The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Critical race theory: What is it?

In the current state of our nation, one of the many issues Americans are divided over is the concept of critical race theory (CRT). But this conversation lacks information about what Critical Race Theory is, and isn’t.

Part of the reason why CRT is controversial is because people don’t know what it is and confuse it with teaching the horrors of U.S history that often does not get properly taught in schools.

According to Purdue Online Writing Lab, critical race theory “is a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant culture modes of expression.” Critical race theory attempts to expose how systemic racism affects cultural perceptions of race by tracing the history of racism in the U.S. 

“It’s a lens we can use to identify injustices in the law,” said Tramaine Austin Dillion, interim manager in the HUB and program and policies specialist in the president’s office.

Dillion, who does social justice work that impacts the entire campus, explained that we can use this theory to examine how laws are “designed to impact the marginalized folks.”

One of the common misconceptions about CRT is that it’s being incorporated into K-12 education.Those against CRT are claiming that teaching the unpleasant truth about our history to K-12 students is what critical race theory is, however, this is not the truth. 

“CRT is not for K-12, it’s for college students…the theory is so beyond that level that it wouldn’t be a service to anyone and could confuse a Kindergartener or First grader. The full history of this country should be taught, including slavery, everything,” said Dillion.

It is harmful to paint a perfect picture of our history to children and to not examine our darker moments – not just to children of color, but also to white children. 

“People wonder why we are angry,” said Shelly Gomez, senior and executive director of the HUB cultural center program. “It’s because we have been given a falsehood on what our history is in this country…this falsehood about our history blinds us to the reality of discrimination that exists today,” said Gomez.

Many fear that teaching the horrors that occurred in our history will make children uncomfortable. But being uncomfortable with injustice is not bad, rather it is what inspires people to use their voice to fight for equality. 

“It might make them feel that way (upset), and that’s ok,” said Dillon.”If you have a heart and a mind, it’s not right and you will be affected by it.” 

Students at SSU believe it’s important for younger children to be taught the full history of the United States rather than the version that presents us as the heroes.  

“If we’re not teaching the honest and brutal history of how we got here on this land, then I feel like we’re doing our kids a disservice and are border-line teaching them lies. I think it’s important for students to be aware that not everything in America has always been clean and nice,” stated Robert Wiles, third year psychology major.

Wiles believes that not teaching the full history of the US is what fuels racism in our country. 

When it comes to learning the full truth about the history of our country, representation matters. 

“It could be just having more diverse books for our kids in K-12,” says Gomez. ”Diversifying your curriculum can be a start.” 

We must be open to learning about our history, even if it makes us uncomfortable. We have to be honest about our past if we want to move forward. It’s not about blaming people for the past, but rather understanding the horrors of our past that affect our present – and then working to do better.

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