Let’s begin with an obvious truth: racism exists, it is wrong, and when expressed most destructively, it is disgusting. Further, there is no denying the effect of past events on current racial disparity (such as slavery, residential schools, and other atrocious North American examples of racist acts).
Suppose you are a person who believes the previous statements to be accurate (as the vast majority of us do). In that case, the push for the ‘Racial Equity in the Education System Act’ (Bill 67) may seem just, and forming a favourable opinion based on what Bill 67 appears to be is sensible and rational. But what the Bill appears to be is vastly different than what the Bill is, and when you look more deeply into what Bill 67 is, it becomes a potentially disturbing piece of legislation. I don’t pretend to understand all there is to know about CRT and what it means to implement it into our schools, but I have learned enough to be concerned. Whether my concerns are justified or not, I cannot know for certain. I hope you view this piece as being thoughtfully constructed in good faith by a father of three who takes these matters seriously. While I certainly express strong opinions in this post, they are only opinions, and I have done my best to be diplomatic. If you disagree with my concerns, educate me. If your instinct is to attack me for having a point of view, you should investigate why that might be. I will make the last point that I am not a person of colour. I can’t speak to the experiences and challenges that different races face in our education system, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so. I am only speaking to my concerns over what this Bill could mean or become, and I believe it is essential to have the conversation openly. With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move on.
In brief, Bill 67 will enforce an ongoing program of ‘anti-racist’ education (for both teachers and students) as well as enforce reprimand and punishment for “the use of socially constructed ideas of race to justify or support, whether consciously or subconsciously, the notion that one race is superior to another;”. Aside from the vagueness of what might qualify as a ‘subconscious expression of socially constructed ideas of race,’ the basic premise remains- at least conceptually- something people can stand behind. On the surface, it leads a person to think ‘racism is wrong, and expressions or acts of racism in schools should be discouraged. Therefore if I am against racism, I should support this Bill.” The aforementioned surface-level thinking, which is understandable and reasonable, is where the problem begins.
Those who are driving this Bill forward understand the power of their language to sell the act’s validity. Or stated alternatively, the Bill’s supporters can call any person who pushes back against its implementation a racist, immediately discouraging any opposition. Labeling any thinking dissenter as a racist, sexist, or bigot has been a concerning and effective tactic used by those on the far left. Bill 67 quickly became another example of this common abuse of language and manipulation of human decency. The significance of groundless racial smear tactics is precisely why Liberals and Conservatives have (so far) supported the Bill. Not because it will aid children or society, but to avoid being called racists or having their political images attacked.
The general public needs first to understand that Bill 67 is rooted in Critical Race Theory and the concept of Anti-Racism. Guiding voices in the CRT movement claim that not being racist isn’t enough, and to be ‘not racist’ is, in fact, racist. CRT thought leaders believe that to eliminate racism, we must invert discrimination back on non-minority populations. Ibram Kendi frequently voices illustrations of this nonsensical view. He suggests in one of his writings,
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
In other words, the only way to make up for the racist or discriminatory acts of the past is to turn discrimination around in the present or future against the ancestors of past oppressors. Sentiments like Kendi’s form the bedrock for what will be taught to our children from K-12 under this new act. Teachers will tell children that if you are a white child, you are inherently part of a racist system, and every advantage you have in life is because of the discriminatory acts of your white ancestors. Teachers will tell children of any other color that they don’t stand a chance in life unless society gives them a head start or some advantage beyond their natural determination or enthusiasm. Under the new model, children can be victims or perpetrators—nothing else.
Does that sound like an inaccurate caricature of Critical Race Theory? It isn’t. Here is another quote from the same CRT leader from his book, ‘How to Be Anti-Racist’:
“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.”
In other words, if you aren’t actively bringing one race down while simultaneously propping up another, you are, in fact, a racist. It’s not enough to see all human beings as equal or not hate or dislike a person based on the color of their skin. You have to be willing to play a game of advantages and disadvantages purely on the merits of skin color to no longer be a racist.
It should be evident that anti-racism is, in fact, a potential form of racism, and Critical Race Theory furthers the idea that skin color matters more than character. But since CRT proposes to create disadvantages for ‘white’ people or create advantages for ‘people of color’ as a way to right historical wrongs, it cannot be considered racist. I may not giving Critical Race Theory the most charitable assessment here, but the predominant view of CRT through rose coloured glasses is problematic. When it comes to what our children are mandatorily taught in schools, I’m concerned about the potential downside of Bill 67, not what it can be in the best-case scenario. Based upon what I have read and the sentiments of the most prominent voices in the CRT space, there is potential for CRT in schools to be destructive and a net-negative for children of all ethnicities and backgrounds. We are obsessively focused on the ideological upside when we should also consider potential downsides.
