Op-ed by Howard Eagle
By now, those of us who call ourselves anti-racist activists and educators should know well that contemporary orchestrators of the tripartite beast and illness of individual, institutional and structural racism are very cunning and elusive. Like past generations, they have perfected the art and science of continuously refashioning the disease into new more slippery, reptilian manifestations which makes it nearly impossible to nail the elusive monster down.
Of course, unlike in the past, today (for the most part) perpetrators are not as openly blatant and are much more concerned about detection than they have been in the past. In fact, calculated orchestration and new manifestations are more sophisticated than ever before, and of course not nearly as detectable as they once were. What’s most amazing is how so many people have been completely accepting of such craftiness for so long.
Well, it’s happening again. Many well-meaning people—liberals in particular—are inadvertently feeding into the perpetuation of a grossly false, super-manipulative, thoroughly deceptive narrative, which completely distorts objective reality regarding the omnipresence of racism (in all forms) but particularly and especially within the institution of public education.
Staunch conservatives have found a new angle to help prop up, reinforce, perpetuate, and maintain white-supremacist-based ideology and realities. And though liberals mean well, they are following the conservatives right down the racist-rabbit-hole by engaging them, or at least attempting to do so, regarding an abstraction that has absolutely NO MERIT.
Yes, I’m referring to the so-called “critical race theory,” particularly as it supposedly relates to public education, which it never did, and still does NOT, and which is why we can declare with complete confidence and authority that it is a false narrative.
Some say the ‘theory’ started in 1989 (presumably because of a series of meetings, beginning in that year, when a group of scholars attempted to ‘operationalize it’). However, the origin dates back to the early 1970’s, and initially focused almost solely on criminal justice issues, as opposed to education, and/or any other field of study.
Let’s be clear. To help perpetuate a ludicrously false narrative (inadvertently or otherwise) by first and foremost, accepting that it exists, is completely backwards, and totally counterproductive (possibly even counter-intuitive).
Indeed, to continue clamoring about “critical race theory” provides racists with the fuel they need to shape and reinforce their false narratives regarding the thoroughly ludicrous idea of so-called “reverse discrimination” and/or so-called “anti-white” pedagogy.
In my humble, but staunch and informed view, we should STOP engaging in the false narrative altogether, and instead, take the position that we are not concerned with “critical race theory.” In fact, we should declare that it has no relevance regarding public education. Instead, we are concerned (exclusively) with simply teaching the full truth about race and racism (just as we do, or at least should do, in every other case), period.
Let them argue among themselves about “critical race theory.” It would be so very interesting to witness racists arguing against teaching the truth, that is, indisputable, factual history. If we control the narrative, that’s exactly what they would have to do. Either that or get back in a corner somewhere out of the way and be quiet.
Educators are the very people in this society who are most likely to have the greatest impact relative to aiding in the deconstruction of racism—as opposed to (even inadvertently) helping to prop it up or perpetuate and maintain it.
Therefore, if educators really are committed to mastering their craft, they are obligated to KNOW and teach the objective, factual truth.
Howard Eagle is a longtime educator and local anti-racism advocate, known for his campaigns for the Rochester school board and prolific political and social commentary. Eagle taught social studies in the RCSD for 23 years, before retiring in 2010, and is now an adjunct professor in the Department of African American Studies at SUNY Brockport.
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)