I am not a parent, but I have been a child, and I have friends who are parents, and I know for sure that no parent really knows what they are doing, and that the job is hard. Covid made the job harder, and I have so much empathy for the added stress that parents are facing in this moment. But there’s something disturbing happening with parenting in this country. Many white parents are losing their ever-loving minds over “Critical Race Theory,” something that many of them cannot define.
I’ll share a partial definition from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which I find to be a credible source on the matter. C.R.T. is “an academic and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is part of American society,” and critically (see what I did there?), that racism isn’t merely a matter of individual actions and biases but something deliberately embedded in our legal, economic, and social systems. Many of the disparate outcomes we see in health, wealth, and justice are the result of that system’s design, the one that made it hard for Black people to build wealth through homeownership by, for example, systematically denying home loans to us for generations—a fact so egregious that the Fair Housing Act had to be created to correct it, in 1968, and one that remains still unresolved.
C.R.T. is academic jargon. It’s not used in everyday conversations by anyone I know involved in bending the arc of this nation toward liberty and justice for all. It’s certainly not taught in K-12 schools. But it’s become a catch-all phrase that serves as mind-numbing kryptonite for a lot of white parents who project their fears of what any acknowledgement of racism might mean for their worldview. While some parents understand that an honest teaching of history requires us to explain our failures alongside our victories, another group refuses to face those facts and chooses to interpret C.R.T. as something more like “catastrophic racial tyranny.”