(WGHP) — Critical Race Theory has become a major talking point, and point of division, over the last few months. But most people don’t know what it really is. FOX8 talked to some educators about what it is, and just as importantly, what it’s not.
“It emerged in the 1980s and the central premises or pillars of Critical Race Theory are that racism permeates structures within America, whether it be legal, educational, religious, business,” Wake Forest University School of Law professor Gregory Parks said.
In a nutshell, Parks explained, Critical Race Theory (CRT) suggests racism is part of everyday life, so people who may not intend to be racist can still make choices that fuel racism. He’s studied it for years and has taught it to law students at Wake.
“The way in which race influences law and public policy is a component of Critical Race Theory,” he said. “Critical Race Theory isn’t about what’s pitting Blacks against whites. And Critical Race Theory, I think, is not a concept that would pit Blacks against whites. Lack of honest dialogue about racial dynamics in America is a thing that creates some of that conflict.”
A lot of parents are concerned that schools will use it to indoctrinate kids. Stokes County Schools superintendent Dr. Brad Rice says while he’s no expert in CRT, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“They have heard the perception that there is white shaming or kids are born racist if they’re white,” he said. “And that is what the parents that have contacted me have asked: are we going to be shaming white children in Stokes County? Absolutely not. We’re going to teach history.”
Rice says he’s heard the concern and he’s taken heat from people on both sides of the Critical Race Theory debate. He says his agenda is simple: teach the kids and let them make up their own minds. For information’s sake, Critical Race Theory is not even on the agenda in Stokes County or any other public schools in North Carolina.
“It has not come up as anything that we’re pursuing,” Rice said. “Also, I’ve never told teachers not to teach portions of history. That is the other side’s concern, that if you’re not a critical race theorist that you’re whitewashing history and hiding those things. Absolutely not. We’re not taking anything out of the curriculum. We are not hiding certain parts of history.”
He says as they learn more about history, they teach it.
“When I went to school, I’d never heard about the Green Book. I heard about it about two years ago. And since then, I keep a copy on my desk because I want to think that if this book were necessary today, Stokes County Schools would be in it.”
Parks cautions against using Critical Race Theory as a catch-all phrase for teaching about race and how it’s part of our country’s history.
“Simply talking about systemic racism is not teaching Critical Race Theory,” he said. “To talk about systemic racism is simply talking about systemic racism.”
To be clear, there is no plan to teach it in any public schools in North Carolina.
“I want our kids to be in a safe and nurturing place regardless of their color, background, what their parents did, grandparents did, or great great great grandparents did — that they are in a safe place to receive an education in Stokes County Schools. And I stand by that statement,” Rice said.
Lawmakers in 26 states, including North Carolina, have introduced bills or taken some steps to restrict teaching CRT or limit how teachers can talk about racism. The effort here is House Bill 324. It’s already passed the House. FOX8 reached out to the four sponsors (Reps. James Boles, Jason Saine, John Torbett, and Larry Yarborough) to talk about their bill for this story. None of them responded to our request. The invitation remains open.