To the editor:
On Monday, April 25, the Garrett County NAACP chapter hosted a webinar concerning critical race theory in education. The objective was to discuss the origins, definition, and purpose of critical race theory and its role in our education system.
This program was created to address the confusion and divisiveness surrounding CRT, a topic that is actually not very well understood by many folks, but has nonetheless stirred up a lot of controversy.
The discussion, which took place via Zoom, was open to all community members. GCNAACP welcomed folks from all political affiliations, including local Republicans, Democrats and Independents. As a nonpartisan chapter, GCNAACP appreciates everyone’s participation in the program, which is set to be an ongoing conversation as it pertains to education (as well as history) as a whole.
During the discussion, we had three guest speakers: Stephen Northup, Tifani Fisher (president of the Allegany NAACP Branch), and Fred Chavis (president of the Washington County NAACP branch.)
Stephen Northup, a Vietnam veteran and graduate of Harvard Law School, presented what CRT is and isn’t. He explained that CRT considers how laws and practices over the course of American history were influenced by the views of the time in order to help reduce and eventually eliminate those disparities. A clear example is the practice of redlining.
He concluded with three points: 1) CRT is not a course in diversity & inclusion training; 2) CRT does not seek to place blame for the racial disparities on which it focuses; and 3) CRT was never intended to be a curriculum to be taught in our primary and secondary schools.
President Tifani Fisher proposed that learning all of our shared history — both the good and the bad, minus any assumed connection to CRT — helps us all develop community. No one is blaming any of our ancestors. And we cannot reverse past events or the ways in which each of us was raised. What we can do is listen to each other’s stories, appreciating the mosaic which all Americans together have created.
The GCNAACP program was motivated by the national discussion of CRT in education. The discussion is not advocacy for CRT, but rather an open conversation on its definition and application, as well as a broader examination of education. An audio recording of the presentation is available at bit.ly/3kwZ7ih.
Garrett County NAACP