Issue: Critical race theory is critical


Editorial Board

House Bill 1012, a bill designed to “protect students and employees at institutions of higher education from divisive concepts,” passed in the House yesterday and now awaits Gov. Kristi Noem’s signature.

While never specifically using the term “Critical Race Theory,” or CRT, Noem’s Twitter account referred to the bill as an initiative to “ban CRT from K-12 classrooms and higher education.” 

The bill outlines what South Dakota politicians view as divisive concepts, which include language claiming:

That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin is inherently superior or inferior

That individuals should be discriminated against or adversely treated because of their race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin

That an individual’s moral character is inherently determined by their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin

That any individual, by vitue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously

That any individual, by virtue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, are inherently respinsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin

An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin

Meritocracy or traits such as a strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.

While these ideas on their own might seem to be rightfully banned, this bill was not created to protect BIPOC individuals from adverse treatment; it was created so white people won’t have to come to terms with the more shameful history of this country. 

These “divisive concepts” allow people to learn about the truths of history in an unfiltered setting that students in South Dakota don’t get in primary school. College is where people can finally start learning about the real world. We’re at a mature enough age where we can critically think about the repercussions of history, and know that when the horrors of our ancestors are brought up, we do not own their actions, but we do benefit from them.

This bill protects white people from their fragility around facing the privilege they have and how they are at an inherent advantage due to the systems put in place. 

 By learning the white-washed version of history, of the enslavement of black people and the colonization of Indigenous people, it distances you from the systems that were built on oppression. They still exist today. Will college students still be able to learn about the intricacies of the prison industrial complex, the wage gaps for minority women and how the very land this university sits on is the ancestral territory of Lakota people? Will they learn how, depending on your race, these ideas will determine who gets a job and how you’re treated in society? 

In four years or less, we will all be entering the workforce; some of us may serve as lawmakers; some will be teachers ourselves. In order to make actual changes to these systems, to tear them down because they oppress others, people need to know about how it starts and how their race fits into that narrative.