August 31, 2021

W.F. Jeffers III: Critical race theory bill is a fabricated crisis

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W.F. “Tripp” Jeffers III is a history and philosophy teacher in Winston-Salem. In an op-ed, he shares his view on the anti-CRT bill in North Carolina.

HB 324, which would outlaw the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in North Carolina public schools, is the latest red herring of a GOP legislature, buttressed by our lieutenant governor’s anti-educator rhetoric and seemingly obsessed with conspiracies of classroom indoctrination. It’s become their white whale, their windmill, their Trojan horse; but the bill is a solution without a problem, based on an entirely fabricated crisis.

In the subsequent clamor, certain parents are up in arms, some of whom ranted and jeered at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 24, operating under the ridiculous assumption that their children are somehow being taught to hate white people, hate America and hate themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.

CRT is frankly a legitimate, but somewhat obscure, legal and literary analytical lens alongside myriad others (Marxist, Jungian, Keynesian, Freudian, Darwinian) utilized by institutions of higher learning. I can guarantee with reasonable certainty that 99% of those who are currently railing against it could not define CRT without having first typed it into Google, because they had never heard of it prior to this summer. As such, in almost three decades as an educator, I have not and do not “teach” critical race theory, and I know of no Tarheel teacher who does. It’s not part of the curriculum, old or new, formal or informal.

do, however, teach “critical thinking” theory, which I hope every parent would wish for their children. I ask my students to examine history from multiple angles and through multiple lenses: political lenses, social lenses, economic lenses, religious lenses, and yes, racial lenses. In the examination of patterns in history, it’s imperative to hold it up to the most reflective mirror and shine on it the brightest light, revealing both its beauty and its blemishes.

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