Parents, You Think You Know Critical Race Theory But You Have No Idea

To the white parents complaining about critical race theory, can we please stop with the reverse racism bullshit and dead the false narrative that the theory is currently being taught in our schools?  

These claims are blasphemous, unsubstantiated, and show just how misinformed you are about the theory. If you had ever seen, touched, or read any actual critical race theory texts, you would know that this concept is primarily reserved for graduate-level students. If you ask experts in critical race theory, they will tell you that it requires years of extensive study to fully grasp the concept.  

If that’s the case, then how in your right mind can you imagine that anyone thinks this theory is even developmentally appropriate for K-12 children to learn? 

Speaking as a veteran classroom teacher with 15 years of experience, I have never come across any K-12 curriculum that calls for the explicit teaching of critical race theory. It does not exist—it never has! Search if you want, but I promise that you won’t find anything.  

To be clear, critical race theory is not interchangeable with the 1619 ProjectLearning for Justice, the Zinn Education Project, or any other educational platforms that reveal the full truth about the Black experience in American society.  

However, critical race theory does provide much-needed context and justifies why Black history, as well as the experiences of other historically marginalized groups in America, should be taught extensively in our schools. It also provides context for the discriminatory policies that continue to disenfranchise Black students. By denouncing this theory, you are also disregarding the intersectional struggles and realities of Black folx in America. A major component of critical race theory, intersectionality, speaks to the complexities of culture and why Black folx need navigational capital to survive in a world that still is struggling to recognize, honor, and protect their humanity.

To the Black Republican and conservative parents who are jumping on the anti-critical race theory bandwagon, please don’t take it the wrong way, but I have to say this with love. It’s time for y’all to wake the fuck up!  

You need to realize that critical race theory is the framework you need to address your internalized racism. No matter how much you ingratiate yourself with white folx or align yourself with the ideals of whiteness that govern our society, the reality is you’re still Black, just like me. I’m Black. You’re Black. We’re all Black. If you haven’t already noticed, racism doesn’t give a fuck about political affiliation or the number of degrees we hold. It’s the America that we’ve always lived in, and it’s the America that our children need to know about.

Whether we raise our children in the ‘hood or in the suburbs, our children will encounter racism at some one point in their lives. It’s really just a matter of when and how. Therefore, at the very least, we have to be on the same page about fighting for a world where Black lives are just as valuable and matter just as much as White lives; where Black excellence is celebrated and not suppressed; where Black genius is the norm and not the outlier; where Blackness is warmly embraced and not just tolerated.

That’s the vision we must desire for our children. But the reality is, it’s not going to happen overnight, so we must continue to serve as the main motivators, nurturers and protectors of our children’s souls. We have to continue to breathe life into our children and endlessly preach self-love and Black pride so that they are equipped with the power and self-efficacy to withstand any form of racial hate they experience in their schools.  

As has been proven time and time again, leaving it up to our K-12 school system to do this important work will simply lead to more disappointment. The fact that white parents, in some states, can opt their children out of lessons focused on Black history is all you need to know about white supremacy culture within our education system. White parents robbing their children of this learning opportunity prioritizes white comfort and shows a blatant lack of compassion for Black students who are still fighting to matter in their schools.

Unfortunately, our children can’t opt-out of the whitewashed curricula they are force-fed in school everyday or the American pledge that attempts to camouflage the insidious racism that continues to subjugate them. How can they truly evade racism when it is coming at them from different angles and presenting itself in various forms? 

My desire for my 3-year old son to be fully recognized as human and, one day, to be in a school where his Blackness is celebrated, honored, affirmed, and protected should not come as a threat to white parents or students. Why is it such a crime for my son and other Black children to learn about the greatness and resilience of their heroes in school?  Why should my son not have the right to know the truth about America, which was built off the blood, sweat, and tears of his enslaved African ancestors?

Finally, for those folx who continue to ask me why critical race theory is necessary, the answer is really simple. For our Black and brown students, their internalized racism is the greatest cause of their imposter syndrome. It’s what forces so many of them to not be 100% of who they are every time they enter their schools.  

Our children don’t come out of the womb with feelings of self-hate. Rather, they enter a world where the dominant culture teaches them exactly how to feel that way.  Critical race theory may be the topic of conversation right now, but that’s not where the true beef lies for white parents.  This is all about maintaining control of the narrative and preserving the “natural order” of the world at all costs. If that isn’t indoctrination, then I don’t know what is. 

This post originally appeared on Citizen Education.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah is the founder of Identity Talk Consulting, LLC., an independent educational consulting firm that provides professional development and consulting services globally to educators who desire to enhance their instructional practices and reach their utmost potential in the classroom. He is the author of two books, "Shaping the Teacher Identity: 8 Lessons That Will Help Define the ...

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