Why Idaho’s Critical Race Theory Ban Is Just Another Attempt To Protect White Supremacy

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Idaho Bans Critical Race Theory In Schools And Colleges

Idaho’s state Senate has moved to ban critical race theory in all public schools and universities. 

Proponents of the bill claim critical race theory is “indoctrinating” students by teaching them about the intersection of race and the law. 

Lawmakers voted 28-7 to block critical race theory from the state’s curriculum with the bill now getting fast-tracked by Republican Governor Brad Little, the winning side arguing (incorrectly) that critical race theory puts forward an agenda about racial hierarchy. They say that they want to prohibit teaching that "any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

This misunderstands the purpose and necessity of critical race theory entirely. The truth is, this intellectual movement is simply the examination of how race and racism are socialized. 

Fortunately, students in Idaho have been raising their voices and defiantly protesting the bill, claiming it blocks them from accessing education on race and racism in America.  

What is critical race theory?

In Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s book “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” the critical race theory movement is defined as “a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.”

It is a theory that examines the standards and biases we’ve applied to race and how they impact us both historically and presently.

Critical race theory is a direct challenge to white supremacy in how it rejects the idea that what’s in the past is irrelvant to people's outcomes today.

It acknowledges that many of the laws and systems created in the past are not as detached from historical racism as people would like to believe. 

Here’s a current example. We know that Black people are incarcerated at five times the rate of white people

Taking this statistic on its own, one might think that Black people are simply more predisposed to commit crimes or are more dangerous to society than white people. 

However, when we apply critical race theory, we can examine how historical racism has created a system where Black people face tougher punishments for the same crimes committed by white people. 

Critical race theory is not static and can be interpreted differently from person to person. This makes it a valuable framework for people to build their own, well-informed opinions on race in America

However, it does rely on some key principles. Race is not biologically real; it is socially constructed and maintained, racism is best understood and explained by people of color, and instances of racism are not one-off events, they are part of a wider system. 

The theory, though originally conceived to understand race in American law, is also a jumping-off point for the examination of all other marginalized identities. 

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Why does critical race theory matter? 

Apart from offering a rounded view of American history through the eyes of those who have been historically marginalized, critical race theory supports the building of an anti-racist society

It allows us to stop glossing over the inequalities that people of color face in the U.S. and begin to address where we have been going wrong. 

Critical race theory allows us to examine racial wealth gaps, achievement gaps, and more. Whilst accepting the failings of the past, we can create avenues for a less racially divided future. 

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Why are Republican lawmakers against critical race theory?

Critical race theory forces white people to look at themselves and their ancestors as authors of the problem, which may explain some of the pushback. 

Former president Trump took a similar stance against critical race theory last year when he submitted a directive to ban all federal agencies from providing anti-bias training that relied on critical race theory. 

He claimed that the theory promotes, “very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. And really, they were teaching people to hate our country.” 

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Informing people about the realities of American history is not an attempt to discredit patriotism but rather an opportunity to contextualize it. 

If those who disagree with critical race theory find American history so horrifying to learn, perhaps they should assess why this history is so hard to hear about. 

Trump’s stance was later echoed by a Republican state representative in Louisiana who suggested that we should learn about “the good” of slavery along with the bad parts, before quickly backtracking and clarifying that he didn’t mean to imply there was anything good about slavery. 

Whether or not the statement was a Freudian slip, we do not know, but in restricting the teaching of critical race theory, it's clear that politicians have an agenda to block students’ access to information that might cause them to challenge the status quo on race and racism. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.