Last month, a skirmish broke out in a local meeting discussing whether to teach critical race theory in our area public schools. The scuffle revealed a chink in the armor of humanity; that being, whenever we pit one group against another group, tempers flare and fights erupt.
CRT originated in the United States in the mid-1970s in response to civil-rights injustices. It examines social, cultural and legal issues primarily related to race and racism. But while beginning with legitimate grievances, it falls short in its application.
Children deserve to know the fullest truth about our complicated past. But if we approach this by assessing others in light of their “group,” not as individuals, and promoting justice without mercy, we’ll fail them.
Racial injustice needs to be challenged and corrected. But CRT, with its Marxist underpinnings, leads to denigrating one group to raise up another, with the goal of a readjustment of power. Ultimately, the group deemed the oppressed becomes the oppressor, so instead of fostering justice, we just relocate injustice.
Injustice isn’t an isolated problem monopolized by one country or race. It’s a human problem that started in the Garden of Eden. Until we realize we all share this proclivity to type one another wrongly, peace will remain elusive.
When Jesus entered human history, he approached people individually. He wanted us to know that our identity is in God, not in the town we’re from, or the food we eat, or even the family we live in.
“As long as it’s ‘them’ and ‘us,’ we won’t get anywhere,” said Fr. Mike Schmitz, chaplain at the University of Minnesota Duluth, in an online interview. He then referenced 1 Corinthians 10:13, saying, “There’s no trial that’s come upon you that’s not common to all human beings.” We each carry crosses of one sort or another, and all need grace.
CRT moves us backward. By assigning untoward intentions to all people of a certain race, it perpetuates the very thing it claims it wants to abolish – racism.
What if we were to take the good of CRT – confronting unjust treatment of one another – and move forward without trampling over an entire race to do it?
We need a way forward that fosters thoughtful discussion; one allowing those wanting to be heard a voice; and those wanting to help heal, the ability to receive the message. This can only happen if we assume the best in each other, remembering the inherent dignity of all.
In Corinthians 5, Saint Paul says that, since Christ died for all, “from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. So, whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
It’s time for a new discussion, one that won’t set groups against each other, nor shame anyone based on skin color. Only when we see each other as individuals in the same human family, with similar basic needs and dreams, will healing and harmony be possible.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 19, 2021.]