Does the CRT make white students feel bad? Try to be a black student

Patrick remembers the horror he felt as a little kid entering a suburban school district. He took the bus to school at the start of the school year with an armed law enforcement officer standing near his seat. He often fixed the firearm in the officer’s holster.

Through his window, Patrick saw crowds of angry faces, signs declaring the school a “white” school, and even a black doll hanging in an effigy. He and the other bus users entered the school through the cafeteria behind the school.

No one had asked about his feelings until I did. I then worked for the Louisville Courier-Journal. I interviewed him for a newspaper article.

By then he had become a man, but those freezing morning bus rides still echoed in his guts.

Much of the ever-evolving debate over critical race theory – a term for a body of academic work not taught in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12 – centers on the feelings of white students. We rarely seem concerned with how black students felt in public schools.

In October, for example, a report said Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, questioned whether the CRT was leading young white college students to feel unnecessary shame.

“If you are faced with the fact that you, because of the color of your skin, are a racist, it can be a manifestation of shame,” Williams said.

Let’s talk about shame.

Before Patrick, I met Percy, a quiet college boy. Percy’s teacher tormented him regularly, calling him “Darkman” or “Darth Vader”. Percy wouldn’t retaliate. He lowered his head and cried.

School terrified Percy. His grades plummeted. His mother sued, but Percy likely has similar traumatic memories in his guts.

Compare that with the high school student in Virginia who complained about “night terrors” after reading “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, a book that tries to teach us how to cope with a difficult past.

Several black men, now in their sixties, told me how white high school coaches told them they were good enough to start on their sports teams, but there were already too many black players so they weren’t there. would not make the team.

A white 1960s coach, who challenged five black basketball players, said officials told him to only play two black players at home, three on the road and five in the back. Sport has opened the doors to higher education and possible careers. Imagine the systemic thefts that so many young black men have endured.

Much of the ever-evolving debate over critical race theory … centers the feelings of white college students. We rarely seem concerned with how black students felt in public schools.

It is not all in the past.

Officials at my 19-year-old son’s former school had no problem getting him and the rest of the football team to play in a town where Confederate battle flags were fluttering in the stands.

But a white child in Virginia had a nightmare, so now the nation must reinvent the programs.

This centering of the feelings of white students is the very definition of systemic racism. Where were all those “benefactors,” now suddenly preoccupied with the feelings of students, as white adults terrorized black children like Patrick and Percy?

I once interviewed Earnest Gaines, author of classics such as “A Gathering of Old Men” and “A Lesson Before Dying”. We spoke as progressives wrongly, but we managed to remove the literary classic “Huckleberry Finn”, by the incomparable Mark Twain, from widespread study.

Why? The N word has appeared about 200 times in the book.

We should keep politicians out of the classroom. Gaines disagreed with the book’s withdrawal. I did it too.

I had learned that despite this horrible word, Huck Finn was critical of racism. Few white figures had much redeeming value. Twain described Huck’s abusive father this way:

“There is no color on her face, where her face used to be; it was white; not like another man’s white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to make the flesh of a body crawl – the white of a toad, the belly of a white fish.

Feelings are important, but learning what lies beneath those feelings is crucial.

I would have been uncomfortable to hear that word come out of the mouths of teachers and classmates. But exploring the societal cruelties of racism through Twain, Huck and Jim, along with these classmates, would have been more important.

Teachers who teach 7 year olds that they are “oppressors” or “victims” are doing it wrong. Race is complex, and few Americans truly understand our racial history. I also concede that some of this content is probably not intended for young children.

We need honesty in education. Administrators and lawmakers taking action based on the fears of the white majority, regardless of its impact on black children, are failing all children. We need to look at the full scope of the systems that created the wide array of racial wounds in the first place.

Or we will never find relief from the age-old calculations that still resonate in our collective guts.

About Leslie Schwartz

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