Reimer, Castagno, Ononuju Interview – Podcast February 28, 2022

Critical Race Theory According To The People Who Teach It. Steve Williamson and Sedona City Councilor Holli Ploog welcome Dr. Francis Reimer, Prof. Angelina Elizabeth Castagno, and Dr. Ijeoma Ononuju, all of Northern Arizona University to discuss the now controversial topic of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

For those unfamiliar with CRT, Ploog notes that it emerged from a book published in 1973. To be clear, it has never been taught in K-12 schools. It is only taught in law schools and in graduate level education. But, as Reimer points out, “It’s a very loud manufactured concern that has gained traction. But just because it’s manufactured, doesn’t mean it’s not a concern,” she warns. “We have to remember that it has stirred up a lot of parents.”

That is only because a rightwing activist searching for a political wedge issue used it to get the attention of a Fox News host and, eventually, the former president. “It’s all, I think we can argue, part of a campaign to erode the public schools,” says Reimer.

Castagno notes that it is one of multiple explanations for why inequality exists. “Critical Race Theory says that racism is everywhere. And that makes people uncomfortable. When we’re faced with a set of ideas that say, maybe your success is not just because of your hard work, maybe it’s also because laws, policies, systems have also made the starting line not even. That makes us uncomfortable. Because then I start to think maybe it was not just my hard work.”

Ononuju cuts to the heart of the controversy. “It’s the same thing we saw in Tucson ten years ago. Right? We don’t want our minority students to learn more about themselves and their relationship that is not in line with the Disney everything-is-rosy-and-beautiful understanding of our relationship with America. And that’s where a lot of this sentiment is coming from.”

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