Hey! I Wasn’t Around Then

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

When you delve into the combustible discussion about critical race theory, one thing you will surely discover and that is, many white people are either woefully ignorant (willfully or otherwise) or have been taken captive by dubious arguments about what CRT is or is not.

From some of the vehement discussions about CRT, you would think that Black people, Indigenous peoples, Latinos and Mexicans are asking white people to swallow a red-hot poker!

It is lamentable that too many politicos see a way to score “cultural points” with their white audiences when they divvy out misinformation or outright lies about what CRT is or is not in order to inflame passions and keep Americans divided over issues of race and racism.

Out the outset, let it be clear that CRT does not propose, dictate, demand or insinuate any of the following trolling points:

(1) That whites are taught to be guilty of their American history.

(2) That white children are being indoctrinated to hate themselves for being white.

(3) That CRT is trying to destroy or eradicate America or its institutions.

(4) That if you teach CRT, you are giving permission to left wing radicals to foment racial hate.

(5) That the mere presence of white skin means the person is guilty of racial hatred.

(6) That the teaching of CRT is a precursor to the payment of reparations.

CRT is a set of theorems and debatable suppositions that seeks to understand, elucidate and quantify what metrics have been and are currently responsible for ways and the means by which institutions respond to race and racism; and are thereby ways by which any system which defames, disfigures or debases people of color can rid itself of those negative policies and procedures.

Now, that is a tall order to fully understand and digest, but it needs to be done in order to understand how America became America and where America is heading and especially so when the prognosis is that in the year 2042, America will be a minority-majority country.

With a calm discussion of what CRT is or is not, statisticians, policy makers and educators will be equipped to academically and program wise, illuminate how government has functioned and how it needs to function in the future.

Yes, CRT does garner its factual evidence from the past and how that past, sordid or otherwise, has shaped and continues to shape how minorities are viewed and, more importantly, the future ability to assess, provide and recommend societal resources that will empower minorities to stand equal with those others whom, due to white skin privileges, have had the upper hand and upper crust to thrive in America.

Even on the sensitive topic of white skin privileges, CRT does not breathe brimstone and fire upon the recipients of those privileges be they characterized as politically, socially, economically and mentally.

But rather as a salient teaching point, CRT endeavors to teach and educate that this America did not just, “pop up” out of nowhere and without a historical context and a nascent belief system already in place.

Belief systems are akin to a steering wheel on a car or a rudder on a boat. They will direct the boat and the passengers on the boat to a pre-selected destination and once there, those passengers can choose to engage in the same behavior that got them on the boat or, they can amend or adjust their behavior so that other passengers can get on the same boat and enjoy the amenities that the boat has to offer.

Simple language but the theory, like CRT, does not romanticize history of what that boat and the passengers on that boat did to Indigenous Peoples when that boat arrived in The Americas.

The passengers on that boat made life changing decisions about what they would do to those who were not on the boat when they arrived or when “others” arrived in the future, how their destiny would be shaped and codified into law and policy (i.e., segregation, Jim Crow, slavery, voter suppression, lynchings, discrimination, etc.).

CRT does not dwell on those issues but rather it uses those, “articles of conduct” to tell the uniformed that America’s privileges and how it bestows it blessings and fortunes are not without a traceable history.

But yet it appears that some segments of white society does not want to learn how American society came together using those “articles” and which articles were involved in legally permissible oppression of other Americans; and now those Americans are saying, “You need to acknowledge what happened and who did what to whom,” before we can make permanent amends.

Will the teaching of the theories of CRT cause consternation, guilt, grief, embarrassment and anger? Absolutely! Should it? Yes!

Why? Until you lance a boil, it will continue to fester and will cause pollution to the rest of a healthy system.

CRT is holding a mirror up to America and asking that America not look away too quickly but rather pause and make mental notes of what is good and what is not so good as shown in the mirror’s reflection.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com