Opinion: Critical Race Theory should be taught

The latest outrage to plague the minds of Fox News viewers across the country, Critical Race Theory has been discussed and debated everywhere from school board meetings to over dinner with family. 

The question is, what actually is Critical Race Theory? 

Britannica says that CRT was first discussed in 1989, but the origins go back to the 1960s and 70s. The theory states laws and legal institutions in the United States maintain inequities between white and non white people. 

One side believes that CRT should be taught, mainly in higher education institutions. The other side believes that CRT is harmful and divisive. Is CRT accurate, do past policies and laws have a lasting impact on today’s society? What hasn’t come up often in the debate is that these policies and laws are not that far in the past. 

Redlining was outlawed under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, 53 years ago. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, 57 years ago. Minimum sentencing and other staples of the war on drugs continue to exist today. 

A study done by Brown University found that redlining had a lasting impact on education. Students who live in redlined districts have worse average test scores than other districts. Homeownership is a way to build wealth. According to the Washington Post, 75% of redlined districts still struggle economically. Studies, such as this one from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, have also found that people in redlined districts are born with a lower life expectancy. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Black Americans make up 38.2% of federal prisoners, despite only being 13.4% of the population. Part of the war on drugs, mandatory minimum sentencing was passed in 1986 and 1988. Since then, over 260,000 people have received a minimum sentencing for a federal drug charge. Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and nearly 60% in state prison for drug offenses are Black or Latino. One in nine Black children have an incarcerated parent, compared to 1 in 51 White children. 

These are just two examples of the lasting impact racist policies have. These policies did not exist hundreds of years ago. They’re not so far in the past that people have forgotten about them. Our grandparents and parents lived during this time. Our history is our history and to ignore what happened is doing an injustice to all those who fought and continue to fight for equality in this country.

Published by camryncutinello

She/her/hers. Journalism major at Columbia College Chicago. Co-editor-in-chief of the Columbia Chronicle.

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