The above video is by a Black man who doesn’t want his children to be taught about systemic racism because he worries that this will make them feel they cannot be anything they want to be.
In the United States, we set a lot of store by the individual, and this has a major impact on our policies and politics. The idea that our infrastructure and our systems play a role in how we live our lives is counter to this notion of individuality and success by hard work.
I had meant to include this as another theory for why so many people are so against Critical Race Theory or notions of systemic racism. If racism is not perpetuated by individuals but by systems, then you have to realize that the whole system impacts your life. Clearly, this type of realization is scary for some people. I am more sympathetic to the fears of this Black man than I am to the fears of Christopher Furo, who appears to be the person who started the Critical Race Theory panic.
Paulo Friere, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, would disagree that learning history and systemic racism would make Black children feel they cannot be their best selves. His premise is that by knowing who you are, through history and self-reflection, and understanding the systems of oppression, allows a person to unchain themselves better from those systems. Friere did base much of his work on Marxism, which I know scares many Americans.
This is an essential divide in how people view government in our country. I find it difficult to get past my own bias of believing that we need public goods such as roads, schools, bridges, libraries, hospitals, procedures for starting businesses, criminal justice and many more. All of these public goods have to be paid for and run by the government, and all of them benefit all of us. And all of them have been around for many years and are steeped in power structures that privilege some people over others. That is my bias. I know some people believe differently, that they worked hard and did not benefit from these public goods or that everyone received the same benefits they did. It’s funny though that they feel they need laws to ensure that their way of seeing the world will be taught in schools. If they are correct, wouldn’t it just be taught?