To the editor,
A new phrase has burst into our conversations – Critical Race Theory. Some parents have been left reeling trying to figure out what this seemingly new topic is being introduced in K-12 education. This leads to many people talking past each other. I want to offer a helpful tip that will hopefully allow us to better engage in these discussions:
The term “racism” probably does not mean what you think it means.
The authors that are repeatedly suggested for reading such as Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi make this point in their books. Merriam-Webster even added a new definition for racism in June of 2020 amidst rising tensions, proving that there is a clear distinction in the two ways people use the term. Racism, as it has traditionally been understood, involves an individual or group believing that one race is inherently superior to another. But according to the major proponents of Critical Race Theory, this traditional definition is insufficient. They argue that racism is built into the systems and institutions of a society, leading to disparities between racial groups.
For the Critical Race Theorist, there is no question about whether racism exists. They simply assume that it does. Rather, they seek to find out where it exists. One only needs to cite various statistics to show how the current systems benefit the dominant racial group. In the context of the U.S., this would be white people. According to Critical Race Theory then, racism is built into our very foundations (the legal system, the Constitution, family structure, etc.), and will continue oppressing black people until those foundations are brought down.
The next time you are discussing these issues and the term “racism” comes up, make sure you understand the difference between these two definitions. If someone is trying to prove that racism exists by citing a statistical disparity between groups, they are likely using the new definition.