Activism | September 21st, 2021
Florida Banned CRT. What’s Next?
By: Zion Lampley
Critical race theory, widely known as CRT, has become one of the most divisive and controversial topics in public discourse. With a slew of state legislatures aiming to ban the academic framework, how to educate students on segregation, race relations and this nation’s foundations has created an upheaval within the academic arena. Over the summer, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis moved forward with banning CRT in classrooms, leaving many students and teachers in the state to grapple with the aftermath.
CRT began in the 1970s — a monumental time for the development of Black political thought — by legal scholars and activists as a way of examining laws and structure in the United States through the lens of race. In essence, the theory acknowledged the legacy of slavery, segregation and many other facets of structural racism that was still embedded in modern society. While Black Americans have overcome racial barriers and slowly accessed basic civil rights, CRT centered the critical aspects of that oppressive history that have been silenced for many years.
Along with Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the teachings of CRT in the classroom — vehemently opposing it as “anti-white,” “un-American,” and rebranding the acronym to “creating racial tension.” But critical race theory is more than telling marginalized groups of people that they have and continue to face discriminaion in the United States. Conservatives have protested this progressive approach of teaching students about contemporary issues.
Shantress Allen, a secondary education major at Florida A&M University, believes that removing CRT subsequently removes the integral role of African Americans in American history. “For example, the public face of the women’s suffrage movement during the 19th and 20th century has always been a white woman, but the role Black women and other women of color played during this movement is often forgotten and needs to be taught,” Andrell said. Allowing students to learn information through such a framework isn’t an attack on fundamental rights, but an opportunity to see the indifferences embedded throughout history.
Aja Arrindell, an adjunct professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s STEM program and mother of a now seventh-grader, says that CRT should be re-implemented in the state’s curriculum. Arrindell believes learning such historical truths may not be easy to digest for marginalized communities, but it is necessary. “If you do learn, the reaction to enhancing your understanding may not be a positive response,” Arrindell said. Moreover, the understanding of critical race theory comparably enhances one’s understanding of history.
If critical race theory examines segregation, race relations and this nation’s foundations, would it be unfair to teach students that white people enslaved Blacks based on the color of one’s skin? Is it wrong to teach that collection of state and local statutes legalized racial segregation across the Bible Belt. Today, it is impossible to look beyond the spectrum of race and in doing so only retains the status quo of colorblindness. Allowing the future generation of children to learn historically accurate history is not indoctrination.