Critical race theory takes center stage in Pennsylvania in light of protest at its capitol


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WETM) – Across the nation is a battle unraveling between lawmakers, educators, and communities, warring about whether critical race theory should be taught at schools. Almost 100 people gathered at Pennsylvania’s state capitol protesting this controversial curriculum.

Critical race theory is defined as a concept that race is a social construct and racism is not just a bias or prejudice, but something that is embedded in American institutions and policies to press people of color. This concept of understanding inequality and racism in the U.S. has been around for decades.

“It isn’t just talking about racism per se, it is creating awareness about the negative impact that racism can have on people and how it impacts every aspect of their lives,” said Georgia Verdier, President of Elmira/Corning Branch of the NAACP.

Many lawmakers are arguing critical race theory should not be taught in schools. Several Pennsylvania Republicans are following the lead of other states and going as far as to support legislation that would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory and concepts related to racism in schools.

“We need to stop teaching things that divide us as Americans we need to talk about what unites us,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R- PA).

Seven states, including, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Arizona) have passed legislation against critical race theory in schools. This House Bill some PA Republicans are supporting is called the “Teaching Racial and Universal Equality Act.”

Teaching critical race theory in schools does not seem that different from any normal curriculum, Verdier told 18 News, “It is part of America’s history, teach it just like you would just teach anything else.”

Rep. Fred Keller thinks that the past is in the past, “Slavery was wrong… and as a nation, we addressed that issue, we abolished slavery in the 1800s…We have fixed the problems from the past, we need to look to the future.”

However, Verdier says that ignoring the problem is a tactic to brush the issue to the side and “pretend it’s not there.” But, she really does believe that citizens in America can come together to fix this issue.

“I think if people really fully understood it, would perhaps come on board with it…  I would ask them to open up their minds their hearts their eyes and their ears too and not just be afraid,” said Verdier  

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