already have Independence Day as a holiday, why should we – God forbid – need a special Black Independence Day? Wasn’t 1776 good enough for black people?
Slow your roll. Black people in 1776 America were predominantly slaves and chattel. They were not free. There was no independence for them. And even after the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, a black man could still be enslaved due to a loophole in the Constitutional Amendment.
Here’s the 13th Amendment, read it carefully. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
That highlighted clause essentially meant that as long as you convicted a black man of a crime, whatever crime that might be, he could now be a slave in prison labor. And those crimes could range from the minuscule to the egregious. In the South, “reckless eyeballing” could get a black man thrown in jail, and that’s just one example. And that could put a black man back in chains.
You think I’m making this up? Please be aware of this. Prison labor is still legal in this country. A prisoner can be forced to provide his services for pennies on the dollar. In understanding critical race theory, you also need to understand that it was loopholes like prison labor and the three-fifths compromise and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments that subjugated black Americans into this separate AND unequal treatment.
And before any of you says to me, “Oh, you’re saying that America is the only country with systemic racism, nowhere else, right?” I never said that. I would argue that there’s a form of critical race theory for nearly every country on this Earth. The residential schools in Canada. The stolen generation in Australia. The caste system and partition in India and Pakistan. The bitter fight over possession of Jerusalem. Ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and in Croatia. The horrible treatment of Uyghurs in China. We need to understand, not just in America, but worldwide, that there are dark, unsettling incidents in our past that we must address. And if you discover that your great-grandparents were the owners of your neighbors’ great-grandparents, then the fact is that we need to understand how far we’ve come, and how far we must go.
And shortening “critical race theory” into a quick-and-dirty acronym won’t help anybody. And telling people that they can’t teach this part of history is why the 1921 Tulsa Massacre was hidden from sight for nearly a century. When your first understanding of the Tulsa Massacre came from watching the pilot episode of HBO’s Watchmen, then you need to understand there’s a big fucking gap in your history books.
And if these people claim that teaching critical race theory is bad, what’s next? Will they not allow kids to watch To Kill a Mockingbird or Twelve Years a Slave or Raisin in the Sun? Then again, are these the same people who will argue that films like Birth of a Nation and Song of the South should be seen more frequently and that they are the collateral damage of “cancel culture?”
Yeesh. Don’t even.
Let me lead back to my original statement. Critical race theory is not some terrifying classroom boogeyman that will cause your kids to hate their parents. That’s the same half-assed shit that parents used to ban rock and roll in the 1950’s.
We are better than this. Knowledge is power. And the lack of knowledge is the loss of power.
And the first thing you need to know is …
You have no reason to fear knowing about Critical Race Theory.
And you have no reason to fear knowing about cathode ray tubes.