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(CRT) vs. Identity Politics The Battle for The School System

Identity Politics is a political approach that emphasizes the experiences and perspectives of individuals based on their particular characteristics, such as race, gender, sexuality, and so on. The focus is on the recognition and representation of these identities in political decision-making and discourse.

Critical Race Theory (CRT), on the other hand, is a specific framework for examining the intersection of race and the law and the ways in which these intersections reinforce and perpetuate racial oppression. While (CRT) recognizes the importance of identity and lived experiences, its focus is on analyzing the systemic and structural factors that contribute to racial inequality and injustices.

So, while both Identity Politics and (CRT) are concerned with the experiences and perspectives of marginalized communities, the focus and approach are slightly different. Identity Politics is primarily focused on representation and recognition, while (CRT) is focused on critique and analysis of the laws, policies, and structures that shape society in strict regards to race.

One might even say that (CRT) owes its existence to Identity Politics and they may not be too far from the truth. The framework of (CRT) is deeply based on laws and policy in regards to race. Identity Politics has been here since the inception of this country and has had a large influence on those laws and policies; shaping them as we move throughout history.

Many of the current anti-discrimination laws and policies critiqued by (CRT) now, exist because of activist movements from the Civil Rights Era. Political unrest will always exist and because of that the laws continuously change every day. However, while (CRT) provides a forum of deep analysis into these subjects, Identity Politics on the other hand is an untamed beast. Peaceful protests sometimes turn violent, because people often get extremely passionate about what they believe.

These are the reasons why when applied to the faculties of education the two do not always mix; and in some cases, never should. The reason being is because Identity Politics is deeply interrelated, with activism. There's nothing wrong with teaching the "idea" of activism in educational courses, but I think that many parents, educators, and lawmakers would agree that it could be harmful to teach the ideologies and goals of particular social activist groups to students in grades K-12.

A good example of how the two conflict, is the recent situation in Florida. The Department of Education has been facing a lot of criticism for rejecting parts of the College Board's Advanced Placement curriculum on African American studies, in January. The course intended for high-school students was deemed in violation of the state's "Stop W.O.K.E. Act," which was passed in April of 2022.

The law prohibits the promotion of the idea that individuals of a certain race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior, inherently racist, or sexist, or bear responsibility for the actions of others. It also prohibits the promotion of the idea that concepts such as merit and hard work are racist or sexist. According to Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, the course contains sensitive subjects such as "queer theory" which he said is "pushing an agenda", while the Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz Jr., referred to it as "woke indoctrination masquerading as education."

Gov. Ron DeSantis moments before signing the "stop woke" legislation on April 22, 2022.

The state's decision sparked a lot of controversy and a debate on the teaching of Black history in Florida. The College Board was forced to revise the framework of the course which they released on February 1st; the first day of Black History Month. Critics argue that the state's actions have intimidated educators and left them unsure of how to approach sensitive subjects in Black history without violating state laws.

Many supporters of Critical Race Theory would call this an attack. One of the key reasons why I support the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools is because I believe that it is essential for promoting racial diversity and combating systemic racism. By educating all students about the history of race in America, and how it has been used as a tool of oppression and inequality, we can begin to build a more equitable and just society.

From its inception, the Stop Woke Act has been criticized for its potential to downplay the historical significance of slavery, the genocide and displacement of indigenous Americans, Jim Crow laws, the internment of the Japanese, the Civil Rights Era, and other important events in American history.

I agree that no one should have to feel guilty or be in constant gratitude to other groups of people for the crimes this nation and its four fathers committed. Neither should any group of people have to feel inferior to another, just because of their race and ethnicity. The rejection of the African-American history courses in Florida has sparked similar debates; more specifically, about the role of education in promoting racial diversity. Without a doubt we absolutely should be encouraging students to learn about different perspectives and understand the complexities of race, rather than trying to downplay or dismiss important voices and perspectives. Furthermore, politicians referring to critical academic writings by black scholars and historians as "woke indoctrination," is not only dismissive of the experiences and perspectives of people of color, but they are also inherently indoctrinating in their own right. This promotes a narrow and one-dimensional view of history, and reinforces the notion that there is only one "correct" way to think about and understand the world.


 As long as educators and writers are unbiased in their approach staying close to historical fact and current events regarding race, as opposed to ideologies that lean close to this or that activist group, they shouldn't have a reason to be intimidated. Infact, I don't believe (CRT) is under attack; I believe Identity Politics is under attack but, it's hiding behind (CRT).

The problem with this as that it convinces some Americans that it's (CRT) they dislike when in actuality its Identity Politics they have a problem with. Identity Politics has its place in our society, just not in children's classrooms. It's possible for an educator to teach a class about racially charged police brutality for example without the inclusion of a deeper discussion or subject centered around Black Lives Matter movement. While I do not agree with all aspects of the rejection of the new AP African-American course, I do agree with Governor DeSantis's opinion that subjects like queer theory have no place in a course for black history, especially for high-school students.

I also believe that if the course proposed was one on the topic of European-American history including a subject on white queer theory the results would have been the same. In fact, the proposal wouldn't have made it outside of the school board building. When teaching a classroom on how great any historical figure was, what would their sexuality have to do with anything? Both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X were great men; at what part of teaching their accomplishments do we care about their sexuality? Why is that relevant? It's history not romance.

While it's important to acknowledge the experiences and contributions of the LGBTQ community, it's also crucial to be mindful of the age and maturity of students and to ensure that they are not exposed to inappropriate or controversial ideas. The LGBTQ community is racially diverse and has always been present, but there does seem to be an odd preference to make the queer experience indistinguishable from the black experience. This not only erases the unique challenges faced by people of color, but it also marginalizes the LGBTQ community by combining their experiences with those of black America. I believe what we have here is a text book example of Critical Race Theory versus Identity Politics and as demonstrated, academics and activism should never be mixed; at least not without understanding that we risk indoctrinating our children with the ideologies of activist organizations and communities, who's goals may be too radical for children to understand.

For those that disagree I believe they may not understand that law makers allowing one activist community into the educational curriculum would be allowing all. Imagine a course that instead of only making quick reference to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Neo-Nazi, or Alt-Right, it also provided a deeper understanding into the ideology of the groups. In my opinion even if the courses are optional, they shouldn't be there.

In conclusion, I believe that education is key to promoting racial diversity and understanding. By embracing Critical Race theory, we can work towards a more inclusive future for all Americans. I also believe that it is possible to teach historical facts and current events regarding race in an academic setting without establishing a course for deeper learning on particular social activist communities. I believe that Identity Politics and Critical Race Theory are two distinct concepts that should not be intertwined in educational contexts. While I recognize the importance of exploring the experiences of marginalized communities, I believe that the primary focus of (CRT) should be on examining the ways in which race and racism intersect with the law and the administration of justice.

Sprinkling just a little bit of Identity Politics into a (CRT) curriculum can distract from the central goals and framework of (CRT), and lead to a distorted view of the subject matter in the eye of not only the public but, the law. It is therefore important for educators to approach the teaching of (CRT) with caution, and to be mindful of the ways in which Identity Politics might intersect with and impact the study of race and racism within a legal manner.