Student Voice: Students are the Collateral Damage in Adults’ Culture War
In another attempt to silence the history and experience of Black and Brown communities and coddle White guilt, certain factions are engaging in a political culture war — with the collateral damage being K-12 students. With the big focus on purposely vague terms like “Critical Race Theory,” “Parental Rights,” and “Transparency,” this culture war will soon affect the students in districts across the country.
Though no one on the right has accurately defined what Critical Race Theory is, I can say that it is not a blame-game that claims all White people are responsible for the hardships African American communities face. However, the theory does state that U.S. institutions and systems (criminal justice, healthcare, education) are inherently racist and seeks to explain how life outcomes can be attributed to differences in race. Regardless of this difference, People on the right are igniting an issue that isn’t even there.
No K-12 school in the United States teaches Critical Race Theory. I graduated high school in 2020, and I can attest that the extent of Black history consisted of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Also, most of the information wasn’t new as I moved up grade levels. Most Black students I talk to have similar experiences of learning the same Black history over and over again — thus proving students already have limited knowledge on Black history outside of these three periods of history. This makes it significantly harder to talk about racial discrimination against minority groups in historical and modern contexts and will only put students at a further disadvantage.
Schools are tasked with developing students into positive members of society that hopefully want to change injustice in some aspect. Removing the ability to have critical conversations about racist policies, historical events, and race as a determining factor in life outcomes will limit children when they venture into adulthood. Believing racism is non-existent would be the biggest threat to society.
We should challenge white supremacy, no matter how big or small the task may be. Students have the right to accurate, relevant, and inclusive education. No Black, Latino, or Native student should have to feel like their identity and struggles don’t matter because White lawmakers cannot separate themselves from the institutionalized racism that occurs in this country. Furthermore, White students especially should be learning about the injustice that has consistently harmed Black, Latino, and Native communities so they can understand the realities of our country and move forward understanding their privilege and hopefully helping promote equity within this country.
Kayla Higgs is a student at Trinity Washington University studying global affairs.