Guest editorial: Children should be taught about nation’s past, not shielded from it |

Guest editorial: Children should be taught about nation’s past, not shielded from it

Katie Bernhard
Park City

The Summit County GOP Chair’s Guest Editorial, “Critical Race Theory is an existential threat” raises many concerns – not only for the broader pursuit of equality and equity in Utah, but also the consistent application of logic in the philosophical foundation of their position.

In roughly 650 words, the Guest Editorial presents a one-sided view that fails to acknowledge that Critical Race Theory is one component of over 40 years of rich academic research and scholarly discourse. Yes, elements of CRT are traced to postmodern philosophical tradition. However, CRT has a concrete foundation in research identifying driving forces behind social issues, by scholars studying complex relationships between race, class, and gender-based differences (Delgado and Stefancic, 2001; Schneider, 2004).

For an argument based on the premise that CRT is rooted in subjectivity and false “truths,” it is unfortunate that neither data nor empirical evidence were assessed regarding the subject matter. Concrete evidence supporting the prevalence of systemic and institutional racism in the United States undermines the author’s argument that these differences are merely subjective lived experience. For example, redlining policies (whereby residents of certain “racially associated” neighborhoods were explicitly and systematically denied services, and which were in place up to legislative action in the 1970s) have been empirically linked to poorer health and economic outcomes in the predominantly Black neighborhoods where these policies were applied (Nardone, Chiang, and Corburn, 2020). Further, rigorous analysis of data such as the Mapping Police Violence database, which contains data for over 9,000 killings by police nationwide since 2013, yields that Black Americans are disproportionately killed by police even when considering city and neighborhood crime rates, criminal history, and other factors.

In casting aside empirical evidence of systemic and institutional racism against Black Americans in favor of a “straw man” critique of postmodern thought, the author disregards experiences of millions of Americans in precisely the same way he feels that his own lived experience has been disregarded, as expressed in the Guest Editorial. The Guest Editorial argues that those who “teach the racism of CRT in our schools” should be defeated. On the contrary, I submit that failure to educate students on the ways anti-Black racism and historical roots of slavery and colonialism have shaped our economic, political, and social systems into the present day will only allow systemic and institutional racism to continue unabated.

Shouldn’t kids in Utah be educated about the history and policies that have shaped and continue to shape our nation, and shouldn’t they be provided the opportunity to form their own opinions based on exposure to data, empirical evidence, and different perspectives?

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