Who’s Afraid of Big, Bad Critical Race Theory In Vermont?

Essex-Westford School Board Member Liz Cady and Fellow Trump Republicans

Our nation’s seminal founding document, The United States Constitution, enshrined the concept that people of color, captured, enslaved and forcibly brought to this continent against their will, were less than fully human. Recall the Three Fifths “compromise.” For those not fully awake during high school Civics or now struggling with fading memories from their youth, the Constitution enshrined forever in infamy that our country was based socially and economically on the ownership of formerly free humans from Africa.

The United States Supreme court held that those pesky, freedom loving slaves who dared to think of themselves as beings entitled to the same inalienable human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as most male White citizens were nothing more than property owned by the economic elite of the Old South. Not even Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation could legally free them. Lincoln had no legal authority to deprive a slave owning citizen of his property without due process of law. Hence the necessity for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

From there we grew as a nation. Our growing nation also grew its racism in myriad ways. Jim Crow. Separate but equal. Poll taxes. Literacy tests to vote. All white juries delivering “justice” to murderers of colored folks who dared to dream and seek what was theirs as human beings. Lynchings. Beatings. Drowning with an industrial fan around one’s neck. White supremacists marching in Charlotte — -good people according to a President named Trump.

What is Critical Race Theory? Let’s cut to the chase. CRT is an examination of how racist practices, past and present, have created and perpetuate some of the darker aspects of American life in the 21st Century. CRT no doubt makes many of our fellow citizens, including some Vermonters, uncomfortable. Why? Because some folks have had social and economic advantages gifted them by the color of their skin at birth.

That brings us to the battle lines drawn this week in Vermont between those willing to look at our past and present lives as privileged White people and those like Liz Cady and her supporters. Yes, this is the same Liz Cady who reportedly helped organize a sojourn of Vermonters to our nation’s capital last January 6th to support the Big Lie that Heir Trump didn’t really lose the election to Stuttering Joe Biden and that pesky Asian-African woman with the white sounding last name. Rather than acknowledge and deal with the past and present to create a more just society for all amongst us, “leaders” like Liz Cady, fellow Republicans in Vermont and throughout the US seek to bury or rewrite the past for the benefit of the privileged few.

How best to bury the past and maintain the status quo? It’s easy. Dumb down the population by restricting what can be taught and critically examined in our public schools. Ignorant people are more easily manipulated by the politics of fear. Create, stoke and maintain fear of “The Other” is all you have to do to get elected when the electorate is ignorant. Screw higher thinking skills. Ya don’t need them to gain and maintain power in 21st Century America. Cady’s desire to ban CRT from Vermont’s schools is understandable and utterly reprehensible.

For more on this developing situation see:

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Ava Lafferty

Ava Lafferty

Trans-woman. Semi-retired lawyer and educator. LGBTQ+ advocate. Resident of the Green Mtn. State