I understand and accept that race plays a factor in the advantages and disadvantages a person receives or faces in life. Without a doubt, minorities face discriminatory acts, both presently and due to historical treatment, which leave many at a negative starting point in life. I fully support implementing social programs and other forms of aid that attempt to right these wrongs and create equality. I would also like to see these forms of equality-driven aid implemented as early in life as possible through vital, publicly funded social programs. I fully understand the reality of generational trauma. Look no further than the effect residential schools have had on the ability of Aboriginal Canadians to succeed in modern society. The horrific acts by our Government on aboriginals have hurt this group in a way that is so significant it is difficult to overstate. What I don’t understand is how teaching children as young as kindergarten that they are born either at an advantage or disadvantage and therefore should feel guilt or victimhood based on their generalized ancestry is anything other than abusive. The fundamental basis of CRT goes well beyond general history lessons we could use to teach children the errors of the past and their effects. Instead, it points at children and says, ‘you’re an oppressor or ‘you’re a victim,’ and you cannot be self-actualized unless you allow the proper intervention.
My deeper concerns are
A- the mandatory teaching of these concepts being enforced by teachers, not parents, to children as young as 5-years-old
B- Government overreach through systems of regulation and punishment for race-based issues in the school system, and
C- Who gets to decide the curriculum, how it is taught, how it is trained, and the regulation and containment of gong outside the set parameters
I believe there is an age where race-based conversations are essential, even in school settings. Highlighting the current challenges for minorities that are due to historical events (slavery, residential schools etc.) should be a core focus of the history we teach in schools. In fact, I believe the record of residential schools in Canada and what they have done to the aboriginal population of our Country should have a prominent place in our teaching centres. But do I want my 5-year-old’s kindergarten teacher leading the conversation on systemic racism? Worse, do I want this education mandated with a curriculum in which I don’t have direct insight? That’s a hard no. It’s not the concept or sentiment that I take issue with; it’s the ages at which those pushing the Bill suggest we teach Anti-Racist concepts and the structure and bureaucratic legislation under which mandatory subject matter is being created. More parents should be concerned about these factors, and most parents have no idea that Bill 67 is on the floor.
There’s a big difference between acknowledging the existence of a social issue and wanting that social issue to be taught to your very young children or allowing the Government to further their grip on families and children through the school system. Parents should teach their primary-aged children about core values. Schools should be teaching children the basics of reading, writing, and appropriate socialization and interaction. As children exit the primary system and enter the secondary system (or perhaps the post-secondary system), they can become independent in their thinking and step into complex social topics. But this is a K-12 mandate we are talking about here, and most parents haven’t even heard of the Bill or Critical Race Theory let alone understand the implications. Parents are being consulted and we haven’t even seen a proposed curriculum.
The concept of holding the sins of previous generations against present ones is an awful idea. Yeonmi Park outlines in her book ‘In Order to Live,’ she outlines how the North Korean regime punishes the children and grandchildren of North Korean criminals for the offences of their parents or grandparents. If your father or grandfather went to prison for stealing, the regime will raise and treat you as a thief (even though you did not commit any crime).
According to the government’s three-generation rule, if you or your relative commits a crime, your entire family might also face punishment. For the next three generations. This law means that after the state convicts someone to a labor camp for breaking the law, their entire family will be sent to labor camps as well, and the following two generations must also spend their entire lives in labor camps. This state mandate even affects unborn children. North Koreans live in constant fear of this horrific punishment, so it works to ensure that crime stays at a minimum, and everyone is kept in line.
The average person will read about this modern caste system and see it as disgusting and wrong. Yet it is somehow appropriate, if not positive, to teach children they are responsible for sins of the past. Worse, under the CRT model, children aren’t only held accountable for the sins of their relatives. Children will be held to account for the sins of racial ancestors or the generalized past of their race as a whole. You are identified and punished by your ‘group’ or identified and labeled a victim by your ‘group’. How can you see the system of generational punishment in North Korea as wrong but the basis of CRT as appropriate?
