Letter to the Editor: CRT Is Not Racism

Politics has always been a place to test ideas and challenge the status quo. However, ideas that are based on falsehood have no place in the public square. If a group wishes to propagate hate and division in our communities, we must speak up to challenge that group full on.

Specifically, I am speaking of the rash of “CRT Is Racism” signs that are appearing throughout the county. Let’s be clear: Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a conversation held by postdoctoral fellows and others about a methodology for teaching history from the perspective of those who have traditionally had no voice in telling the story. It has recently achieved buzzword status through the repetitive use of the term by right-wing bullhorns to defend their own racist rhetoric. 

Calling the theory racist is a way of getting ahead of a legitimate conversation about racism by falsely defining a context for that conversation. Accusing your opponent of your own faults is a very familiar tactic used to disseminate propaganda. We do not need that kind of conversation in Door County.

History has always been written by the victors. As Europeans settled in America and overwhelmed the existing culture, we got to write the history. Every culture is defined by the myths and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. The American story includes the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, Washington crossing the Delaware, Daniel Boone opening the wilderness and wagon trains carrying European settlers into the Great West. These stories are all told by white people of European descent about the growth of a new, powerful nation. 

What we seldom hear are the stories of African slaves forcibly brought here to do the hard work of construction. We seldom hear of the postslavery culture, which created a second-class citizenship for Americans of African descent. We seldom hear the stories of the First Nations people who were forcibly evicted from a rich, fertile land so that European settlers could take what they wanted for themselves. Why? Because people without power do not have the means to get their story told or heard.

In the 21st century, we are beginning to hear these stories. We recognize that the American story is richer, more diverse and more profound than the myths that have sustained us until now. There are heroes in Black America such as Sojourner Truth and George Washington Carver, who have enriched our story with tales of their quest for personal freedom. There is wisdom in the indigenous leaders who formed the Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) and provided us with fundamental democratic principles. 

These stories, told from the perspective of nonwhite people, are critical in understanding the civilization we have become in the 21st century. Decrying these stories as “racism” seeks to continue the suppression of complete truth for the purpose of perpetuating the whites-only story.

Let’s demand that these signs be taken down. Let’s open our minds to a truth that may be uncomfortable at first, but, when fully embraced, will make us all the more proud to say, “I am an American.”

Rev. Mark S. Richards, BCC

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin