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Letters to the Editor: Structural racism in America is a demonstrable truth. Schools need to teach that

People protest against the teaching of critical race theory in Reno, Nevada.
People protest against the teaching of critical race theory outside a Washoe County School District board meeting in Reno, Nev.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: Thank you for the powerful editorial on the miasma of misinformation that’s being deployed to delegitimate the teaching of ethnic studies by linking the subject to the bogeyman of critical race theory. I’d like to respond both as a professional historian and as a white woman who grew up in California.

The idea that racism is baked into many of our institutions is demonstrably true. For example, scholars have documented that from the time the federal government began to try to make home ownership more accessible to (white) Americans during the 1930s, the policies were always tailored to exclude Black people. This was accomplished with the infamous practice of red-lining.

Over the decades, this has had a huge impact on the ability of Black people to accumulate generational wealth.

Speaking as someone who went all through school with very little history about anyone but white men, I can say that I was deprived. I’ve devoted my years of graduate work in American history, followed by years of teaching and research, to rectifying that omission.

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The good news is that I had parents — Republicans — who gave me opportunities to learn about injustice. For example, my newspaper editor dad took me to see a farm labor camp in the Central Valley when he needed to cover a strike. This exposure didn’t traumatize me; rather, it motivated me.

Glenna Matthews, Laguna Beach

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To the editor: As someone who has been teaching high school U.S. history for 60 years, I cannot agree with your editorial on critical race theory.

The curriculum has always included slavery, the Civil War, the failure of Reconstruction, segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, the civil rights movement and the advances and continuous struggles since. What I don’t do is teach from a negative point of view.

For example, I tell my students that more white Americans voted for Barack Obama than John Kerry. I talk about the 2 million Black Africans and thousands of people from Haiti who have come to the U.S. in the last 20 years.

You cite an ethnic studies draft curriculum that said capitalism is a form of oppression. This idea ignores the fact that capitalism has raised more people out of poverty in this country and around the world than any other economic system. You also note the draft curriculum’s comments on Israel.

No wonder so many parents oppose teaching our students critical race theory.

Jerry Freedman, Los Angeles


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