A student-activist’s report on the ban of Critical Race Theory in classrooms in Yorba Linda, California. — Editors
So much contention seems to surround the teaching and subject matter of Critical Race Theory across the United States today – yet its many critics cannot point to examples of it being taught in K-12 education or define what Critical Race Theory is. In Orange County, California, the Yorba Linda School Board’s decision to ban the theoretical framework was decided 3-2. One supporter of the ban, Leandra Blades, attended the January 6th Insurrection in support of the attempted coup. Like her, many on the right attack this university-level theoretical framework in a reactionary frenzy because, I believe, facing the realities of historical and ongoing subjugation of Black People in the United States (and the role they may or may not play in this) makes them uncomfortable. As Marxist-Humanists, we wholeheartedly reject this and similar bans across the country and support the teaching of the racially and economically oppressive history of the United States of America.
One student who opposed the ban was screamed at for hating their country and not knowing what racism is. Other students promised to fight to overturn the ban, and many more came out in opposition to it. Despite the defeat that may accompany this ban, there is solace to be found in the catalyst that the ban may provide to politically awaken many young people in Orange County. As an Orange County native who has gone through both private and public schools in the area, I can say that Critical Race Theory was never taught at any of the schools I attended despite the fact we need to be more thoroughly educated on the history of racial-capitalist exploitation in this country. What is also worrisome about this resolution is the wording that “no similar frameworks” to Critical Race Theory are allowed to be taught. The implication of this is potentially far-reaching: Orange County is very conservative relative to the rest of California. With active chapters of the KKK and the Proud Boys, education is one of the last lines of defense to diminish the right’s hold – and I believe this is why the ban happened in the first place.
Carrie Buck, the schoolboard’s president, notes the politically driven nature of this resolution and that Critical Race Theory was not taught in K-12 education prior to the ban. Returning to the January 6th Insurrectionist who sits upon the schoolboard, Blades argues that the ban is about getting politics out of schools – something laughable and absurd. How can one discuss history without discussing the history of slavery in this country and the politics that are inherently tied to it? Blades goes on to say parents ought to be the ones to educate their children on such matters, but I would ask her this: if no one is receiving this type of education, how can anyone teach the next generations about it? When proponents argue they are trying to preserve history, they are very clearly trying to substitute their whitewashed version of history as history. Pun intended. Education is not supposed to make one comfortable because, in reality, the history of capitalism is violent, inhumane, and – in a word – uncomfortable.
As Marxist-Humanists, we denounce this decision to censor the bloody and vile history of U.S. capitalism. As Marxist-Humanists, we must go further than to denounce and preserve the true history of race and class relations in this country. As Marxist-Humanists, we must understand that such contradictory statements and misunderstandings about race are manifestations of the capitalist class’ desire to divide workers and super-exploit our labor. As Marxist-Humanists, we must stand against injustices like this – whether they be related to economic conditions, racial inequities, gender disparities, sexual oppression, or infringements upon free thought, learning, and debate. Once again, we denounce the decision of the three who voted for this ban and will continue to fight against such bans to spread a vision of an alternative, anti-capitalist society.