(Photo Credit: Fordham University School of Law, The Center on Race, Law, & Justice)
by Diane Rufino, April 29, 2021
A. WHAT IS “CRITICAL RACE THEORY” IN GENERAL?
Christopher Rufo, who works with the Heritage Foundation and is an expert on the subject, describes Critical Race Theory (CRT) this way: “Critical race theory is the idea that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and that all of our institutions including the law, culture, business, the economy are all designed to maintain white supremacy. And the critical race theorists argue that all of these institutions are in a sense beyond reforming, they really need to be completely dismantled in order to liberate the oppressed people.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY is a policy, or in this particular case, a plan to have educators and administrators in our North Carolina public school system emphasize RACE and how racism is inherent and prevalent in our society and in our country as a whole – whether intentional, unintentional, direct, subtle, incidental, or systemic. And by emphasizing it and teaching it to our children, they are indoctrinating them also to focus on race and to see things in terms of race. We’re talking about children whose brains are not yet fully developed and who are especially vulnerable and susceptible to what is taught to them. As we all know, discrimination and racism go back to the days of slavery and then the Jim Crow era, and apparently to progressives and Democrats, the discrimination still continues. In fact, they say, it’s now engrained into our system.
Inherent in Critical Race Theory is the notion that whites are “privileged” in this county and therefore somehow bad; they are seen as “oppressors” who overwhelmingly benefit in our society. And African-Americans continue to be victims of discrimination and systemic racism; they continue to be the oppressed.
This, in essence, is what Critical Race Theory is all about…. A system, a society comprised of “oppressors” and the “oppressed.” Some inherently benefit from this system and others inherently are discriminated against. This is what is being promoted in our public schools, at least in certain ones (certainly all the ones in the Wake County School system), but it is looking like the policy will catch on with other school systems in the state. I don’t see what good the policy does or what good it could possibly achieve.
B. WHAT IS “CRITICAL RACE THEORY” AS IT RELATES TO NORTH CAROLINA?
CRITICAL RACE THEORY is a policy, or in this particular case, a plan to have educators and administrators in our North Carolina public school system emphasize RACE and how racism is inherent and prevalent in our society and in our country as a whole – whether intentional, unintentional, direct, subtle, incidental, or systemic. And by emphasizing it and teaching it to our children, they are indoctrinating them also to focus on race and to see things in terms of race. We’re talking about children whose brains are not yet fully developed and who are especially vulnerable and susceptible to what is taught to them.
School policies, and especially new “Biden era” curriculum standards (social studies, for one) include its teachings or depending on the state, include elements of CRT, which most school board members have never taken the time to read through. CRT is being taught in North Carolina public schools, to varying degrees, depending on the school system. Wake County is the worst.
I find this next part is particularly offensive and subversive:
Critical Race Theory gives educators the ultimate authority to encourage students to “view problems and issues through the lens of race” and therefore takes the task of raising our children and influencing them away from their parents and puts them in their hands. It is an insidious policy that is based on self-shaming, continued victimization, and hatred and shame for our country.
Some people – and I’m talking about Democrats, progressives, Marxists, leftists, the Black Lives Matter movement – see racism everywhere. The idea that America is fundamentally flawed because some people harbor racism in their hearts and minds and that this equates to systemic racism is ridiculous. It’s absolutely preposterous and demeaning to white people and insulting to our system of laws and our history of judicial rulings. We, as Americans, have abolished slavery, abolished segregation, and have gone as far as to institute affirmative action policies in almost all areas of education and business. Back in the 1860’s, we adopted the Reconstruction era constitutional amendments (13th, 14th, and 15th), in 1953, the Supreme Court handed down the Brown v. Board of Education ruling ending school segregation, and in the 1960’s, Congress passed civil rights legislation – the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That’s a history of a country recognizing its past sins and wanting to do the right thing. This is what should be taught and emphasized in our schools.
I love this comment that one parent gave: “My parents always told me that it doesn’t matter whether people like you; it matters whether or not the law protects you, and it does.”
And I also love the remarks that US Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) gave last night, April 28, following President Biden’s address to Congress. He said: “America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination, and it’s wrong to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”
Rep. Scott also said: “We embrace traditional American values. We love people, not parties. We love the content of one’s character, not the color of one’s skin. Our nation stands in greatness because we fought back against the darker angels and we believed in the better angels. I wish the Democrats would look in the mirror and ask themselves: ‘Would they put up with such conduct from anyone other than themselves?’ If they aren’t willing to police themselves, don’t look to the other side.”
