The Columbus Dispatch

‘Race’ debate an attempt to maintain racism

- Your Turn Ray Marcano

The manufactur­ed critical race theory controvers­y isn’t about what we teach our children because we’ve never taught that (and shouldn’t) on the K-12 level.

It’s about something far more sinister —- an attempt to maintain systemic racism.

Republican­s — far better at manipulati­on and message than Democrats — have morphed the CRT debate into what schoolchil­dren should learn about race. We know, throughout the country, that parents now demand teachers gloss over our racist past, like slavery, the trail of tears, or Japanese internment camps during WWII.

They don’t want schools to address issues of race because, they say, they don’t want their children to feel bad or guilty because of their white skin. On that front, they are correct. No one should feel bad because of skin color though, in this society, not everyone gets that same benefit.

But we should also acknowledg­e that by every objective measure, whites still have advantages that people of color can only dream of.

Those facts and knowledge are part of educating our students. Facts are not a part of some anti-white crusade.

Conservati­ves want to gloss over those facts.

Teaching the truth exposes how we still grapple with racial issues, raises hard questions about the present and whether America can succeed as a multi-racial democracy in the future.

Twisting or ignoring history to fit your narrative is nothing short of shameful. But in this case, there are some that want to twist the narrative to maintain the status quo.

If educators can’t teach about racism and the continued effects today, then the ills that still inflict a large part of the Black and brown population­s become “their” fault. “They” can’t get a job? It’s their fault because students won’t know that people with Black-sounding names are less likely to get a job interview than their white counterpar­ts.

If Blacks have low net worth, it’s “their” fault because students won’t know that the federal government in effect shut out Black servicemen from getting home loans through the GI Bill following WWII, and home equity is the largest source of wealth in America.

When Blacks were lynched, it must have been because they did something wrong, not because they just happened to be darker than other people, because jeez, we’re not taught that happened.

If you obscure the past, you get the status quo, one that continues to act as an anvil around the shoulders of people of color.

The effort to stop teaching about race closely tracks the attitudes of Americans.

It is true that a majority of Americans believe educators should teach race in schools, including strong majorities of Republican­s and Democrats, according to a Monmouth University poll.

But how you teach about race is an issue. While Black people see racism as systemic, White people see racism as behavior-based, according to an NBC News/wall Street Journal poll. You can hear the voices: See, it’s not “us;” it’s “them” because of “their” bad behavior. And if it’s “them,” there’s no need to talk about race in schools. Once “they” clean up their behavior, the problem will disappear.

That’s the endgame — creating the lie that everything is equal in an unequal world so that one group of people can maintain the advantages they already have.

Wake up, people.

Ray Marcano is a longtime journalist whose columns occasional­ly appear in The Dispatch. He can be reached at raymarcano­

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