Letter: Ban lies not CRT – Basic facts to counter fear mongering
To the editor,
There are so many things that the Paso Robles School District could be concentrating their time on. However, what seems to be their biggest concentration is CRT, Critical Race Theory, something that has been around since the 70s (as a college-level course), but only recently became a right-wing talking point to ban it.
CRT never was a part of the curriculum in our district nor would it ever have been. The students are asking to be listened to about the racism, homophobia, and bullying in the school district. The families are asking for teachers to be paid what they are worth, transportation, and no schools to be closed. CRT is a non-issue and is only brought up to be political and divisive.
I reached out to Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick, MA, PhD, ethnic studies faculty lead at Cuesta College and co-founder and consultant of QueerProfs, for clarification and to finally put to rest the lies being perpetrated to only stoke fear within our school district. My hope is that by the end of this you will see, CRT is not and never was an issue. The true issue in Paso Robles School District is the people in power not listening to different viewpoints other than their own.
Dr. Espinoza-Kulick writes:
This article is to provide clarification as to why Critical Race Theory is not racist nor divisive and not something to be feared.
Communities in Paso Robles have drawn attention to the various issues facing our community and challenged us to ask the hard questions: how can we best address the needs of our community? And, how can we support and uplift those who are facing disadvantages and injustice? Unfortunately, the Republican Party’s favorite bogeyman, “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) has been dragged out to stoke fear and racial tension and prevent honest, open, and critical dialogue within our communities.
Critical Race Theory is an advanced legal framework that is meant to be understood and discussed in context. It broaches complicated and difficult topics that warrant a nuanced conversation. When taken out of context, soundbites from CRT scholars and their allies can be manipulated to sound antagonistic or simplistic. In reality, the basic premise of CRT is a commitment to recognizing that laws and policies can contribute to racial inequities, and it is imperative to be aware of these issues in order to work against them.
- “Racism is ordinary” means that racism exists within the routine activities of day-to-day life. It does not mean that everyone is acting out of racist malice all of the time. It means that we live in a society where structures and institutions are designed so that people of color will not receive the same benefits and protections as their white peers.
- CRT identifies that structural racism exists, acknowledging that racial biases can be carried out without any conscious intention.
- People of color (those who occupy a minority status when it comes to race) do not claim to be the sole authorities on the topic of race and racism. Critical Race Theory argues that people of color’s voices have been systematically excluded from public spaces (for example, by the requirement to only speak in English) and need to be heard, respected, and acted upon.
- When scholars indicate that racism is inherent or fundamental to the experiences of white people in the United States, they are not endorsing that all white people hold bigoted views of people of color. Researchers have identified that white people benefit from the unearned advantages associated with having white skin, as a result of historical and ongoing discrimination against people of color. Racist discrimination in immigration policy restricted authorized migration and citizenship to “free white persons” and of “good moral character” in the United States Naturalization Law of 1790. This created what W. E. B. DuBois calls the “public and psychological wages of whiteness”. Racist discrimination in housing and mortgages means that people of color are less likely to have real estate that is passed down in their families. This does not mean that no people of color own houses, or that owning a house makes one a racist. It is crucial to understand that racism is a system of power relations, not an individual character flaw.
- Antiracism is a commitment to ending racism. When authors like Ibram X. Kendi advocate for antiracist discrimination, they are calling on us to discriminate (in the sense of the word meaning, to distinguish) between those actions that have the effect of increasing racial inequities and those that can decrease racial inequities.
- Critical, honest, and open discussions about race and racism are the only way for the next generation to improve on the issues that face our communities today. Neutrality is not an option in the face of systemic racism.
Spanish and other languages at the board meeting or in other public spaces
- Spanish is the language spoken by over one-quarter of people in the Paso Robles community (25.9%) (City Data)
- The Paso Robles Daily News has the option to translate the entire website on its main page. Clearly, providing the opportunity to communicate in Spanish is a benefit to the community.
- Public comments are an opportunity to share knowledge with all present and those watching.
- High-quality interpreters are needed to ensure transparency and accurate information is shared with community members and stakeholders.
- While the law states that English is the official language of the state of California, that does not mean it is ethically correct, or an accurate representation of our communities. Across the state of California, 44.6% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, with the largest group (28.8%) being Spanish speakers. (US Census Data on non-English speakers by state, US Census Data on languages spoken in California, and US Census Data on language use in general)
- If we study actual Critical Race Theory, we know that laws contribute to discrimination and inequity and they must be evaluated in terms of their validity and effectiveness, not just their existence.
- We call on the school board and all elected representatives serving the Paso Robles community to make a statement against English as the official language of the state of California. Many states and territories maintain no official language (19 states and D.C.), while others acknowledge multiple official languages (3 states and 4 territories), like Puerto Rico that officially uses both English and Spanish. (Wikipedia)
As you can see by Dr. Espinoza-Kulick’s thorough explanation, CRT has been blown way out of proportion by political talking heads with an agenda. As a mother in the Paso Robles School District, my children have already been negatively affected by this ban. Banning CRT is nothing but a modern-day witch hunt of teachers.
I hope the board removes the un-needed and unwanted ban and starts concentrating on listening to the voices that they have systematically oppressed. As Martin Luthor King Jr. Once said, “The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to a fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately, this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”
It is time for our comfortable vanity to end, we must start to listen to the minority voices within our community. Diversity is important.
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