To the editor,

A recent letter (“Another view of Critical Race Theory”) was instructive because it regurgitated misconceptions/falsehoods/talking points peddled by conservative pundits and Republican politicians regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT). Rather than encourage reasonable and informed discussion, such fabrications are designed to stir resentment, cut off discussion, and advance a political agenda. Yet the letter affords us a chance to (briefly) put forward what CRT is really about.

CRT is more than 40years old, emerging out of a frame work of legal analysis created by a large and varied group of legal scholars. It views ‘race’ not as a fact but instead a social construct from which racism comes forth. As our country/society developed, CRT holds, racism permeated its laws and policies. It says that racism is still an issue in our society today and, rather than ignore it, we need to identify racist influences/policies and work to eradicate them.

What CRT doesn’t do is say ‘white children are bad’ or promote ‘victimhood’. Instead it notes racism cuts across all ethnic groups and, because of its insidious influence during our society’s development, can be unintentional while continuing to perpetuate inequalities in our country.

More controversial are some of the policies advocated by some CRT subscribers intended to rectify lingering inequalities in our society. The debate largely centers around whether ‘racially-centered’ versus ‘racially-blind’ policies are more just/effective. These are currently being vigorously debated as they should be. 

In regards to schools, CRT looks to create a classroom atmosphere in which students of any ‘race’ can be comfortable and successful. CRT promotes teaching an honest version of the extent slavery and racist policies (i.e. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) play in our country’s history and how the effects are still with us today. Teaching accurate, clear-eyed (not glossed-over) accounts of some of the less savory aspects of our country’s  history isn’t divisive but ensures that we learn from it, are on the guard against the influence of racism, and work together to produce a more just and equitable society.  

Ken Vaselaar

Cambridge

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