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What is Critical Race Theory? A public discussion in Manitowoc

Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - Discussions answering the complex questions: what is critical race theory and what does it mean for our history books were posed to the people of Manitowoc today, July 25, by a group called Lakeshore’s United Visionaries. They are a new non-profit promoting diversity and will celebrate their one year anniversary as an organization on July 31.

One of the central themes of critical race theory or CRT is that race is a social construct and racism is more than individual bias but rather something embedded in our legal systems. Teaching the theory in schools has been heavily debated across the country. With the start of classes just about a month away, the conversation has come to Manitowoc.

“In school, we’re taught about Christopher Columbus and yes, we should learn about him but we should learn the opposite side of that history too,” the vice president of Lakeshore’s United Visionaries, Natasha Khan, said. “He didn’t exactly discover North America and there were indigenous people here who were thriving.”

There are many, but one definition of CRT is “a framework that offers researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers a race-conscious approach to understanding educational inequality and structural racism to find solutions that lead to greater justice,” according to Oxford’s Research Encyclopedia.

Sunday afternoon’s discussion hoped to raise awareness about what CRT is and what it is not.

“I know a little bit about it but not a lot,” Javier Mack, a Manitowoc CRT discussion attendee, shared. “That’s why I came here so that I could learn more about it.”

Critics of the theory say that it discriminates against white people in strides toward equality.

Manitowoc’s public school superintendent, Mark Holzman, shared with us that some parents have voiced concerns about CRT. The school board has not publicly responded to those worries however they have listened and will continue to. Holzman has reassured community members that critical race theory is not in elementary, middle, or high school classrooms with no future plans for it to be. CRT is typically a class or unit taught at the university or graduate level.

“When we look at history, I think we can all agree there are some pretty terrible things that happened throughout history,” a board member of Lakeshore’s United Visionaries, Patrick Neuenfedlt, said. “Is any one of us alive today responsible for those things that happened? No. But what we have is an opportunity to look at that and say how can we do better? How can we be better?”

You can learn about Lakeshore’s United Visionaries upcoming community events by visiting their Facebook page (click here).

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