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A slave auction in Virginia.  Rischgitz/Getty Images
A slave auction in Virginia.  Rischgitz/Getty Images

Back to school with a thorny debate | OP-ED

America still can't agree on what its history is, what to tell and how to teach it. Critical theories divide an ideologized environment.

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The Project 1619, an ongoing initiative from NYT launched in 2019 to reconstruct the erased slave dye in the construction of the U.S., is still treading on corns. The praise and criticism — has come in equal measure — for this historical revision, highlights the deep division in society.

President Donald Trump set up a commission to attack the project, urged to tell a more "patriotic" story, and threatened to strip funding from schools that used the material. Biden shut down the commission and now the fight continues state by state.

In the eye of the hurricane is Critical Race Theory, or CRT. A practice interrogating how institutionalized racism perpetuates a racial caste system and relegates people of color. It is not about "acts" of racism or a few "bad apples," racism is part of the law, culture, education... in other words, the system.

These days, USA Today and Ipsos conducted a survey on parents about their views on the inclusion of the teaching of racism as a historical fact in the U.S. The main conclusion is no longer surprising. Parents want their children to learn about the continuing effects of slavery, but not about CRT. It turns out they are the same thing.

While eight in 10 Democratic parents believe their children should learn about racism and slavery, only four in 10 Republican parents think the same. Only 37% of white parents favor implementing CRT in schools, while the figure rises to 83% for parents of color.

For some, the teaching of concepts of equity, justice, racism, ethnicity and intolerance, are the payment of a historical debt and consistent with today's multiculturalism. For others, it leads to victimization, the oppressor-oppressed scheme, and the singling out of white people.

According to Chalkbeat, 28 states have already restricted the application of CRT in schools, and any class portrayed as "divisive" can carry punishment.

How do you teach the Civil War, the Trail of Tears, the Chicano movement? If in doubt, there is always teaching them to question, argue and ponder, if not in school, then at home.

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