October 21, 2021

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was (is?) trending hard on Twitter today for spending a good measure of air time on "The View" agreeing with Moscow MItch that it was time to "move on" from January 6th, while insisting she didn't know how much more forcefully she could condemn the insurrection itself. (Pro Tip: Saying "It was WRONG" isn't enough.)

It was her remarks about Critical Race Theory, though, that set my teeth on edge, and from the looks of it, the hosts of the show agreed with me.

Whoopi Goldberg put forth that CRT isn't taught in lower grades or high school, and Rice said, "I sure hope not, because I'm not sure 7-year-olds need to learn it."

Well, they aren't. Not in the form in which it was conceived and is meant to be taught - it's law school curriculum.

She tried to make the argument that parents have a right to be involved (they do) and that in her day there were PTA meetings and ways for parents to participate (there still are those things) but as Joy Behar rightly pointed out, teachers spend years learning their curriculum and how to teach it, and parents don't get to demand certain items in the syllabus not be taught because it offends their fragile sensibilities.

Especially, if they're dead-ass wrong about what's being taught in the first place. I swear to christ, if I were still teaching, any parent who came at me with that sh*t complaining about CRT, I'd tell them if they wanted to occupy my time with their complaints, they'd have to correctly define CRT first and adequately demonstrate the parts of my curriculum that corresponded with it.

But no, Rice kept saying that history should be taught, including slavery, but that white children shouldn't be taught to feel bad about it, nor should they be taught to feel bad about being white.

"It goes back to how we teach the history. We teach the good and we teach the bad of history," Rice said. "What we don't do is make 7-year-olds and 10-year-olds feel they are somehow bad people because of the color of their skin."

That is not what teaching history does.

It's not even what Critical Race Theory does when taught in graduate school or law school. It simply examines laws and societal norms from a racial perspective. It asks a student to consider how racism may have played a role in the formation of everything from political systems to food insecurity to health care. It has everything to do with intersectionality (in fact, it's a term and theory coined by the same brilliant scholar who coined "intersectionality"...Kimberlé Crenshaw) and how to unwind those tangled cords.

Back to Rice's comments, though, remember. You cannot properly teach about slavery to a group of children — especially white children — without them feeling bad about it. It's a sad chapter in our history. It's shameful. Don't we want our kids to react appropriately to such things? Otherwise we're DOING IT WRONG.

But you know what? A GOOD teacher takes their students' sad and bad feelings about what happened in the past — feelings that arise out of a child's well-developed sense of empathy and morals, by the way — and empowers them by helping them come up with ways to make certain they can do things differently from three or four generations ago. They can improve. Learn. White kids can learn ways to use their privilege to help others up, and speak out against injustice. Black and brown kids can learn that under no circumstances should anyone devalue them or consider them less than. They have as much a right to strength, love, learning, security, freedom, and peace as their white classmates.

You know who doesn't want their white kids to learn that? Racists. And you know who loved what Rice had to say today? RACISTS.

Here's why I will never be critical of her, nor will I fault her, even though I viscerally disagree with the substance of what she's saying here: she is saying what she's saying because of white supremacy.

No matter what level of power and/or wealth she reaches, Condoleezza Rice is still an underdog in our system where white supremacy rules. If racism didn't run rampant, if policing wasn't simply a 21st-century version of slave-catching, if white supremacists weren't vying for and reaching power at every level of our local and federal government, she wouldn't feel the need to play to them. She might not have grown up in a segregated world. She might not have internalized that in order to be accepted into the circle of power, she had to spout these disingenuous talking points.

And whose fault is that, really?

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