By SEASON CRAVEN
Critical Race Theory has been at the forefront of the recent national discussion on education and racism, and now an AC professor has joined the conversation by writing her own controversial book.
Dr. Mary L. Dodson is a professor in the English department and teaches Freshman Composition I and II, Masterworks of Literature, American Literature and Non-Western Literature, according to the AC website. Her first book, titled “Critical Race Theory Versus God’s Divine Law: Making a Choice,” was published in August 2021.
Defining Critical Race Theory, or CRT can seem elusive in the current contentious political environment. Even the definitions themselves can contain bias.
Britannica.com defines it as, “Critical race theory is an intellectual movement and a framework of legal analysis according to which (1) race is a culturally invented category used to oppress people of color and (2) the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, political, and economic inequalities between white and nonwhite people.”
The Associated Press reporter, Bryan Anderson, defines CRT this way, “Critical Race Theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism,” Anderson said.
“It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society, ” Anderson said.
With even the definition of CRT being contested, it is clear that the topic can be contentious. “CRT is controversial because some believe that focusing on race and marginalized groups of people is necessary in order to fight racism,” said Becky Easton, AC dean of liberal arts. “They believe that more must be done to right the wrongs of the past and thereby fix the present,” Easton said.
“Others believe that racism is best overcome by giving individuals of all colors the same opportunity to make the most of their own God-given abilities and that seeing ‘all aspects of American life’ through a lens focused on race is counterproductive to the cause of equality,” Easton said.
Dodson explained that she chose to write about the topic because it related to other areas she had studied. “CRT is much in the news and harkens to decades ago when I was working on my doctorate and studying Deconstructionism taught by an admittedly Marxist professor,” Dodson said.
“I have a friend in the northeast who is confronting it in public education, so I started paying attention. The more I researched the topic, the more I realized that if one believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God, the conflicts are deep,” Dodson added.
The subject of CRT can be confusing and divisive, which is why Dodson urges others to think for themselves. “My intent was to point out the contrasts between two worldviews. This required a complex investigation; thus, the questions you asked can best be answered for the individual by reading the book and making an individual choice,” Dodson said.
While the debate over CRT continues, students at AC have also joined the conversation. “I do not feel Critical Race Theory accurately reflects all aspects of society. I do believe there are people who make decisions and exclude certain people groups based on race, but not to the degree it is embedded in legal decisions, and not to the degree it occurred in previous eras of history,” said Elizabeth Chunn, an online marketing major.
Melinda Pontruff, a business management major, disagrees. “It is important to learn that racism is far more than an individual person and their thoughts or actions,” Pontruff said. “Racism is built and bolstered by a society that refuses to acknowledge the ways our practices and laws provide continuous oppression,” Pontruff said.