Barth Keck: Critical Race Theory: A Case Study in Appropriation
Barth Keck has taught high school English for thirty years. He’s based in Connec ticut, where he penned this op-ed for the CT News Junkie. Here he offers some thoughts about the hijacking of the term “critical race theory.”
Recently, “Critical Race Theory” has been appropriated by “activists and parents [who] have begun using it as a catch-all term to refer to what [K-12] schools often call equity programs, teaching about racism or LGBTQ-inclusive policies,” according to an NBC News analysis. “The groups swarm school board meetings, inundate districts with time-consuming public records requests and file lawsuits and federal complaints alleging discrimination against white students.”
Connecticut communities have not been spared. A Greenwich Board of Education meeting on June 17 was besieged by CRT opponents like Jackie Homan, who said, “Critical Race Theory says my children were born racist simply because they were born white. How can that be? When are we going to get back to academics instead of activism?”
Guilford was the site one week later of a “forum attended by about 100 people sponsored by a national group called No Left Turn in Education, which argues that an anti-white, radical leftist agenda is being used by public schools to indoctrinate students.”
For his part, Guilford Superintendent of Schools Paul Freeman has explained that while CRT is not part of the district curriculum, students do discuss issues of race: “We are not teaching white children that they are racist or bad or need to feel guilt. We are trying to help all of our kids be able to talk about race, like everything else, in a healthy, open way.”
These opponents of … what? Diversity? Open discussion of racism? An accurate study of American history? Well, these opponents have successfully hijacked the term “Critical Race Theory” and weaponized it. The appropriation is complete.