Critical Race Theory – why it’s a good thing

Letter published in Saffron Walden Reporter on 19 November 2020

In October’s Black History Month debate in Parliament, our MP warned that teaching ‘Critical Race Theory’ (‘CRT’) was illegal. At the time, (CRT) was unknown in the UK. Interestingly, Trump banned CRT in the USA the previous month. Seems Ms Badenoch followed Trump’s lead.

CRT was developed by legal scholars in America, to understand the effects of historical racism in modern American life. Mysteriously racism still existed, despite anti-racism laws. CRT acknowledges that the fiction of race transformed into racial inequality. Racial discrimination, segregation, anti-miscegenation were lawful for many years post-slavery, and created disadvantages and privileges that exist today. This holds true in the UK; Britain was a world-leader in the slave trade; race discrimination was legal until the UK enacted anti-racism laws.

The fact that BAME people are disproportionately dying from COVID19 is indisputable (in both USA and UK). We may wrongly conclude that genetic factors are to blame (there’s no evidence). But if we apply a CRT lens, we can ask how historic racism influences BAME deaths from COVID.  Many reports show that race inequality exists in the UK, and these – largely unimplemented –  reports recommend ways to remedy it.

American scholars say CRT is indispensable, and widely accepted as a tool to understand America. Trump doesn’t accept it – because his election campaign aimed to divide people by race, rather than unite the nation. Teaching the horrors of white supremacy is unpalatable to white supremacists and racists. Trump tried to censor anti-racism.

During Black History Month, Parliament debated decolonisation of the school curriculum, and proposed that our children should be honestly taught all our histories, including black history. In response, MP Kemi Badenoch’s keenness to echo Trump by declaring CRT illegal is worrying. Why censor anti-racism?

President Elect Biden and VP Kamala Harris promise to heal divisions, and stop ‘Trumpian’ demonization of minorities. I hope Ms Badenoch will follow decent examples, now that Trump’s era is over.

Samantha Naik