by Peter Mertz
DENVER, the United States, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Critical Race Theory (CRT), an educational concept that examines continuing racism across America, has become a political lightening rod with conservative legislatures banning the study and liberal educators pushing back.
"The fact that I have to worry about someone getting hurt at a school board meeting is ridiculous, and everyone in the nation should be ashamed of that," said Babur Lateef of a debate growing increasingly heated, political, and dominating daily headlines from coast to coast.
Lateef, a school board chairman in Virginia, told Yahoo News on Friday that police were called into his meeting to break up a shouting match headed toward violence over the contentious issue.
A USA Today/Ipsos back-to-school survey on Sept. 10 found that 49 percent of parents approve of teaching CRT in K-12 education, while 39 percent disapprove and 21 percent were undecided.
According to the Zinn Education Project, at least 27 states are in the process of passing legislation to ban the teaching of CRT in the classroom.
"Who are those one out of four parents who don't want their kid learning history?" asked David Hinojosa on Friday, a lawyer with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
"Or do they think American history should be taught, but without slavery?" he asked the Washington Examiner newspaper. POLITICAL POLARITY
CRT is also politically polarized -- "more than eight in 10 Democrat parents believed their children should learn about the lingering impact of slavery and racism in schools, compared to fewer than four in 10 Republican parents," the USA Today/Ipsos survey said.
Many former staffers of 2020 defeated Republican candidate Donald Trump are guiding and spearheading the anti-CRT campaign in several states, media sources report.
Conservatives argued that CRT continues to divide America and actually hurt minorities by classifying them as disadvantaged, while liberal educators said that "censoring" the ugly path of racism since the Civil War was a critical part of U.S. history, and should not be ignored.
"Look, we spent a lot of time in this country healing old wounds and learning about past divisions," North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, a Republican, told Fox News on Saturday.
Robinson, an African American, told Fox that schools need to "talk more about the positive experiences we've had fighting prejudice, and not the divisions."
"We work together, we serve in the military together, we go to church together, we get married together, we've come a long way," he said.
But Robinson's own boss North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, last week vetoed a bill banning the teaching of CRT and announced on Twitter: "This bill pushes calculated conspiracy-laden politics into public education."
"Republicans have put all of their educational grievances into opposing the so-called liberal education system and they've come up with bashing CRT," a North Carolina educator told Xinhua on Saturday.
"The irony is that CRT is rarely taught in high school at all -- they're making a mountain out of a molehill, their complaints are all over the place," he said, asking to remain unnamed. WHITEWASHED
On Monday, the all-white Grapevine-Colleyville school board in Texas was expected to fire Colleyville Heritage High School Principal James Whitfield for writing that systemic racism is "alive and well" after the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.
"Education is the key to stomping out ignorance, hate, and systemic racism," Whitfield wrote, words that apparently got him suspended last month, the Texas Tribune reported.
The Texas battle seemed to be just starting, with Governor Greg Abbott signing an anti-CRT bill Friday and ignoring pleas from Democrats.
"Intentional prejudice against people of color is racist," Rafael Nachia, a Texas Democratic state representative told MSNBC.
"This is not old-time news real stuff, this is digital, and contemporary, all happening in the past decade regarding voting rights and unconstitutional attempts to limit people of color to vote," he said.
CRT is an academic discipline that holds that racism is inherent in societal systems that broadly perpetuate racial inequity, noted the Texas Tribune, but that "it's rarely taught in high school classrooms."
However, CRT had "turned into a Republican rallying cry in an apparent pushback against increased conversations about diversity and inclusion and unpacking implicit bias," the Tribune noted.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders claimed CRT indoctrinates students and tells white students that they are racist, with Republican Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick calling CRT a "ridiculous leftist narrative" on Twitter.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said philosopher George Santayana in 1905 -- a quote used frequently today by CRT advocates, who say proof is abundant that racism runs rampant across the country. SYSTEMIC RACISM
CRT is a school of thought that believes racism is institutionalized and embedded in America's history, noted Complete Colorado news earlier this month.
This week, Colorado's Attorney General Phil Weiser found the police department in the large Denver suburb of Aurora had "routinely violated state and federal law by engaging in racially biased policing and the use of excessive force."
The finding came as little surprise to civil rights advocates, who said that acts of police violence against minorities, especially blacks, had increased in recent years.
And for the past 30 years, African Americans had made few numerical gains in money-making power-fields such as medicine, law, engineering, and finance, U.S. Census Bureau data showed, another sign of systemic racism, CRT educators noted.
But American conservatives are averse to discussing this, or even the landmark 1960s Civil Rights movement.
Abbott's bill, that would take effect on Dec. 2, told educators "to teach only that slavery and racism are 'deviations' from the founding principles of the United States," the Dallas News reported this week.
"Legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history," the Zinn project posted on its website this week.
The website read in part, "that aim to prohibit teachers from teaching the truth about this country: It was founded on dispossession of Native Americans, slavery, structural racism and oppression; and structural racism is a defining characteristic of our society today."
A recent data analysis from NBC-News confirmed that "fear" had caused a widespread attack on CRT.
"Reporters found that the districts hosting some of the most combative debates over diversity and inclusion initiatives --including just teaching about racism -- have seen a steady increase in students of color attending their schools," Slate.com reported Saturday.
"In Gwinnett County, Georgia, where parents have squared off over critical race theory, there has been a 52.4 percent increase in students of color since 1994," Slate said.