1. What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory seeks to identify and analyze the way that people of color are marginalized and then find solutions to undo those structures that marginalize people of color.
2. How does formal curriculum typically portray African & Native Americans?
As passive beings that are caught up in the throes of history rather than having their own agency. We see their oppression more than their contributions. They are also perceived as backwards and never adapting and/or enacting change to their own circumstances or to American history.
3. What is the dominant means by which society receives its racial messages?
Popular media is how society receives most of its racial messages, but in the schools it is the teachers. In the history classroom, it is the history textbook and teacher.
4. How can education promote personal awareness of biases?
Well applying critical race theory to education will definitely help promote personal awareness of biases. I had many biases that I was unaware of and nobody ever called me out on them. What happen instead is that I came across social justice ideas, such as critical race theory, and did my own research. I became convinced after enough research and then I took the critical race theory lens to myself. I found that my own past or current beliefs and actions helped supported white supremacy and I took on the life goal of letting go such beliefs in order to become a better person.
Having access to these ideas is the most important thing to make people more self aware and not everybody does have access. I, for example, did not learn anything about concepts such as critical race theory or white privilege until last summer. I went through 27 or more years without being exposed to these ideas. Sure one can argue that they are out there on the internet and thus are available to most people, yet how do look for something you did not realize existed? I got my first exposure to critical race theory in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Friere and in South Africa. Once I was exposed to it, I became curious and did my own research. Only then was I able to use the available information on the internet because I knew what I was looking for. That is why the best thing we can do as social studies educators is to introduce these ideas to students. It is then up to those students on where they take those ideas. One of the ways that we must introduce these ideas to students is through critical race theory. It is not just important for students of color to hear, but especially for white students to hear who can easily be caught unaware due to their white privilege.