Yaritza Villalba joined Tisha Poncio on the Women in Ed Tech Podcast series, which is part of The Wakelet Podcast. The discussion, which was centered around the importance of Critical Race Theory and equity in education, was insightful and detailed, and is definitely worth a listen! In this post, Yaritza shares more information and knowledge around Critical Race Theory, and explores why the topic is so important for the modern educator to fully understand.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) denotes that within American society and systems, systemic racism is existent. This is widely seen in healthcare, education, housing and employment. CRT exposes the longstanding racial injustices that impact people of color- African Americans, Asians, Latinos and other minorities. This legal framework, developed following the Civil Rights Movement, suggests prejudice is embedded in American legislation, policies, and institutions that uphold racist ideals and inequities.
It is evident that throughout history and in present day, systemic racism has flourished and people of color are disproportionately affected through the school to prison pipeline, increase death of Black women in childbirth, Black and Latino students being expelled three times more often than their white counterparts, homeownership discrimination and housing disparities and so much more. To truly understand the concept of Critical Race Theory, which many lawmakers want to ban, one must truly reflect on the history of a country that has been built on the backs of enslaved persons!
For over 40 years, Critical Race Theory was not discussed outside of legal courses and in the halls of many Black Universities. Last year it slowly crept into our conversations and gained national media attention. This concept has sent politicians, parents and some educators into protest- It is now on the frontlines of education talks and K-12 school board meetings. Once again, CRT is an academic framework that understands how government, education, law and other social institutions in America have been and are still influenced by racism. The biggest misconception of Critical Race Theory is that it is being taught in K-12 schools. As previously mentioned, for many decades, CRT has been taught in universities and law schools. We need to teach the truth and realities of the existence of systemic racism in our schools. Following the beginning of the Pandemic, educators understand the importance of culturally responsive-sustaining education, diversity, and teaching the history of enslavement. Along with these things should be the truth about institutionalized racism that still exists today.
Another myth is that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is Anti-white. A myth and misconception used by many lawmakers and politicians to keep CRT out of K-12 schools. It is clear that this myth is mostly shared by those who do not believe systemic racism exist or truly don’t understand this framework. Politicians and parents alike claim that CRT will force white students to feel guilty about the social and political systems that are in place. When I entered college, I was amazed by all of the new concepts I was being taught. But I was also furious because I should have been taught these things that impact my life, during my K-12 education experience. This is the same with racism. It is a tough pill to swallow when teaching students. But it is necessary.
In order to care about Critical Race Theory, one must first ask: how do you advance racial justice in America? We must dismantle discrimination and segregation. Although a lot has changed since the Civil Rights Movement, many things have remained the same. People of Color are still marching and fighting for equal rights-liberty. People of Color are still competing twice as much for careers and opportunities. Equity is the only way to dismantle this system of oppression and racism that people of color are experiencing on a day to day basis; in schools, work, at our homes, and even in healthcare. Let’s stand together and promote equity- as it is the only true way to dismantle racism and discrimination.
During Community Week last year, Yaritza joined Misbah from the Wakelet Team as a keynote speaker for a really important main stage webinar about Culturally Responsive Teaching. Rewatch this webinar here!