Next, we get to teachers, who I empathize with, but can’t support if they go along with these actions. A major piece of Bill 67 is the mandatory ongoing education of teachers in Anti-Racism. Is the insinuation that teachers are racist or encourage racist behaviour in schools? This is the kind of accusation that should stir anger and resentment in a well-meaning educator. What kind of self-respecting individual accepts this allegation by enthusiastically agreeing with the implied need for anti-racist re-education? In my estimate, you must either be a self-loathing, closeted bigot or a coward to comply with this level of mandate without a fight. I don’t want to be needlessly offensive, but it is the only way I can make sense of the widespread tolerance of the ideas by our teachers. I, for one, don’t want either of those people- a closeted racist or a doormat- in a position to teach my children. I want strong, confident, capable leaders in our schools. I understand the psychological ultimatum the Government is giving to faculty members. “Either you see this transition as a positive thing and accept it, or you’re a racist.” I grasp that push back against this move would be risky and uncomfortable. Don’t think I haven’t contemplated the target I place on my back while writing this post. But like I will walk through the fire to stand up for my children, a teachers’ responsibility is to stand up for the kids in their classrooms. Unless there is a racist epidemic happening every day in schools around Ontario that I haven’t heard about, silently accepting this Bill does the opposite of supporting children. Just like how our local educators supported masking children for almost two years, even when the literature indicated masking had significant adverse effects on our kids, being neutral in this situation is a vote against child welfare.
To further highlight how unnecessary this Bill is, it will help to use violence as an analogy. While rare, violence in our schools is a real issue that collectively concerns us. How do teachers deal with acts of violence, from pushing and shoving to straight-up assaults? Do teachers require standardized ongoing training about ‘anti-violence’? Do educators speak about and train their children about the ‘victim/oppressor’ model of violence and tell kids they are either one or the other? Do children get fined by the school or Government for the subconscious expression of violence? No. Teachers are trusted to use their judgment and have free access to supportive resources that allow them to deal with matters of violence individually. And if the violence goes beyond the capacity of the teacher or school to handle, it is made a criminal matter, and the legal system takes over with due process. Why is this protocol not extended to matters of racism? Because this Bill is about control and the extension of woke ideologies directly into our K-12 system. It’s not about protecting children. It removes parents as the leaders of their children’s value system and outsources control to the ‘state’.
As a father, I don’t teach my children not to be racist by spending my day making race out to be the most significant factor to a person’s livelihood or character. This seems like an obvious rule for raising a child; to see people as equal and race as a non-factor. You certainly address, acknowledge, and explain racist situations (in an age-appropriate way) as they arise, like when your child first asks why people have different skin colors. Still, it can only be harmful to make race a central focus of raising and speaking to your child about the world’s prejudices. But as I mentioned- and as is clearly stated in Critical Race Theory- Bill 67 isn’t about teaching children equality or the shared value of human life. It is about punishing or victimizing children for their skin color while highlighting race as the most critical factor in all success measures, which is racist. I suggest you read Bill 67 in full, and if, as a parent, you share my concerns, it is time to speak up. The clock is ticking, and the genie will not go back in the bottle once the Provincial Government releases this stupidity into our school system.
I want to close by restating that I understand how the average citizen would view CRT in schools as a positive move and thus, support it. I hope you don’t consider this thread an attack on supporters but rather a challenge to think as deeply as possible on the issue. Good human beings support actions that externally express their inner values. If you support CRT in schools, it is likely because you believe racism is wrong, and any structure that prevents students of color from being harassed or disadvantaged should pass. If this were the case, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But that is not what CRT is, and those who are driving the Bill forward understand the manipulative language they are using to garner support. Under the outline of Bill 67, teachers will instruct children to identify as either sufferers or despots.
Additionally, the structure of mandatory initial (and ongoing) tutor training in Critical Race Theory sends the message that teachers do not have the natural tools, judgment, or sensibility necessary to manage discriminatory issues. What does this imply about our educators, and how does that leave teachers feeling? This isn’t as simple as ‘racism is bad, so this Bill is good.’
The third reading of Bill 67 is coming soon, and if, as a parent, teacher, or citizen, you are concerned about what such an action will do to our young people, our children, you must voice your concerns now. Reach out to your MPPs, MPs, and local educators and demand they take a stand against Bill 67 and the implementation of Critical Race Theory in our schools. We can always revisit the issue at another time or reform the structure of how we deal with issues of race in our education systems. If this Bill passes, however, there will be no going back.
Please stand up for all our kids regardless of their race, gender, identity, or socioeconomic status.