Just east of Zionsville, Unify Carmel has mobilized to oppose the imagined introduction of critical race theory in Carmel Clay Schools and the actual hiring of a diversity, equity and inclusion officer who, in the organization’s view, supports teaching about structural racism. According to Unify Carmel, CRT and DEI initiatives suppress free speech and threaten academic excellence.
In predominantly white suburban town after town, CRT has become the new bogeyman, grossly misrepresented to local communities by out-of-town political operatives (in registration documents, Unify Carmel lists the address of a Chicago law firm as its principal office).
Those who oppose CRT object to the assertion that our social policies and legal practices have and continue to advantage some communities over others, and that this systematic privileging is a kind of racism. But the assertion that social and legal practices can advantage some communities over others is beyond dispute. The discriminatory natures of certain practices (e.g., slavery, Jim Crow laws) are quite obvious, while the adverse effects of others are more insidious (and lead, for example, to Black male offenders receiving sentences 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated white offenders).
Trying to muzzle and prevent history and social studies teachers from dealing with such issues is the real suppression of free speech and threatens the excellence of our schools.
DEI initiatives rightfully ask us to examine our past and present policies, identify where they prevent equitable access to the American Dream, and then correct course. This request is not a divisive or unpatriotic one, as Unify Carmel and organizations like it would have us believe.
We teach our children to examine their lives, learn from their mistakes, make amends and do better. Good governments, good societies and good school districts do the same. May Zionsville’s be among the best.