Unit 3: Defining “Critical Race Theory”
“Critical race theory” (CRT) actually is an academic concept, mostly taught in law schools, that studies U.S. policies and institutions. It started in the 1970s as a framework for legal analysis, when law professors including Harvard Law School’s Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Cheryl Harris (see her work “Whitness as Property” in the Harvard Law Review), Mari Matsuda and Patricia J. Williams began exploring how race and racism have shaped American law and society. A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas. (See: Housing and Racial Covenants. CRT does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire groups of people.
CRT does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire groups of people.
From Wikipedia: “Critical race theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of US civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to critically examine the intersection of race and US law and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the US. A tenet of CRT is that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals.” NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. has an excellent resource.
Virtually no one teaches CRT below the college level yet in 2020 conservative journalists latched onto the term to define any anti-bias training happening in federal agencies. This then morphed into any and all teaching or discussions about racism, “white privilege” or diversity initiatives particularly in U.S. public schools. Conservative lawmakers and activists have used the term “critical race theory” as a catchall phrase for nearly any examination of systemic racism.
Critics say that the theory leads to negative dynamics, and divides people into “oppressed” and “oppressor” groups; and urges intolerance. The Heritage Foundation attributed a whole host of issues to CRT, including the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, LGBTQ support groups in schools and diversity training and even the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17. . “When followed to its logical conclusion, CRT is destructive and rejects the fundamental ideas on which our constitutional republic is based,” the organization claimed. Fox new contributor and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, (a conservative think tank) Christopher Rufo said “We have successfully frozen their brand — ‘critical race theory’ — into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions,” wrote Rufo, a s. “We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’”
This has led to parents across the country bombarding school board meetings with complaints that CRT is being taught. (see: Teachers). They believe that racial sensitivity training for teachers and allege that biased curricula indoctrinates impressionable children. At least eight Republican-led states (Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, and South Carolina) have passed legislation restricting how the concept of race can be taught. In Tennessee, where legislation was signed into law in May 2021, lessons cannot make students feel “discomfort, guilt [or] anguish” because of their race. This has led teachers to being unsure how to teach accurately about slavery and other painful chapters of American history. Tennessee’s Department of Education has proposed revoking the teaching licenses of instructors who repeatedly run afoul of the law. In a public presentation this month, a member of Utah’s state school board offered a long list of words that she said were euphemisms for critical race theory, including “social justice,” “culturally responsive” and “critical self-reflection.”
The eight states that have passed legislation ban the teaching of anything that in anyway would teach about racial disparities from slavery to Jim Crow including any discussions about conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression. These parameters also extend beyond race to include gender lectures and discussions. Nearly 20 additional states have introduced or plan to introduce similar legislation. The state school boards in Florida, Georgia, Utah, and Oklahoma introduced new guidelines barring racism related discussions. Local school boards in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia are on similar tracks. Some say that you can’t teach about slavery without also teaching how it benefited African Americans.
Teaching half of a story, like those opposed to teaching “critical race theory”, is teaching a lie. It is indoctrination into the white supremacist system. Why do so many of us deny and attack those who bring the issue forward rather then work to undo our own white supremacist system?
“When all of God’s children can finally breathe free
We can celebrate being a true democracy.
Imagine the joy and delight we will share
When we recover the oneness already there.” James Forbes
Thank-you for listening,
Comment: ” This installment sickens me more than the others.”
Response: I keep reading about more school committees being attacked because parents don’t want white children to be uncomfortable. Then I read this one below on Black children being jailed which made me kinda sick to my stomach.
I sometimes feel a wave of hopelessness for humanity … then I remembered there are people who care and want to understand. I have to remind myself that bringing things into the light is vital, like compost if it is never turned it gets even more nasty:
Black Children In Tennessee Were Jailed For A Crime That Doesn’t Exist
By Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica | 10/08/2021
C hapter 1: “What in the World?”
Friday, April 15, 2016: Hobgood Elementary School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Three police officers were crowded into the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood Elementary School, and Tammy Garrett, the school’s principal, had no idea what to do. One officer, wearing a tactical vest, was telling her: Go get the kids. A second officer was telling her: Don’t go get the kids. The third officer wasn’t saying anything.
Garrett knew the police had been sent to arrest some children, although exactly which children, it would turn out, was unclear to everyone, even to these officers. The names police had given the principal included four girls, now sitting in classrooms throughout the school. All four girls were Black. There was a sixth grader, two fourth graders and a third grader. The youngest was 8. On this sunny Friday afternoon in spring, she wore her hair in pigtails.
A few weeks before, a video had appeared on YouTube. It showed two small boys, 5 and 6 years old, throwing feeble punches at a larger boy as he walked away, while other kids tagged along, some yelling. The scuffle took place off school grounds, after a game of pickup basketball. One kid insulted another kid’s mother, is what started it all.
The police were at Hobgood because of that video. But they hadn’t come for the boys who threw punches. They were here for the children who looked on. …
Garrett rounded up the sixth grader, a tall girl with braids who had visions of becoming a police officer; one of the fourth graders, the girl with diabetes; and the 8-year-old third grader. In the hallway, the principal tried to prepare them, saying the police were there regarding a video of a fight. Hearing this, the sixth grader told Garrett that the two other girls hadn’t even been there.
After returning to the office with the three girls, Garrett relayed to police what the sixth grader had told her.
Her words were barely out when Carroll made it clear he’d had enough, Garrett said later when interviewed as part of an internal police investigation.
Carroll pulled out handcuffs and put them “right in my face,” Garrett recalled.
“And he said, ‘We’re going now, we’re going now, there’s no more talk, and we’re going now.’
“And I said, ‘But, but, but.’”
Carroll yelled at her, Garrett said. She felt intimidated. Bullied. She worried that if she said any more, she might be arrested herself. “And so I backed off.”
By now the girls were crying and screaming and reaching for the principal, who was also crying, as was the assistant principal. “And it was, it was, it was awful,” Garrett later said.
GOP Operative: Helping Kids of Color Feel Like They Belong Hurts White Kids
By Stephen A. Crockett Jr. | October 7, 2021
M ary Beeman —she of the hate-filled Beemans from Connecticut—is a campaign manager for the Guilford Republican school board candidates, and during a University of Connecticut virtual education forum, Beeman claim that “helping kids of color to feel they belong has a negative effect on white, Christian, or conservative kids.” …
When questioned about her comment, Beeman said, “The statement I made was poorly worded and shown out of context. Guilford students who may have staunch Judeo-Christian values, or simply are conservative thinkers, have been bullied into submission by their teachers and fellow students with left-leaning ideologies,” Eyewitness News 3 reports.
Frequently Asked Questions About Critical Race Theory
By James Mulholland | November 14, 2021
W hat is Critical Race Theory?
- Is Critical Race Theory being taught in our schools?…
- Is Critical Race Theory or its tenets designed to make white students feel guilty or ashamed?…
- Is Critical Race Theory just another name for American history? …
- Are Critical Race Theory and Anti-Racism the same? …
- If Critical Race Theory has been around since the 1990s, why is it suddenly so controversial? …
- Is Critical Race Theory Marxist or Anti-American? …
- Is Critical Race Theory opposed to the Civil Rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and others? …
- What should I do when someone says something untrue or negative about Critical Race Theory being taught in school? …