A critical race theorist whose ostensibly “anti-racist” ideas have been accused of perpetuating racism against whites will speak at a major teachers union conference on July 7.
Ibram Kendi, a professor of humanities at Boston University, is scheduled to address the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) “Together Educating America’s Children” conference.
Kendi will engage in a “free-ranging discussion with student activists and AFT members on his scholarship and on developing anti-racist mindsets and actions inside and outside classrooms,” according to the conference’s website.
The session will last 90 minutes starting at 6 p.m.
Kendi, the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” and “Antiracist Baby,” is a critical race scholar whose ideas have attracted strong support and strong criticism. He has claimed that people who are not actively working to combat racism are racist and that young children should discuss the concept of anti-racism. He has also pushed for the creation of a Department of Anti-Racism that would punish public officials who promote ideas deemed racist.
Critical race theory (CRT) is a quasi-Marxist academic theory that focuses on race and alleged racism. While proponents describe the theory as exploring uncomfortable truths about America and its people, opponents say the theory is itself racist and injects an anti-American worldview into institutions and Americans. Some states have banned critical race theory from being taught in schools, including Florida and Tennessee.
The American Federation of Teachers is the second-largest teachers union in the United States. It previously announced a campaign to promote one of Kendi’s books by distributing copies to classrooms.
Randi Weingarten, the AFT’s president, told members in a speech on Tuesday that conservatives are fighting a “culture campaign” against CRT and alleged the theory is not being taught in primary schools.
“But culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism, or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic. They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history,” Weingarten said during the virtual conference.
“This harms students. These culture warriors want to deprive students of a robust understanding of our common history. This will put students at a disadvantage in life by knocking a big hole in their understanding of our country and the world.”
The largest U.S. teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), adopted a resolution recently that says it will publicize and share information on critical race theory, “what it is and what it is not; have a team of staffers for members who want to learn more and fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric; and share information with other NEA members as well as their community members.”
The AFT, meanwhile, will also hold other sessions addressing so-called anti-racist ideas.
One will tackle how to use picture books to “promote anti-racist teaching methods.” Another will give educators insight on where to find resources to teach such ideas. “The goal of this session is to increase your capacity to understand the issue, engage in anti-racist and anti-oppression practice, undertake continuous learning, and become ambassadors for anti-racism,” the conference’s website states.
First Lady Jill Biden is also slated to speak to AFT members.