LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Critical race theory is a phrase circulating in academia and now among several conservative lawmakers nationwide who are saying publicly they are against it.
Critical race theory, or CRT started with civil rights leaders as a way to examine certain laws created to oppress people of color and has evolved into an exploration of how racism impacts all professions, according to two psychologists writing a book on critical race theory
Governor Ron DeSantis wants to ban it from being taught in Florida schools. In March he called it an unsubstantiated theory. Instead, he wants to invest $106 million in civics curriculum.
But, the Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil says the country hasn’t made enough progress to do away with CRT.
“We’re not at a point yet in America, where race - America’s race neutral, or we’re living in a colorblind society,” he said.
The most obvious example shows up on this very day - marking the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white man who was a police officer at the time.
Muwakkil says although Floyd's death did not happen in Southwest Florida, and we did not see the unrest other parts of the country witnessed after his murder, Southwest Florida hasn’t made enough progress to avoid CRT.
But, DeSantis says CRT is counterproductive to the country’s progress.
"Teaching kids to hate their country and hate each other is not worth one red cent," he said.
Muwakkil says he agrees with the governor to an extent - that hate shouldn’t be taught. However, he says children are usually not introduced to racism or hatred at school.
“it’s taught at the kitchen table. It’s taught sitting on the front porch,” he said.
Lee County School Board Member Gwyn Gittens says CRT could help students and adults understand the achievement gap between different races even today.
“If we look at the achievement and say, some students are not learning as well. Then, you look at the data, and say which students? And look at why,” she saiid.
According to the Florida Department of Education, 32 percent of black students in lee county are in the lowest tier for reading; compared to 13 percent of white students in the county.