Rashional Thoughts

Rashional Thoughts: What we’re learning about the critical race theory debate

Members of the Alabama Board of Education are in a debate about how to best handle allegations related to critical race theory and the state’s schools, according to the team at Alabama Daily News.

Some claim the concept is showing up in educational teaching plans, but State Superintendent Eric Mackey assured board members and the public during the July 13 meeting those accusations are not true.

“Critical race theory as it exists is a graduate-level concept. But it is not taught anywhere in any of our courses of study,” Mackey said, according to the July 15 Daily News.

The news about the school board’s dilemma reminded me of the current discussions surrounding CRT and the Southern Baptist Convention.

A growing number of Southern Baptists are concerned about the potential of any version of critical theory invading our denomination, and with the concern comes the potential for misinformation and mistrust.

You have likely noticed that The Alabama Baptist has done very little on the CRT debate, and that has been on purpose.

We are committed to providing clarity to situations and informing with only the facts and in proper context, not with emotion-packed phrases to influence your thinking.

And to be fully transparent, our team has had a difficult time truly understanding not only the full concept of CRT, but also the accusations surrounding its alleged role in the SBC.

Our concern has been that attempting to report on an issue we do not fully understand would do more harm than good.

As we continue to listen and learn, I can share what I think I understand so far.

  • The current SBC leaders — of all ethnicities, including our black leaders — have stated publicly that they do not advocate for CRT as a worldview.

Marshal Ausberry, previous past president of the National African American Fellowship, shared that “no one” he knows “fully embraces all of CRT.”

All six seminary presidents contend CRT is not being taught in the seminaries as a worldview but some noted the concept is explained as part of classwork related to understanding today’s culture and how those areas fit or don’t fit with the gospel.

  • Having a heart for finding unity among all races within our denomination, nation and world is not the same thing as CRT.

Hershael York, dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary, tweeted about this point following the SBC Annual Meeting: “… Southern Baptists do not like critical race theory but they also don’t like being told that caring deeply about racial reconciliation is CRT. They know the difference.”

We are sensing the initial reasoning behind the mention of CRT in SBC circles could have caused some to draw lines and pick sides over semantics rather than a true reason of concern.

  • The past two years of confusion and accusations have been difficult, but the journey also has helped us realize we need to have real conversations related to race and learn to hear each other’s stories.

It has been encouraging to hear from many of you who are ready for us to report on CRT — to know you want to make an informed decision on how to respond based on fact, not fear.

TAB Media staff honored by Alabama Press Association for reporting, video production, podcasting work

TAB Media brought home three awards during the 2021 Alabama Press Association Media Awards presentation in late June.

The awards are for work done in 2020 and were presented at a banquet on the final evening of the APA summer conference.

Competing with newspapers of similar size and scope across the state in APA’s Division C, TAB Media’s staff and correspondents earned awards for reporting, video production and podcasting.

  • First place for Best Podcast Series (division C) — TAB Talks weekly talk show-style podcast by Jennifer Davis Rash and Debbie Campbell
  • Second place for Best In-Depth News Coverage (division C) — In-depth report on Nigeria by Martha Simmons. Simmons developed a thorough report on persecution happening in Nigeria.
  • Second place for Best Use of Video, Shorter than 2 minutes (division C) — “Special Report on Disaster Relief” by Sam Evans

TAB Media sent a team of four reporters to Louisiana after Hurricane Laura devastated several areas in the state in 2020.

The team provided coverage for The Alabama Baptist and several other state Baptist papers.

Evans produced the special video report from footage captured while there.

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