First let me acknowledge that this post comes entirely inspired by this morning’s Anti-Racism Daily email. If you don’t already subscribe to their Patreon, I highly recommend doing so. This morning’s email is all about advocating for critical race theory to be taught in schools. Something I strongly support.
What is Critical Race Theory? is an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. If you have yet to learn about or read the 1619 project, I suggest starting there.
What struck me the most about reading today’s email is the fact that what those who oppose most about teaching critical race theory espouse is that by teaching by it, it would in fact promote racism.
Haven’t we been here before? I can remember growing up in the 90’s and hearing the grownups debate safe sex education. Having a mom who was a nurse and worked with young moms and growing up going to Catholic Church and Sunday school, I heard both sides. My mom always advocated that talking about sex was an important and key component to actually practicing it safely. It is how we empower young adults to make smarter and more educated choices, including abstinence. On the other hand, I would also hear the whispers around me about how teaching sex education could potentially empower young adults to actually then go and have sex. And even though the statistics showed that talking about sex actually did lead to safer practices and less unwanted teen pregnancies and lower STD infection rates, still they carried on. Even at that young age I recognized that it wasn’t actually that they didn’t want safer sex, but it was their own discomfort around even having the conversation that led the movement. It was the patriarchal and puritan culture at work.
So here we are today, facing the exact same argument but in a different subject, though most of the motives remain the same. Those of us who advocate for talking about race with our children, specifically how it relates to our country’s mindset, know that this is vital if we are going to actually dismantle racism and white supremacy in America. Talking about race does not make one racist (spoiler alert: we likely already are if we grew up in America, even without talking about it). It provides our children (and ourselves) with an educated point of view that will lead them down the path of empathy and actual progression. This old and tired argument that not talking about something in order to “keep the peace” is a tool for suppression. It also tends to have the exact opposite effect. A study at the University of Washington found that adolescents who received comprehensive sex education are significantly less likely to become pregnant than adolescent who recieved abstinence only or no formal sex education. A similar outcome can occur when choosing to deliberately not talk to our children about race. This article from National Geographic perfectly highlights the benefits of talking to our children about race and gives some excellent insight from generous leaders such as Ibram X. Kendi author of How to be an Anti-Racist and executive director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.
I do think it’s incredibly important however to highlight one crucial difference here however: no one is losing their life because of the refusal to talk about sex. New lives may be coming into the world, but that is not the same as the violence, hate and death that Black people are facing in this country. I want to make sure that I make that distinction because it is what makes talking about race and offering critical race theory education in our schools even more vital. And I want to say something that may offend some, but a cold hard truth is that not wanting to educate our children on race, does make you racist. I recently saw a video where a woman was crying to a school board saying “just because I do not want critical race theory taught to my children in school, does not mean that I am a racist damnit”. I am sorry to tell you this, but it does. If you are not racist then you wouldn’t be bothered one bit by this crucial and very real part of our history being taught to our children. You certainly wouldn’t be drawn to tears. And I do not say this to demonize or ostracize, but only to point out that when we staunchly oppose education that would progress a movement that likely has little to no effect on us personally, we are coming from a place of internal reckoning and fear with something that is deeply unresolved. Racism is deeply unresolved in many of us because we haven’t been given the time, space and light of day to actually deal with it. Hence why education on the subject for our children would not only benefit them, but subsequently the generations that follow. And perhaps, should we be the kind of parents to dare to learn from our children, we may even learn something ourselves in the process.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.