Tulsa Race Massacre leads to conversation about Critical Race Theory education

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tulsa Race Massacre is a moment in history that experts say is often overlooked. One century ago, what was known as “Black Wall Street” was destroyed by a white mob and up to 300 black people were killed. It was a very grim time in American history but a piece of history that experts say should not be overlooked.

“Can’t really have any racial reckoning in our society, if we don’t face up to that extreme brutality to our past, we are still living out that legacy today,” said Dr. Nolan Cabrera, an associate professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Cabrera has taught Critical Race Theory. He said teaching students about racial violence, inequality and historical events, like the Tulsa Race Massacre, is vital to promoting change.

“It’s just going to be the perpetuation of more of the same. They’re going to be actually the next generation enacting that said violence and said neglect on communities of color in the process,” he said.

Dr. Cabrera and Dr. Sonja Lanehart, a professor at the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said teaching Critical Race Theory is often met with opposition.

“When you try to disrupt the status quo, you are doing something unamerican without understanding that America is nothing without all the people that make it up,” she said. ”Who is against learning about the full history of this country?”

They said Critical Race Theory is rarely taught in K-12 education but is a course more commonly taken in college and especially for students studying law or education.

“Everything that we are doing is to expose racism and make it known for people so that they can tackle the institutional and systemic nature of it. They can’t do that if they don’t understand it and they don’t learn about it,” Lanehart said.

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