To the editor:
Everywhere I go, I see warnings about the dangers of Critical Race Theory (CRT). It comes in letters to this editor. A campaign for School Board. Local Facebook groups. Area politicians insist that time is running out before our children are “indoctrinated.”
Breathe in. Breathe out. To those who still have a willing ear, I assure you: CRT is not teaching our children to feel guilty for being white. It’s not even being taught in our schools, as it is a graduate-level lens through which to examine our nation’s history. But such corrections of the record seem no more helpful than yelling into the void. So, another option.
As clergy, I am trained to listen to what might be underneath the energy. Where it concerns race, I believe that most white Americans like me have grasped, even in the midst of our selective history educations, that white Americans have been poor neighbors to people of color. Most of us learned about slavery and Jim Crow. Most of us, I believe, are capable of watching the video of George Floyd’s death and recognizing that it isn’t a one-off. Perhaps we feel ashamed? We know the ripples of racism continue to radiate, but we don’t want to be called racists. We know something must be done, but we don’t know what. We struggle to reconcile our inherited conviction that America is a land of freedom with our subconscious awareness that America’s freedom is inconsistently enjoyed.
CRT has become a catch-all for the shame we do not wish to face. To acknowledge that field of study is to admit America’s ongoing challenges. It means recognizing the need for equity programs, antiracism efforts and diversity trainings. But there is no shame in admitting we need help; we teach our kids to do that without controversy, because we do need help. We need help to face our troubled past and present, that they may not trouble our future. Learning to be a good human requires that we honestly face the less-good. It’s scary, but that’s okay. Let’s face it together.