It's Time We Come Together to Talk About Critical Race Theory

I am not an expert in Critical Race Theory (CRT), or the complex ways that race has impacted our history and communities. Instead, I consider myself an informed citizen who engages with difficult conversations by listening and seeking perspectives from those who are more knowledgeable than I am. 

CRT is everywhere and will continue to be in our media, social circles, local elections, and legislation for the foreseeable future. I don’t know enough about CRT to feel comfortable going into the August primaries where folks will be voting for candidates publicly campaigning around this issue. I would argue that if you’re engaged in this topic, but not an educator or a dedicated scholar of CRT, then you probably don’t know enough either. In another election year, that wouldn’t be a problem. But when we go to the polls this year, we’re voting on candidates who are making CRT a central theme of their platform. It’s on us to make sure we know what we’re actually voting for.

Mainstream Coalition originated because folks of different perspectives believed in the power of working together to protect the rights of Kansans against extreme ideologies. The fervor around CRT is just the latest example of how voters are being pushed towards the edges without fairly engaging them in meaningful conversation. We’re all being subjected to overly simplified talking points rather than talking about a complicated theoretical approach to understanding even more complicated issues. And because of this, we’re dancing around the issue that we really should be discussing - WHY do we need to talk about race in our classrooms?

Now I have my opinion about this, and undoubtedly you have yours. But instead of shouting at each other about it, shouldn’t we have a candid, informed conversation? I hope we discover that when we push past the headlines and assumptions, we find that we both want the same thing - for our youth to have a deep understanding of our country and people that instills pride while still allowing for acknowledgment of wrongs. Shouldn’t our goal be to ensure our children become smart, compassionate adults equipped to make good decisions? Partisan politics shouldn’t play a part in that desire. And if it does, then you’re looking at things wrong.

Mainstream Coalition is hosting a panel on July 27th where we hope to have the conversation around CRT that has been missing. We’ve invited panelists who don’t agree, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to allow shouting. In fact, we've invited media and education professionals to join us immediately following the event for their response to what they heard as a way of holding ourselves to a high standard of truth and transparency. We’re grateful for the chance to build our state's capacity to engage in civil discourse, and dedicated to facilitating a conversation that represents the best of what can happen when diverse Kansas voices come together. 

I invite you to join me, and not just because it’s going to be an interesting conversation. One thing that both sides of this issue have correct is that CRT - or more accurately, the discussion of race and our society that the term CRT is being misused to broadly describe - does affect you, and not just because politicians are using it to try to win your vote. The way we talk about our history and participation in policies that impact people differently is not just an academic pursuit for our students. It’s an issue that we all need to engage with. We’ve bypassed so many opportunities in our lifetimes to have better conversations about race, and with all eyes on CRT we now have another open door to do just that. 

I think we should walk through it together rather than stand on opposite sides and call each other names.

Critical Race Theory (CRT): What Is It and Why Has It Become a Rallying Cry?
July 27 at 6 pm

Dr. Liz Meitl, Alternative Certification Program Adviser at Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and Mainstream Coalition Board member, will lead our panel of experts, that includes:

  • Dr. Chase M. Billingham, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wichita State University
  • Danedri Herbert, Editor at The Sentinel
  • Mark E. McCormick, Director Of Communications at ACLU of Kansas and 3rd District Commissioner, Kansas African American Affairs Commission

Immediately following the panel, stay with us for the response from media and education professionals. We'll be joined by:

  • Sherman Smith, Editor-in-Chief at Kansas Reflector 
  • Shawn Stewart, Civil Rights Contributor at The Pitch
  • David Smith, Chief Communications Officer at Shawnee Mission School District and Mainstream Coalition Board Vice President

Reserve Your Virtual Seat Today

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published this page in Blog 2021-07-22 15:18:18 -0500
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