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Critical Race Parenting: Race Essentialism for Kids
By now most people have heard of Critical Race Theory (CRT):
Critical race theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary examination, by social and civil-rights scholars and activists, of how laws, social and political movements, and media shape, and are shaped by, social conceptions of race and ethnicity. - Wikipedia
CRT started off being taught in obscure college degrees and takes a race essentialist approach towards analyzing how all aspects of the world operate. Thus, despite the various convoluted definitions that exist, CRT can be summed up as “Race Essentialism.” The theory has graduated from the college classroom and has made its way through large corporations, mainstream media and entertainment, and even into children’s classrooms.
Parents have answered the call and have been steadfast in their desires to push back against CRT-inspired race essentialism in their children’s classrooms. However, despite extensive reporting from Christopher Rufo, the claim of whether CRT is even for children or being taught in schools has been contested. Enter Critical Race Parenting (CRP).
Analyzing these articles made a few things clear:
Critical Race Parenting is derived from Critical Race Theory
Race Essentialism is being marketed toward children
The scope of parenting is not limited to the child’s family
Critical Race Parenting (aka ParentCrit or CRP) is defined as “an educational praxis that can engage both parent and child in a mutual process of teaching and learning about race, especially ones that debunk dominant messages about race.” CRP is derived from Critical Race Theory. The definition also gives our first admission that CRP, and by extension CRT, can be used to engage with kids.
The research methods used in the articles included counterstories and autoethnography.
Autoethnography (sometimes called mesearch) is essentially writing about your personal experiences and attempting to extrapolate generalizations of the world based on those experiences.
Counterstories are alternative narratives used to trouble what are commonly understood as monolithic factual stories, designed to expose, analyze, and challenge narratives and privileged characterizations
Both methods are fairly anecdotal in their approach in that they extract personal stories from a human subject and attempt to make generalizations based on the extracted narratives.
The above screenshots give another admission by stating:
A tenet of CRP is “the continued learning and growing towards social justice in both parent and child.”
“The counterstories will be written so that both children and adults can understand them.”
The latter is particularly interesting for it indicates that not only is Race Essentialism being distilled into classroom formats for young kids, but the root literature itself can also be written with children in mind.
“Whiteness” is defined as something that promotes white supremacy.
White parents are accused of parenting their children into racism.
This sets the stage for another astonishing takeaway from reading the CRP papers:
Parenting is no longer a process, under the views of CRP, that happens exclusively between children and their parents. The way these scholars think racial parenting should be done is equally alarming.
One of the counterstories indicates that by the age of four children raised under Critical Race Parenting had extensive racial vocabularies; this indicates that the racial teachings had begun far sooner if, already, by the age of four the children mentioned in the article had been imbibed with racial vocabulary.
The other paper shares a story where a “White Presenting” young boy was gifted a Black Panther costume and was discouraged from wearing it to school around Halloween time on the basis of his skin tone. Despite the various red flags, Race Essentialism has been supported by teachers’ unions and materials for children of all ages are being developed for classrooms with the Arizona Department of Education claiming racism can even be detected in babies.
The above graphic which was shared by the Arizona Department of Education shows CRP in practice by offering a potential timeline for a child’s relationship with race; it is used by many organizations including the Children’s Community School which has the graphic on its website. The Children’s Community School website explains that their primary program is a preschool servicing children between 18 months to 5 years old.
From a young age, Critical Race Parenting begins injecting Race Essentialism into children. An obvious concern with CRP is whether immense racial messaging can result in learned helplessness. Regardless, it is clear that Critical Race Parenting, being an extension of Critical Race Theory, has children in mind which disproves the notion that “CRT is not for children” and indicates a lack of respect for boundaries parents may set around their children. When wondering if parents should adopt the tenets of CRP, it is important to ask: “Is it healthy to impart Race Essentialist values into children?” If your answer to the prior question is no, then rejecting Critical Race Parenting, Critical Race Theory, and other forms of Race Essentialism is the logical response.