Critical Race Theory and Black History Month
by Doyle Ranstrom on Feb 7, 2022
Some parents, politicians and political shows are concerned about critical race theory [CRT] being taught in public school as early as kindergarten. This is interesting because there is no record of it being taught anywhere in the public system at any level. CRT is an academic theory taught at the undergraduate and graduate level. One way of describing CRT is it an academic discussion of institutional racism embedded in government agencies.
For example, in his book, "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America" by Richard Rothstein, Rothstein talks about "redlining". Redlining was initiated in the 1930s and used by Federal Agencies including Federal Housing Administration [FHA]. Redlining were color coded maps of every metropolitan area in the country designed to indicate where it was safe to insure mortgages. Anywhere where African-Americans lived were colored red to indicate to appraisers that these neighborhoods were too risky to insure mortgages. Neighborhoods and developments of white working families were coded differently giving them with access to credit so they could buy homes. African-American working families not having access to credit were not able to participate in the American dream, owning one's own home.
The Underwriting Manual of the FHA, stated that "incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities." This meant loans to African-Americans could not be insured. In Detroit in the 1940s, a developer could not get a project approved until he built a six-foot wall between his proposed development for white families and nearby African-American families.
CRT does not mean individuals or groups are racists, though obviously some are. What it means, in this example, is working African-American families not having the same access to credit as white families and this has had an ongoing rippling affect leading to today's disparity of wealth between Blacks as a group and Whites as a group.
So why are some people upset about something that is not being taught in public when until a few months ago, that they could not have picked out the definition of Critical Race Theory in a multiple choice question even if the only possible answer listed was A. I suspect there several reasons.
- One is I suspect they are afraid. Of course, African-Americans who were forcefully abducted from their homes in Africa, survived a brutal trip in slave ships, and then were sold into slavery upon arriving in North America were also afraid. 1619 was the year the first slave ship arrived from Africa and was the beginning of slavery as part of the colonies and then United States. "1619" is also the name of an first article published by the NY Times in 2019. "1619" then became a book published in 2021 and soon is to be a documentary. If you are concerned about 1619, read the article, read the book, watch the documentary, but never ever learn about it from talk radio or cable news.
- Two, I suspect some people are worried about there children. African American slaves who were also mothers and fathers worried about their children who were born into slavery, would be forced to work all day long and could be sold at any time to another owner, so there is that.
- Three, and I suspect some of these white protestors of CRT are fearful. Black Americans understand fear. In 1867 Congress passed the Reconstruction Act which required former Confederate states to provide universal voting rights for all men. Because of this, black men in the South voted for the first time, and Black politicians soon held large shares of legislative seats in South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida. The KKK responded with ongoing violent intimidation of Black Americans in including lynchings specifically meant to deter voting One study found that the KKK killed more than 2,000 Black people in 1868 in Louisiana alone. Overall, from the early 1880s into the 1930s thousands of Black Americans were lynched. Two of the results of this were voter suppression of Black Americans and distrust of the justice system as there were very few if any white men doing the lynching were criminally prosecuted. A recent study found that counties which were in the top quartile of lynchings have lower voter registration today then counties which were in the bottom quarter which is indicative of the ongoing affect of the violence against Black Americans..
- All of the above is summarized in a August, 2021 article published in The Journalists Resource which is part of the Harvard Kennedy School.
The controversy regarding CRT, coming from individuals, politicians, and/or political talk shows is inspired by a combination of ignorance and racism. February is Black History Month. If you are concerned about racism in America, learn about the history of racism and slavery starting with 1619. If you want to act agains racism, use your vote and pocketbook to fight against states which are passing voting laws primarily making it more difficult for people of color.
One last thing, today's children are no more responsible for the history of slavery and racism in our country then I am responsible for the people who look like me, but spew an evil false narrative on racism and promote white Nationalism. I am firmly convinced the key to our social and economic future is equality, diversity and education.