C. WHEN DID CRITICAL RACE THEORY COME INTO EXISTENCE?
Teaching Critical Race Theory in the North Carolina public schools is not a product of any bill or policy adopted by the NC General Assembly or by an executive order issued by Governor Cooper. It is a policy that was initiated, embraced, and adopted by teachers themselves. From what I’ve read, it was adopted by teachers in the Wake County School system last year. (I should mention that a form of Race Theory was officially articulated back in 1989).
If you want an eye-opener regarding Critical Race Theory and how it has made its way into North Carolina’s public school system, check out this informative article, titled “Subversive Education,” written by Christopher Rufo on March 17 of this year for City Journal:
North Carolina’s largest school district launches a campaign against “whiteness in educational spaces.”
Last year, the Wake County Public School System, which serves the greater Raleigh, North Carolina area, held an equity-themed teachers’ conference with sessions on “whiteness,” “microaggressions,” “racial mapping,” and “disrupting texts,” encouraging educators to form “equity teams” in schools and push the new party line: “antiracism.”
The February 2020 conference, attended by more than 200 North Carolina public school teachers, began with a “land acknowledgement,” a ritual recognition suggesting that white North Carolinians are colonizers on stolen Native American land. Next, the superintendent of Wake County Public Schools, Cathy Moore, introduced the day’s program and shuffled teachers to breakout sessions across eight rooms. Freelance reporter A.P. Dillon obtained the documents from the sessions through a public records request and provided them to City Journal.
At the first session, “Whiteness in Education Spaces,” school administrators provided two handouts on the “norms of whiteness.” These documents claimed that “(white) cultural values” include “denial,” “fear,” “blame,” “control,” “punishment,” “scarcity,” and “one-dimensional thinking.” According to notes from the session, the teachers argued that “whiteness perpetuates the system” of injustice and that the district’s “whitewashed curriculum” was “doing real harm to our students and educators.” The group encouraged white teachers to “challenge the dominant ideology” of whiteness and “disrupt” white culture in the classroom through a series of “transformational interventions.”
Parents, according to the teachers, should be considered an impediment to social justice. When one teacher asked, “How do you deal with parent pushback?” the answer was clear: ignore parental concerns and push the ideology of antiracism directly to students. “You can’t let parents deter you from the work,” the teachers said. “White parents’ children are benefiting from the system” of whiteness and are “not learning at home about diversity (LGBTQ, race, etc.).” Therefore, teachers have an obligation to subvert parental wishes and beliefs. Any “pushback,” the teachers explained, is merely because white parents fear “that they are going to lose something” and find it “hard to let go of power [and] privilege.”
[And so, the Wake County Public School district adopted an official EQUITY IN ACTION plan].
The Equity in Action plan encourages teachers to override parents in the pursuit of antiracism. “Equity leaders [should] have the confidence to take risks and make difficult decisions that are rooted in their values,” the document reads. “Even in the face of opposition, equity leaders can draw on a heartfelt conviction for what is best for students and families.” In other words, the school should displace the family as the ultimate arbiter of political morality.
The equity plan outlines this new ideology in chart format, announcing the district’s commitment to a series of fashionable instructional techniques, including “color consciousness,” “white identity development,” “critical race theory,” “intersections of power and privilege,” and “anti-racist identity and action.”
The equity program in the Wake County Public School System is a massive enterprise. Founded in 2013, the district’s Office of Equity Affairs has now amassed a $1 million annual budget and hosts an ongoing sequence of school trainings, curriculum-development sessions, and teacher events. In 2019, for example, the office hosted a series of “courageous conversations” about race and a five-night discussion program about the podcast Seeing White, which asks listeners to consider how “whiteness” contributes to “police shootings of unarmed African Americans,” “acts of domestic terrorism,” and “unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring.”
According to Wake County Public Schools, the purpose of these programs is to achieve “equity,” which it defines as “eliminating the predictability of success and failure that correlates with any social or cultural factor.” This is naïve, at best. Cultural traits such as family environment, transmitted values, and study habits have an enormous influence on academic outcomes. The radical-left educators believe that this is an injustice. They see their job as leveling cultural differences, grouping students into the categories of inborn identity, and equalizing outcomes.
The administrators have the logic backwards. Rather than seek to level cultural factors, they should seek to uncover and then cultivate the cultural traits that lead to academic success across all racial groups. Despite all the recent focus on racial issues in education, the greater disparity in student outcomes today is, in fact, related to social class. As Stanford’s Sean Reardon has shown, the class gap in academic achievement is now twice as large as the race gap—precisely the opposite of what it was 50 years ago.
This news should suggest an opportunity to school administrators. They could pursue educational strategies that help struggling students of all racial backgrounds. Sadly, rather than seizing this opportunity, teachers in Wake County are busy planning conference presentations on “toxic masculinity,” “microaggressions,” “peace circles,” and “applied critical race theory.” North Carolina might be a red state, but in its largest county, the school system has fully bought in to the latest progressive dogmas.
