I am writing this letter in reference to the article in Payson Roundup published on Sept. 28, 2021 entitled “Rep. Blackman blasts ‘critical race theory’ in fundraiser.” I am a student at the University of Georgia’s Master of Social Work program, providing me with expertise in matters related to social justice and diversity. This article caught my attention because the arguments do not align with the true framework of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
The article begins with Rep. Blackman mentioning that critical race theory ignores the words and lessons of Martin Luther King Jr., but I respectfully disagree. It is true that in his I Have a Dream speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said that he did not want his children to be judged by the color of their skin. However, what he meant was that he did not want his children to be viewed negatively based on the color of their skin. While he was advocating for an end to racism, he was not advocating for color blindness. Acknowledging that the systems in our society are inherently racist due to our country’s history is an idea that Martin Luther King Jr. would have agreed with. The focus of critical race theory is that racism is ordinary and normal in our society. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, he states that it is the ordinary everyday people, rather than extremists that are the true perpetrators of racism and racial inequality. The prejudices that average people hold are exactly what CRT aims to address.
The author also mentions that conservative organizations say that CRT “leads to a focus on group identity over universal shared traits.” My question for your readers is, is that necessarily a negative and harmful thing? Awareness and acknowledgment of our differences can lead to a higher level of knowledge and understanding. By ignoring our differences, we are shutting off possibilities of important conversations about perspectives that could bring about mutual understanding and closer communities.
Ultimately, I wonder how banning race-related topics in Arizona classrooms could have the possibility of bettering our society and preparing our children for adulthoods of furthering humanity. By learning CRT, children have the opportunity to understand that people and systems can be flawed, and it is up to them to create a future better than the past.
Jennifer Weinstein, Athens, Ga.