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John L. Horton lives in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to the newspaper.
John L. Horton lives in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to the newspaper.
John L. Horton lives in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to the newspaper.

Local Voices

One Man’s Experience With CRT

By John L. Horton

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
– George Santayana (Spanish Philosopher)

***

As the saying goes: “You learn something ‘new’ everyday…” Just imagine all that. In just the past several days, I have watched the SHOWTIME documentary series: “everything’s gonna be all white…” Basically, this is a provocative new three-part documentary series that explores the history of race in America from the perspective of people of color.

This documentary series explores ‘who gets to be an American, despite being a nation of (mostly) immigrants?” Furthermore, the documentary series challenges white fragility and supremacy with historical facts and cultural experiences. This documentary series is a foundation, culmination and reinforcement for the various facets, challenges and complications that Critical Race Theory (CRT) represents.

On 20 September, I celebrated my 81st birthday. I retired after a 30-year (15 October 1958 to 1 November 1988) career as a Marine Corps sergeant major, a Vietnam combat veteran with a 100 percent disability rating.

As an Octogenarian in my twilight years, I have been “living” Critical Race Theory (CRT) all my life…all 81 years of it… Inasmuch, I find CRT is being used as a “boogey-man” and “red herring” by some.

They say CRT is being utilized to make some whites feel guilty about America’s cultural and racist history. However, I find it interesting that CRT is not taught in public schools, but it is a course prescribed for and implemented in law schools. Basically, CRT is an endeavor to make classrooms and instruction even more equitable and inclusive.

Considering everything, I have experienced some form of CRT for the eight decades of my life: For example, I am listed as “Colored” on my birth certificate, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Due to “legal” segregation, I lived and was raised in all-Colored neighborhoods and communities…no whites or other ethnic groups around…

I was only allowed to attend all-Colored public schools. I joined the Marine Corps, sworn in by race (Blacks separate from others) in Nashville, Tennessee, October 15, 1958. Blacks were “restricted” for USMC/military jobs until around 1963, or thereabouts, when most USMC/military jobs were made available to all eligible Marines.

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Even though in the military and serving my country, local civilian communities were fully segregated in the South, and some other places… Public transportation and hotel accommodations were lawfully segregated and strictly enforced… (Sitting in the back of the bus and relegated to “Colored” train cars, and restricted to only hotel/motel accommodations that served “Colored” people…)

During this era (1940s – 1960s), in the South and some other places, Blacks could not drink from the same water fountains, use store dressing rooms, patronize public parks, golf and tennis courts, and recreation centers, sit in the same parts of movie theaters, concerts, festivals, or swim in the same public pools…

All in all, I and many others (on both sides of these issues) are becoming older, and it will not be too much longer before “we” are gone from the history and memory of this time and age. However, “we” must record and remember this age and era, so that “we” can all learn, grow and benefit from this so-called “CRT,” and its value and significance. Now is the time that we need to ensure that these kinds of mistakes and mishaps never happen to any of us, again, not ever…

It truly amazes me that some people find CRT to be insensitive and unfair because they are made to feel “guilty,” and have their feelings hurt. Many of these same people were the “perpetrators” and “aggressors” against others during the CRT era. And now, somehow they want all of this “true” history to be denied, ignored and/or falsified…so that they can feel better about themselves…As a counterpoint to all this, I shall continue to use LUCK (Living Under Correct Knowledge) in my overall existence.

Let me say it again: CRT is not being taught in our K-12 schools. Mostly, in the past, we have not taught or learned our true/full national history, inclusively and responsibly. Only if we learn from our past, can we understand our present, and improve upon our future. As has been said: “Those who don’t know (true) history are destined to repeat it,” especially its mistakes and misgivings…

In summary, I find this time and place to be an excellent venue and opportunity for sharing “One Man’s Experience With Critical Race Theory,” during Black History Month (February, 2022). Overall, I have found myself going from a history of enslavement to a future or empowerment. In the final analysis, it is what it is: To be or not to be…

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