Parents across the U.S. should not assume that their local district is immune to these trends. The new political education is spreading everywhere.”
[**** City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank].
D. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN SCHOOLS??
There are many implications – all negative – of implementing the policy in the school system and in our classrooms, but I’ll mention just three here:
1). It implies that behaviors such as mispronouncing a student’s name, making both too much or too little eye contact, or not equally distributing how a teach walks around the room or calls on students is racist.
2). It accuses teachers and administrators who choose to treat students, parents, and colleagues equally regardless of their skin color or ethnicity of “CULTURAL BLINDNESS.” As several training sessions teach, regarding “whiteness”: “It must be nice to be able to go through life every day without having to think about race.”
3). Training sessions also instruct teachers and administrators to focus on “WHITE IDENTITY.” It asks questions such as: “What does it mean for you to be white?” And “How has being white helped you?” The sessions encourage teachers and administrators to adopt the mindset in their teaching that BEING WHITE IS ACTUALLY A BAD THING.
E. THE PROBLEMS WITH CRITICAL RACE THEORY:
Again, there are many problems with Critical Race Theory – with its very premise and with its implementation in our North Carolina public schools, and in American public schools in general. I will address only five of such problems:
1). Progressive teachers have taken it upon themselves to USE PUBLIC RESOURCES to teach policies NOT grounded in science or rationality or actual data. They are USING PUBLIC RESOURCES to push extremist views on our kids.
2). Critical Race Theory is a policy that amounts to INDOCTRINATION in the public school system. The school system was never meant to be a place that indoctrinates our children; it was never meant to supplant the role of the parents or the family in the upbringing of their children or the impressions of their minds. The role – the ONLY role – of the school system is to provide children an honest and accurate education. Everyone who believes it’s time to stop the Indoctrination and focus on Education should get involved – go to Board of Education meetings, write the DPI, join activist groups, file lawsuits, become a blogger.
3). A Critical Race Theory Plan (or whatever the name they choose to give it) transforms the primary goal of a teacher – from basic education to mind control. It gives teachers too much opportunity to shape a student’s views on social and political issues rather than being one who strictly instructs in the core subjects. How does it become the school’s job to teach children to “view problems and issues through the lens of race?”
4). Critical Race Theory has no place in our taxpayer-funded schools. All white people are not racists, and how dare our public schools teach that to our impressionable children. The truth is that success in life is based on a lot of things, such as a stable home life, having two committed parents, study habits, ambition, support from parents, who the child associates with, morals and values, peer pressure, drug usage, access to technology, and yes, even religion…. but the color of one’s skin isn’t really one of them. How can we ever hope to teach true equality to our children and take pride in the fact that we have been able to overcome discrimination and segregation over the many years by all legal and constitutional means possible when we plan to teach that it will never be possible because of structural racism. We can’t have it both ways.
And here’s the kicker —
5). Good-intentioned parents and other concerned citizens aren’t willing to talk to media outlets or post on social media because their perspective will be surely be depicted as racist, even though their true goals are combating racism and ensuring equal treatment and continued academic excellence for ALL students – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, etc etc.
BUT WE MUST BECOME VOCAL. We must be willing to talk to media outlets and express our views on social media. We must be willing to be seen in Raleigh, at the state General Assembly building, to oppose this policy. The First Amendment is our friend and not our enemy. Unlike those on the left, we must embrace our right to speak, to express, and to assemble to promote our ideas. The left uses racism as a means to mock and censor our ideas. We must fight for our children. We must force the schools to erect a wall between a solid education in core classes and indoctrination on socially progressive issues. We will tolerate the former, but will not tolerate the latter. That is the role of the parents and of family, and certainly involves the child’s religious values. Sure, government wants to increasingly control its citizens. We see that trend. And one of the most critical and effective ways to begin controlling the population is to control the education system. We can’t let government hijack the public schools. The outcome is nothing less than the survival of our national identity. No nation can survive a generation of citizens who hate their country… who are actually taught to hate their country.
Freedom is never completely free. It can’t be taken for granted. It must be guarded and must be defended against an ever-ambitious government, whether it be local, state, and federal.
The future of our school system lies with the good intentions of good people and their willingness to get involved. Always remember this phrase: “A government of the People, by the People, for the People.” If we don’t get involved, government will be transformed into “A government for the government.”
There is going to be a meeting next week of activists and conservative group leaders to learn more about Critical Race Policy and we’re hoping that something concrete and actionable will come out of it.
ADDENDUM: BACKGROUND on RACE THEORY:
I. SOME HISTORY BEHIND RACE THEORY.
Why is it that we must turn our attention to what is being legislated, taught, and promoted in our public schools? Well, it goes back to the issue of political power, thought control, and what to do with “useless idiots.”
