Critical race theory has become the latest boogeyman haunting Republican politicians, who have in turn projected their fears onto the public schools. Is critical race theory creeping into the public schools? The Utah Legislature could not resist addressing the question. In May 2021, it passed HR901 and SR901. The authors of the bills stated that only “factual and objective” histories were to be taught in Utah schools. The State Board of Education felt compelled to get into the act. One board member even went so far as to propose a ban on words like “social change, empathy, inclusion, and social justice.”

Writing history is an exercise in the art of storytelling. Facts do not simply jump onto the page. Stories are shaded by the perspectives of the historians who tell them. My old American history book from the University of Utah told the following story about the slave trade. “The conditions of his (the slave’s) life represented a distinct advance over the lot that would have befallen him had he remained in Africa.” Whatever the virtues or vices of critical race theory, hopefully it will eliminate prejudicial statements like the one quoted above.

Stanley D. Ivie