INDIANAPOLIS — Critical race theory.
Those three words have ignited a lot of debate across the country about how history and race are discussed in classrooms.
A public forum was held Wednesday at IU’s McKinney School of Law to discuss CRT, what it is and what it’s not.
Indiana lawmakers, professors and scholars tackled the topic in a panel discussion.
“History is not disconnected from where we are today. History is what produced where we are today,” said Kevin Brown, a Richard S. Melvin professor at IU’s Maurer School of Law.
Brown was part of a 1989 gathering of law professors of color, where CRT was first discussed. Those same legal minds continued the discussion over several workshops.
“We were mostly driven by the reality of what we saw was American society had simply normalized the idea that Black people were supposed to have less,” he explained.
Brown said one has only to look at history to understand why disparities for people of color still exist today.
“We talk about history to understand how we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten in the present. We do not talk about history to blame people in the present for what happened in the past,” said Brown.
The concepts behind CRT have ignited a firestorm of controversy across the country, with some state legislatures trying to pass laws to control how teachers talk about history and race in the classroom.
“CRT is not about teaching the contribution of Black Americans and immigrants like me,” said Michael Gonzalez, who was appearing at the forum virtually.
Gonzalez is a senior fellow with the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation and has traveled the country recently, speaking against CRT to parents and state lawmakers.
“CRT is a tool to change society, another instrument to tear down the narrative of American history and culture and replace it with a counter narrative,” Gonzalez told those gathered. “What the architects of critical race theory really want is ideological confirmation around the views of the left."
Brown, one of those architects, explained CRT this way:
“What it’s not is a blame game about people today, but what it is is a need to really consciously examine our history.”
A history Brown believes led to disparities for Black Americans that still exist today and need to be addressed.
“We never really confronted them. We never really put them to bed,” Brown said.
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