About a month ago, I wrote a blog post entitled, Critical Race Theory, Sleight (Slight) of Hand, Smoke & Mirrors ("slight" in parentheses because I had no idea until I wrote it that the correct spelling is "sleight"). Although the blog post was widely read, a month later, I feel a need to write a follow up and hence, this essay.
The banning and the push to ban what is called Critical Race Theory has really picked up steam over the past few months. Politicians in many of the states have made the banning of CRT a legislative priority, and some of my clients in the affected states are literally requesting / saying to me prior to my presentations, "Principal Kafele, please refrain from referencing CRT in your presentation." Talk about the misguided paranoia that has been created! The premise is that CRT is inherently racist and has no place in a K-12 classroom. The purpose of this essay is not to discuss what CRT is or is not. I discussed that in the aforementioned essay...please refer to it. The purpose of this essay is to argue that for those of us who are strong advocates of "curriculums of inclusion" for students of color, coupled with culturally-relevant pedagogy and teaching the truth and fullness of American history with fidelity, the CRT battle is NOT a K-12 battle. It is not a component of the K-12 fight for "classroom curricular and instructional justice" for children of color in general and Black children in particular. This CRT banning is nothing more than a distraction from the decades long fight to ensure that Black children are afforded the right to curriculum and instruction that are inclusive of their reality as Black people in America.
I want to share a personal story that I have never gone public with until this essay. Back in the fall of 1997, my last calendar year as a 5th grade Social Studies teacher before transitioning to administration, I made the decision that my 5th graders needed exposure to and could handle the classic, The Miseducation of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. My school was located in East Orange, NJ, one of the "Blackest" cities in America and it was my intent to ensure that learning was always culturally-relevant for the population of students I served. In using this book, I started with a paragraph from the introduction that was a game-changer for me personally when I was evolving from a "misinformed boy" into a "socially-conscious man" in the 80's. As I tell anyone, this paragraph was the impetus for me becoming a classroom teacher. In the introduction, Dr. Woodson said,