FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Much has been said in recent weeks about critical race theory and whether it should be taught in schools.
Critical race theory examines institutional racism, or how some have benefitted or have been constrained based on their race.
“The ultimate goal of this theory is to empower people by examining racial ethnic relations and social justice,” said Dr. Mieko Yamada, a sociology professor at Purdue Fort Wayne.
Dr. Yamada has taught critical race theory for more than 10 years. One of the biggest issues she has noticed when discussing this topic is that many get defensive when talking about race. Dr. Yamada argues it is necessary to have these conversations, even if the topic of race is uncomfortable.
“Doing nothing is also supporting racism,” Dr. Yamada said. “I understand it’s really difficult for people to talk about race and racism, but we have to talk about it because it is uncomfortable.”
This topic has been a hot-button issue for lawmakers in recent weeks. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, along with 19 other state attorneys general, urged the U.S. Department of Education to not adopt critical race theory for the classroom. In a letter addressed to the DOE, they argue that critical race theory interprets American history through a narrow prism of race.
“As such, (critical race theory) distorts, rather than illuminates, a proper and accurate understanding of our nation’s history and governmental institutions and, therefore, is fundamentally at odds with federal and state law,” they wrote.
Dr. Yamada pushes back on these criticisms of critical race theory, arguing that systemic racism is not exclusive to one race or demographic, that it affects everyone.
“It’s not only a minority group’s problem, but this is a problem that society as a whole has,” Dr. Yamada said. “So I think every racial ethnic group should engage in the same conversation.”
As of now, many school districts in Indiana do not teach critical race theory in their curriculum.