Letter to the Editor: Roots of Critical Race Theory Show Reason for Caution

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The Nov. 2 edition of The Chronicle included a letter to the editor by Nicholas Cook of Chehalis which stated, “the crusade against critical race theory is a fascist knee-jerk reaction … to suppress honest public discourse about systemic racism and preserve the story of America that white Americans want to hear.”

When the topic became heated and COVID provided me more time, I began reading the books of prominent critical race theory proponents. Ibram X. Kendi, a New York Times bestselling author, is on the Time Magazine list of 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and is the director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Here is some of what I found in two of his books. Early in Stamped (For Kids), a book aimed at middle school students, he states, “America welcomed slavery with open arms and used it to build this country.” Then, on page 21, he carries that theme forward: “With slavery done away with in Britain and with Britain in control of America, it made sense that the British government might soon outlaw slavery in the American colonies.”

In the 1700s, slavery existed on every inhabited continent. At the time of the American Revolution in 1776, few believed that would change. Britain didn’t outlaw slavery until 1833.  By that time, many American states had outlawed slavery, so his premise is factually incorrect, but Kendi presses on. “And in order for White Americans to feel comfortable with continuing slavery, they had to break free of Britain once and for all,” he wrote on page 22.

Kendi argues that America was built on slavery, but to repeat, slavery was legal in Britain and its colonies at the time of the American Revolution and for years to come. Preserving slavery was not the reason for the revolution.

On page 64, he declares that “racial stereotypes in stories and movies have not only been about Black people. And this hasn’t only occurred in the past, this continues to happen today. Like in King Kong. Dumbo. Peter Pan. Lady and the Tramp. The Cat in the Hat and many books by Dr. Seuss. Swiss Family Robinson. The Jungle Book. Little House on the Prairie. Curious George. Aladdin. Pocahontas.”

On page 247 of Stamped, Kendi’s book for older students, he divides America into three groups, segregationists are haters, assimilationists, such as Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas and many more are cowards. Antiracists, such as Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Angela Davis are the people who truly love.

Critical race theory examines how social, cultural and legal issues relate to race and racism in America. This analysis is usually taught at the college level. So, when politicians say that critical race theory is not taught in public schools they are technically correct. However, that answer hides more than it reveals. The results of that approach infuse what proponents write for young students as I’ve shown from Kendi’s books. 

America is not perfect but, throughout its history it has strived to become a better nation. Most Americans hope that the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. will be fulfilled and children will grow up in a nation where they would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Recently, a Loudoun County, Virginia, mother pulled her children from public school after her six-year-old asked if she was “born evil” because she’s white. King’s dream may not be possible if we allow this new critical race theory racism to grow.

Stamped (For Kids) and Stamped are both available in the Timberland Library system and probably in your child’s school library and many classrooms.

 

Kyle Pratt

Chehalis

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