How a college-level course is causing mayhem in Texas

History: Civil Rights
Posted at 11:37 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 13:05:52-04

KILLEEN, TX — Shila Casey loves her grandchildren dearly but worries what kind of world they're growing up in. She says, the older she gets, the more she realizes some of the "historical facts" she learned, weren't exactly facts because history gets written by the winners.

"People being treated unfairly, in history has made it seem like it's swept under the rug that we have a lumpy rug. Yes. America has a very lumpy rug," said Casey.

Lumpy, because other people with other truths have come forward to tell their stories.

The best way of working those lumps out depends on who you ask.

Many call honesty the best policy, while others want to protect us from a truth that could turn out, more painful than the one we learned in school.

"Actually that's part of the problem in this country, history has not been facts. It's been only certain facts, only particular facts" said Jo Welter of the McLennan County Race Relations Coalition.

She says the so-called "Critical Race Theory" helps to fill that gap by closely examining the role race has played in governments and their decisions.

It also challenges mainstream approaches to racial justice, so there's something for just about everybody to hate, especially conservatives.

"The originating principle espoused by critical race theory is that America was not founded in order to propagate and expand Christianity. It was founded for the purpose of promoting slavery, which is absolutely untrue," said Col. Jon Ker, U.S. Army (Ret.) and a member of the Texas Republican Executive Committee.

Many admit the approach does borrow a few ideas from socialist revolutionary Karl Marx, while others downplay any connection.

It's one reason states like Texas have moved to outlaw the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools.

But the bill passed in Austin caused considerable trouble for Waco ISD during one of its board meetings in May.

"A teacher could be teaching about the Civil Rights Movement, and have a discussion about the Ku Klux Klan and they have to give their students reason why they (the Klan) were justified in doing what they did," said Waco ISD Trustee Jeremy Davis.

The bill makes discussion of many topics "optional", and made teachers responsible for showing all sides of an issue.

"I don't know that we want to ask our teachers, essentially to play devil's advocate for some viewpoints that they may find morally abhorrent," said Waco ISD Chief of Staff Kyle Debeer.

Ker believes Critical Race Theory, gets a little too critical and doesn't give this country any credit for the things it's done right or tried to.

"It gets rid of the history of the struggle that we have had as a people, to eliminate the wrong of slavery," said Col. Jon Ker.

It forces us, say some, to face the demons of our collective past and deal with them.

"I would challenge anyone to actually read what Critical Race Theory is about and talk about how that actually creates hate. I think what it does is reveals the way that there are holes in our policies, in our practices, in our laws that allow hate to thrive," said Deborah Ortega, PhD. who teaches critical race theory at the University of Denver.

"Why now? Why, if this has been around since Brown v. Board of Education, why only now is it coming to a head across the country?" asked 25 New's Dennis Turner.

"That's a great question. I think part of it is the violence in the communities, not just the Black communities… so I think that there has been a look to an answer of how to understand the context of what's happening," said Ortega.

Casey says oftentimes, what's happening reflects man's inhumanity to man.

"Uncovering some things and making some people feel uncomfortable, we're gonna get uncomfortable. We're uncomfortable now. Look at all the racial issues going on," she said.

Experts say the issues are caused by a lack of communication and understanding.

Jo Welter says, whether we subscribe to Critical Race Theory or not, we should want the conversation on race to keep going and never end.

"So that's what we do (at the coalition) is talk about race. If we don't talk about maybe, to us, this is the most vital and challenging issue in our country," she said.

And after last year's protests, many more seem to agree.

But Shila Casey wonders if all this talk about the academic study of race matters less than following the example of our children, who tend not to see, or care about our differences.

"These kids out here, because they're all different, different nationalities cultures even one is biracial. Does that give me hope for the future? If we teach kids to understand and respect. Yes."