Juneteenth is set to become an official federal holiday. We should all applaud this milestone in American history, which marks the date the last slaves in the Confederate states were freed, as a chance to celebrate our progress and teach our children to rise above the past.

The liberal agenda, however, would rather ignore progress and exploit race to divide Americans for the purposes of acquiring power, exerting control, and silencing opposing viewpoints.

Critical race theory (CRT) serves as a useful tool to achieve those ends, no matter how destructive it is to social cohesion. Parents are right to be outraged that CRT has infiltrated schools.

To really honor Juneteenth and our collective march toward greater equality, CRT should be stamped out of society, not rubber stamped by government.

On Wednesday, a federal bill declaring June 19th as a federal holiday passed the U.S. House of Representative nearly unanimously and is now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature. Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) commemorates the day in 1865 that freedom finally came to slaves in Galveston Bay, Texas.

Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing all slaves from bondage in Confederate states, it took two-and-a-half years for freedom to come to all people. In the western area of Texas, slaves did not know they were liberated until 2,000 Union troops arrived with the good news.

Over the years, Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black American families and communities. The holiday has gained increased attention recently by the current social justice movement using the holiday to protest police brutality toward blacks.

It is critical that we recognize such milestones on our journey toward legal and social equality, especially since, despite tremendous strides in terms of race relations, we are up against a new enemy that seeks to reverse this progress and poison black children to believe that they cannot achieve great things because of their race.

The pernicious ideology of critical race theory is reinforcing divisions, replacing meritocracy with preferential treatment, and rejecting equality in pursuit of equity. It is embraced by policymakers from President Joe Biden on down to local school officials.

This year, Juneteenth comes amid widespread pushback from lawmakers and parents against critical race theory being taught in schools. CRT defenders like a New York Times writer are peddling the falsehood that because conservatives want to prohibit the teaching of CRT, teachers cannot even explain what Juneteenth is. This is not only patently false, but it wreaks of a desperate attempt to smear the legitimate grievances parents have about what their children are learning.

Critical race theory is an academic discipline that views every aspect of life through a lens of race. People are not viewed as individuals imbued different gifts and abilities, thoughts, and experiences, but simply members of a racial group. It holds that America is inherently racist, its laws and institutions are tainted by racism, and that people of color, especially blacks, are oppressed while whites are all oppressors.

CRT erects a racial hierarchy with whites sitting atop all others.

According to this power structure, white people use their perceived privilege and the laws and institutions of our country to maintain their supremacy. In this view, personal agency, effort, and choices of blacks are relatively meaningless against a system that is stacked against them and whites, no matter what they do or how they behave, are doomed to be forever racist villains.

CRT plays out in education by shaping how history is taught. Instead of teaching children that the founding of our nation was 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, our founding has been revised to 1619, the year the first slaves were brought to America. CRT conveniently minimizes all of the accomplishments and progress blacks have made from enslavement to securing the highest office in our land. CRT is deeply critical of America, our democracy, and capitalism, which proponents say have all been tools to oppress blacks and minorities.

CRT is dishonest at best and dangerous at worst. Shedding greater light on different experiences from the past can be useful if the goal is to learn and do better. But CRT efforts like the 1619 Project simply want to rewrite history to no one’s betterment.

Absolutely, educators should teach our children America’s full history with its triumphs, failures, and hardships. That includes teaching them about the dark stain of slavery, the pervasiveness of racism from Jim Crow laws to segregation, and the brutality and indignities blacks endured. That should not mean torching the rest of our history nor minimizing the progress blacks and minorities have made because it undercuts the systemic racism argument.

Even more, educators have no business injecting animosity into the classroom. White children should not be made to feel responsible for atrocities of the past nor shamed for the actions of others just because they share their skin color. Educators can teach about the Tulsa Massacre and Juneteenth without making white students out to be oppressors and black students to be oppressed.

We should not force children (or adults) to only view each other based on their skin colors or to paint each other with broad generalizations based simply on their membership in any particular racial group. The old idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” still applies.

CRT seeks to upend the progress America has made toward acceptance and understanding among the races. The backlash to the venomous hate being injected into curricula and human resources is a righteous response.

We should use Juneteenth to celebrate the progress we have made as a country, and reject CRT as divisive and demoralizing, and an ideology that should have no place in our schools, our workplaces, or our society.