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Former Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized on Wednesday the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools, saying that white children don’t need to be made to feel bad about their race in order for black children to feel “empowered” about theirs.
Rice, who was the first black woman to lead the State Department, was invited to ABC’s The View to discuss with the panel divisive issues in the current political landscape, with the teaching of CRT in schools being one of the most contentious.
During her remarks, Rice recalled growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, while there was still true racial segregation in public life, where she could not go to restaurants or movies with her parents because of her skin color.
“I went to segregated schools until we moved to Denver,” Rice recalled. “My parents never thought I was going to grow up in a world without prejudice, but they also told me: ‘that’s somebody else’s problem, not yours.’ You’re going to overcome it and you are going to be anything you want to be.’ And that’s the message that I think we ought to be sending the kids,” she continued.
The former U.S. diplomat said she felt concerned about the way race is being addressed in schools, given that, in her impression, white children are taught to feel guilty about what happened in the past while black children are made to feel “disempowered” because of their skin.
“I would like black kids to be completely empowered, to know they are beautiful in their blackness, but in order to do that I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white,” Rice said. “So, somehow, this is a conversation that has gone in the wrong direction.”
Rice vs. The View hosts
The hosts of The View wanted to debate Rice’s stance on teaching CRT in schools and how the history of slavery and racism is being taught in schools.
First, Whoopi Goldberg questioned the role of parents in education programs and whether CRT was really being taught in schools.
“One of the key issues up for debate is how much of a voice parents should have in their child’s school curriculum, especially when it comes to subjects like sex education and Critical Race Theory,” Goldberg said. “I thought they didn’t teach Critical Race Theory in schools until they went to like law schools or something,” she continued.
“I sure hope not, because I’m not certain 7-year-olds need to learn it,” Rice quickly responded.
Joy Behar asserted that parents should not interfere with schools regarding the subject a teacher can teach, and suggested that those parents who disagree with the school curriculum should homeschool their children.
Rice’s response was also quick and to the point: “Well, they’re actually homeschooling them in increasing numbers and I think that’s a signal.”
“First of all, parents ought to be involved in their children’s education,” Rice continued. “I think parents ought to have a say. We used to have parent-teacher conferences. We used to have PTAs. There are lots of ways for parents to be involved, and they should be.”
Goldberg interjected once again to say that if an educator is good at his or her job, he or she would simply teach children about troubling racial history in the hopes that it won’t be repeated.
“I have no problem with letting people know what happened, but let’s remember history is complex. Human beings aren’t angels now and they weren’t angels in the past,” Rice responded to Goldberg. “And so how we teach about our history is also important.”
With a bit more seriousness and in a more confrontational tone, panelist Sunny Hostin wanted to challenge Rice by claiming that some parents were trying to prevent their children from learning the “real” history of the United States and reaching a point of “true racial reconciliation.”
To which Rice responded, “People are being taught the true history, but I just have to say one more thing: It goes back to how we teach the history.”
“We teach the good and we teach the bad of history,” Rice continued. “But what we don’t do is make 7- and 10-year-olds feel that they are somehow bad people because of the color of their skin. We’ve been through that, and we don’t need to do that again for anyone.”
When Hostin questioned Rice about how white children are made to feel guilty in schools, panelist Sara Haines had common ground with the former secretary of state, mentioning several examples and saying, “It’s happening across the country.”