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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: A Way To See Racism

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Koshu Kunii
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Unsplash

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision reversed the “separate but equal” doctrine and desegregated schools. We tend to hold that as proof that our nation turned around race relations and a true testament of our willingness to do what is right. But that is not the whole story.

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Our nation was also dealing with other realities that encouraged the decision besides simply doing the right thing: A highly effective Communist propaganda campaign questioning our notions of freedom and liberty; concern about possible domestic racial unrest from African Americans as Black GIs returning from WWII were met with continued discrimination, brutality, and even lynchings; and, Jim Crow segregation was a barrier to national economic growth.

In the wake of the decision, tens of thousands of Black educators lost their jobs. Black families bore the brunt of integration, going into schools that were hostile territory featuring White educators with low expectations, a curriculum absent of them, bullying, and White flight. And so many states refused to integrate it required the Supreme Court to pass the Brown II decision, demanding integration with all deliberate speed. All of this is true, and this was an example of a Critical Race Theory analysis.

CRT is not a form of diversity training but a form of analysis that centers the reality of race as fundamental to American life (Google the video racist origins of US law). What makes CRT uncomfortable is that it forces us to see past our assumptions to recognize how our laws and policies consistently leave non-Whites in collectively vulnerable positions. After all, if you do not look for something it will always be lost, even though it may be right in your face.

I am Joseph Flynn and that is my perspective.

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