North Dakota recently passed HB 1508 which bans Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools. In response there have been several letters from people who are either being intentionally dishonest or simply don’t know what they’re talking about and just want to tow the party line, regardless of what the facts are. These people are claiming that CRT is about teaching history and all the awful things racial minorities have had to face in the last few hundred years in America. This is a lie. CRT is not about history; it never has been. CRT is about a supposed struggle for power between races. Opposing CRT is not denying history.

As I explained in my Sept. 8, 2020, letter, critical race theory is derived from conflict theory in sociology. This theory starts with the conclusion that different races are “at war” with each other and that all societal interactions can be described with this framework. The goal of critical theory is to weed out every minute detail (called microaggressions) that all together build up to be this conflict. CRT is not about what happened a hundred years ago; it is about systemic problems happening today.

Critical race theory is not its own curriculum the same way Western Civilization would be. It is a framework that teachers would use to conduct their teaching. The teachers themselves are the ones being taught CRT as part of “diversity, equity and inclusion” training. It’s how teachers interact with students that would become problematic. For example, little Timmy might come to the teacher asking for help understanding a topic, and the teacher responds by saying Timmy doesn’t deserve any help because he’s white and the teacher needs to focus on helping all the people of color, because that will help correct societal inequality. CRT demands people be treated as members of a group identity, and not as individuals with their own life experiences. It is the progressive version of racial discrimination.

CRT teaches white students they are the cause of society’s problems because they have the wrong skin color.

CRT teaches Black students they are held back by powers beyond their control, that there is no point in trying to succeed because they are set up to fail. CRT teaches Asian students they are simultaneously both privileged and oppressed, depending on what is most politically convenient for progressives in that moment.

This theory is unbelievably toxic and makes racial relations worse because it encourages people to view all social interactions through a lens of race. I don’t have a problem with students being taught about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. I do have a problem with trying to make little Timmy feel guilty about it when he did nothing wrong. That is what needs to be kept out of our schools.

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William Smith lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.