After the “Civil War” (“War to Prevent Southern Independence,” that is) and the northern victory over the southern states, the Southern Democrat Party, embracing the contemporary notion that African-Americans were uncivilized (see the Dred Scott case, 1857) and uneducated, together with the fact that they associated with the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln (the party of abolition, of freedom), used various approaches to prevent them from voting, to intimidate them, and to silence them, including violence. They created a two-tier system of “whites” and “blacks.” That was the beginning of race theory. That two-tier system continued during the Jim Crow era, which lasted until the Supreme Court struck down segregation in education with the Brown v. Board of Education ruling (1954).
Then came the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, and finally, African-Americans were recognized and legally protected as equal human beings, with the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).
In the 1970’s, the question was asked “What to do with useless idiots?” Saul Alinsky, the rabid and famous progressive and Marxist, and author of RULES FOR RADICALS, had the answer — control them, seize their minds, control what they think, and organize them for political power (for the Democratic Party, that is). This way, ‘useless idiots’ can be transformed into ‘useful idiots.’ And one of the most critical and effective ways to begin controlling the population, he wrote, is to control the education system. As the government knows all too well (and especially the Democratic element), the aim of its indoctrination is to appeal to people’s emotions rather than their brains. And for school-age children and teens, with their level of brain development, emotions are easier to comprehend than facts, which have to be studied and internalized.
This was the same approach taken by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right-hand man (head of Nazi propaganda, beginning in 1933). The Nazi Party looked to the Marxist ideology of the Southern Democratic Party, as well as the eugenics policies of Margaret Sanger (also a Democratic policy) for their political platform of fear and oppression, as well as racial purity. That should tell you something right there. Goebbels explained: “There are two ways to make a revolution…. You can blast your enemy with machine guns until he acknowledges the superiority of those holding the machine guns. That is one way. Or you can transform the nation through a revolution of the spirit.”
Policies such as Critical Race Theory, diversity (but not of thought), white privilege, white supremacy, gender identity, gender fluidity, the growing LGBT movement, genderless marriages, abortion, etc etc are not grounded in science, facts, or rational thought, but rather they are a means to an end……to effect mind control, to teach children of the evils of this country, and to ultimately obtain and secure political power.
II. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MARK ROBINSON ADDRESSES THE NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY ABOUT RACE. In speaking to the House Committee of the Judiciary about the need for Voter ID to ensure election integrity and about the Democrats’ assertion that such a law is discriminatory to African-Americans and an attempt to suppress their vote, our Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson said that “it is not only insane but Insulting to suggest black Americans are incapable of obtaining a FREE photo ID.” I would argue that it is insulting and insane to think that our country must promulgate a false and misleading position that racism is inherent in white people and therefore our society is built on structural racism to continually keep African-Americans from succeeding. I don’t believe in victimhood.
Here are the remarks Lieutenant Governor Robinson delivered:
“I am very proud of the history in this nation of my people. My people were put in the belly of ships, and bound in chains during the middle passage. My people were whipped, beaten, and sold as property into slavery. During Reconstruction and during Jim Crow, my people were in intimidated, harassed, and even killed to keep them from having a voice in government. Symbols like chains, nooses, and burning crosses were not just symbols of death but symbols of forced, coerced silence. The sacrifices of our ancestors so I can have the opportunity to become the first black lieutenant governor of my state, to see a black man sit in the White House for two terms, and for millions of us to become leaders in business, athletics, government, and culture add up to an incredible story of victory.
Today we hear that our states are being compared to Jim Crow, that black voices are being silenced and that black voices are being kept out. How? By bullets, by bombs, by nooses? NO… by requiring a free photo ID to secure their vote. Let me say that again – By requiring a free ID to secure the vote. How absolutely preposterous! Am I to believe that black Americans who have overcome the atrocities of slavery, who were victorious in the Civil Rights movement, and who now sit in the highest level of this government cannot figure out how to get a FREE ID to secure their votes? Am I to believe that they need to be coddled by politicians because we can’t figure out how to make our voices be heard? Are you kidding me?? The notion that black people must be protected from a free ID to secure their votes is not only insane, it is insulting. This has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with power.”
Christopher F. Rufo, “Subversive Education,” City Journal, March 17, 2021. Referenced at: https://www.city-journal.org/critical-race-theory-in-wake-county-nc-schools [City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank.]
Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson Addresses House Committee on the Judiciary, BreitbartNews (YouTube) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTvKswJjves&ab_channel=BreitbartNews
Michelle Cordero, “How Critical Race Theory is Dividing America,” The Heritage Foundation, October 26th, 2020. Referenced at: https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/how-critical-race-theory-dividing-america [Includes a podcast interview and a full transcript of that interview}