I applaud Helen Sabin’s efforts to get parents really involved in public education in the Valley, but I don’t buy the anxiety about CRT (Critical Race Theory) and SEL (Social Emotional Learning; see the “Bitterroot Star” for 9/29/21). She apparently regards them as practically conspiracies against our children but is in fact the unwitting victim of real conspiracies herself.
1. CRT has been around academia and the legal community for over 40 years. It considers how racism, while undoubtedly embraced knowingly or unknowingly by some individuals, has actually been part of our governing, social, and legal systems from the very beginning, which explains why non-white people in general continue to be disadvantaged in our society and culture.
For example, If we read original documents, such as the articles of secession of the Confederate states, instead of history textbooks, which are part of the system, we learn that yes, the Civil War was indeed about states’ rights, but specifically about each state’s right to continue slavery.
Another example: the GI Bill of 1944 was enacted to help veterans returning from World War II, but it was structured in such a way that few of the 1.2 million Black veterans (who served in segregated ranks) were able to take advantage of it.
So much of America’s historical and enduring economic prosperity was based on chattel slavery for so long that it’s understandable that money-makers in the South and also in the North did not want it to end. But it is inhuman and based on the false but prevalent idea that there is such a thing as “race.”
In fact, science and historical research have long since established that all human beings originated in the same place and simply changed somewhat in appearance, usually adapting to geographical conditions like climate. It has been to white people’s economic advantage to push false ideas.
Again, if we consult original historical documents instead of history textbooks, we see that our textbooks have consciously or unconsciously glorified white people all along, and that has affected the quality of life for everyone.
2. A bit of research shows that SEL is not an insidious brainwashing technique, but an effort to take into account that while intellectual learning is important, without recognition of the role of emotional and social intelligence in a person’s life, that person cannot be whole and a full and responsible participant in a family, a community, a society.
Take mindfulness as an example. It’s been a buzzword for quite a while now and may have started amidst the growing interest in meditation in the 1960s and ‘70s. It has proven to be so useful that a lot of businesses encourage some training in it these days. Why? Because mindful individuals are more aware of what is going on in themselves and in others — how we all work — and thus can be more conscious and intentional in what they do. It’s not weird; it’s just paying attention to your breathing (or not; there are various helpful techniques) and what’s going on in your head.
No one is free if they fall for conspiracy theories, and the Republican Party has pushed conspiracy theories via loud words, sound-bites, and acronyms since they began to realize last century that American voters who think clearly and research fairly are less liable to vote for ideas and programs that support business and the wealthy. That’s why the Republican Party continues to try to gerrymander and push through restrictive voting laws, not least in our own state of Montana.
We don’t have to fall for it.
For more about how the Montana Republican-led legislature is less interested in fairness and freedom than in maintaining power, see the guest column “Montana Republicans don’t trust voters’ decisions” in the “Bozeman Daily Chronicle” for 9/29/21.
Mary Fahnestock-Thomas, Hamilton