• Donna Shannon

What is Theoretical About America's Long-Standing Critical Race Situation?

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

The uproar over teaching Critical Race Theory can only be because much of White America doesn't want to teach the truth.

When it comes to race, Black Americans have to hear comments from White people like, “We don’t owe any reparations; we didn’t have slaves” and “Slavery’s been over, just get over it.” They would never think of telling Jews to just get over their holocaust which, by the way, as horrific as it was, did not extinguish nearly as many lives as the Africans who died during the slave trade’s middle passage, hundreds of years of slavery in various countries and right here in the U.S., the ongoing murders and the thriving prison industrial complex but they feel very free to say this to Black Americans, as if we have no reason to complain because everything is okay with our lives now.

Along with the obvious ongoing murders and excessive prison sentences, there’s the financial side of things. Wealthy Whites bask in the comfort of the affluence they inherited, often from slave-holding ancestors or from the land that was given to their immigrant ancestors to give them a “leg up” in this country, while Black Americans were never given anything and continue to struggle for equal opportunities in employment, housing, bank loans, etc. Many of us have to rely on Dr. God for medical care. Nothing theoretical about it - that's just how it is.

And there are the inequities in public education. My greatest concern is Black children, particularly in elementary school. Every other racial/ethnic group advocates loud and proud for their school children, and they get results. When Black parents try to do the same, the children tend to be S.O.L. unless the parents are wealthy enough to bring in a lawyer if necessary. Black children's hearts and minds need to be protected since they grow up in a country where almost everything about life is structured to hold them down, make them feel unimportant and unworthy, and set them up to fail. This set-up starts in America’s public schools as early as kindergarten, even preschool. Government statistics show that little Black children are severely punished, suspended, and expelled far more often than White children. This is not “implicit” bias. This is racist bias, or explicit racism, plain and simple. There’s nothing theoretical about it - this is what Black children are faced with in public school every day.

America’s public schools mirror America’s society at large. Unequal treatment under the law – unequal treatment under school discipline policies. Unequal employment opportunities – unequal education opportunities. This is not theory, this is practice, and nobody should believe public schools don't realize what they're doing to Black children, especially the boys.

I advocated for my son all the way up to the U.S. Department of Education, documented in my book, Beyond Mis-Education. It was all to no avail, as everyone kept passing the buck. I homeschooled my son some semesters/years when the futility of public school was too much torture for him. Public school teachers did not succeed at making him frustrated and angry enough to "check out" from society or use his gifts to become a gifted criminal. But by not showing other children that he was appreciated as a positive example for them to aspire to be like, by confining his highly gifted mind to age-appropriate activities that bored him to distraction aand then treating him like something was wrong with him, by showing his classmates they literally did not like him, teachers set him up to be ostracized in school.

My son has long since stopped needing me to advocate for him, but I cannot forget what he went through, and what government and other statistics show still happens to so many Black children. Let’s take a look at some statistics…



That chart is too big to post here, but have a look. The stats don't lie, and they're screaming.



“By 2011, more than three million students a year were being suspended and nearly 250,000 were being referred to the police by their schools. And those harsh punishments were much more likely to impact minorities and students with disabilities.”



African American and Hispanic students are suspended or expelled at a rate almost 3.5 times greater than Caucasian students.




A study published in Educational Researcher found that overall, teachers hold a pro-white/anti-Black implicit bias. While this is less prevalent in teachers of color, more than 80% of teachers are white."

"… Black students represent 31% of school-related arrests and are 3x more likely to be suspended or expelled compared to their white peers. This process starts incredibly young: 50% of suspensions in preschool are Black children despite a report finding that Black students are misbehaving no more than other students."

"This 2013 study shows a decrease of 23% in students of color at top public colleges after an affirmative action ban took place.”



“Eighteen percent of the nation's public school students are black, but an estimated 40 percent of all students that are expelled from US schools are black.”

“Match this to the 61 percent of the incarcerated population that is black or Latino—despite the fact that these groups only represent 30 percent of the US population when combined... The road to lockup starts in the public school systems—and it starts with unfair punishment.”



"One in every 11 young black men is incarcerated in our country — a path that starts in our publlic schools, where black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, which vastly increases their chances of entering the juvenile justice system."

I know not all White Americans are evil racists who would like nothing better than to see Black Americans in chains again. Some really do see people as just people regardless of race. They’re nice to everybody. I have a few close White friends – at least I did before I started this blog. But to the “good” White Americans, I say you need to admit that the advantages you have in this country have been at the expense of Black Americans.

Even if you didn’t inherit wealth, you know that whatever you have achieved in this country was easier for you simply because White powers-that-be made it so for people with white skin. It’s no small thing that you can drive without fear of dying if a police officer or sheriff stops you. If you have a son, you don’t have to worry for him every day knowing white hate could take his life at any time. That situation alone is more cruel than all the employment and housing opportunities and reparations that we are owed but have always been denied.

If I seem angry, yes I am! I'm not stuck in a perpetually angry mindset, but I have been angry while writing this blog. I'm angry for Black children who have to grow up to be Black adults trying to survive in a country that is stuck on negative stereotypes against them and kills or imprisons a vastly disproportionate number of them. If you could read this blog and not understand my anger, you are part of the problem that perpetuates the inequities in this country. If you can fix your face to say to me that I should “get over it,” I say that you need to get over yourself.

My point to Black parents is that no matter how we ourselves might have been beaten down by public schools and White society in general, if we want to break the cycle for our children, we must be willing to get involved and advocate for their education. You don't need a college degree to do this. You need to pay enough attention to your child at home to know what his/her temperament really is, the preferred learning style (reading, hearing, hands-on activities), whether he/she learns fast or takes his/her time, what his/her interests are, and what the level of knowledge really is - advanced, average, or needs help to catch up (there are books and websites that can tell you what they're expected to know by grade level). Knowing (and being able to prove if necessary) these things about your child will help you advocate effectively - IF the teacher, counselor, administrator, or anyone else is open to what you have to say.

You should know whether your child is ahead of the game or needs extra help, before the school starts bombarding you with behavior labels and suggestions for Special Ed. (You won't likely be bombarded with suggestions for grade-skipping due to giftedness.) Sometimes Special Ed is legitimately needed, but you should probably get an evaluation by a certified professional not affiliated with public schools, and monitor your child's progress closely because too often kids are kept in Special Ed throughout their public school years. Special Education is supposed to be a temporary fix to get students working unassisted on age-appropriate grade level and return them to mainstream classes.

Elementary school is where lifelong damage to school children starts. Let the teachers and principal know you’re paying attention. Push past the intimidation and meet with teachers and administrators when you need to have your child's back. If your advocacy doesn't help your child's school situation, start looking into education alternatives. You don't have to figure things out by yourself; you can find individuals and organizations online that can help.

Bottom line: IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE TO TRUST BLACK CHILDREN TO AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND NOT MAKE A POINT OF FINDING OUT WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON THERE. If you love your children, you must actively monitor their education; advocate, and remove them from any toxic school setting that refuses to improve. If public school is not doing right by your child, don’t be afraid to homeschool – it’s not rocket science. You might need a high school diploma or GED, but you do not need a college degree. In any case, you cannot do worse than a public school that is killing your child’s interest in learning and killing his/her dreams for the future.

For the children

Donna Shannon


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