As defined by Encyclopedia Britannica: “Critical Race Theory (CRT), is an intellectual movement and loosely-organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.
“Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”
CRT is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. It was a school of thought developed in the 1970s in response to what some people viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that those institutions function today to maintain the dominance of white people in society.
Proponents believe that race is not biological, but culturally invented, and because of that, our institutions and federal laws have preserved unequal treatment of people of color.
CRT dismisses the idea that racism stems from acts of individuals, but is rooted in a system of oppression based on a socially-constructed hierarchy that only allows white people to reap material benefits over people of color by the misuse of power.
Many teachers’ unions, educators and social studies organizations now support the teaching of CRT in our schools. They believe awareness of past acts of racial discrimination against people of color, perpetrated by whites because of systemic racism, is absolutely necessary before “true equity” for all minority classes can be achieved.
To apply CRT in an educational environment requires today’s students, whether they have experienced acts of racism or not, to be fully cognizant of past acts of racial discrimination. Students are forced to accept the theory that if you are white, you have been privileged to be part of the oppressor class, and if you are non-white, you are part of the class that has been oppressed, or systematically held back.
The supporters of CRT believe that any limits placed upon the teaching of the theory will whitewash American history by downplaying the role past injustices still play today.
Of Historic Importance
I want to stress at this point that I am a firm believer of the importance and the value of lessons of the past, be they good or bad. Without knowledge of those lessons, or an understanding of how they came to be, we have little chance to advance our lot or improve society.
Only a fool does not learn from lessons of the past, and the ignorant learn the wrong things from the past. To reap the benefits of past lessons, it is crucial that we view those lessons in their proper perspective with a knowledge of how those lessons came to be, and an open mind as to their relative importance.
There is no doubt that there have been horrible instances of racial discrimination in our nation’s past, as there have been ten-fold in almost all other nations the world over.
Yes, it is important to have a knowledge of past injustices. Yes, there have been times when our institutions and system of laws have supported racial and even gender disparities. Laws enforcing segregation or prohibiting women to vote are just two examples, but have we not as a nation, made tremendous strides to change those laws in the direction of true equality?
Are we not the only nation in the world that has opened our doors to people of different color from all over the world? Is our Constitution, with its clauses of liberty and justice for all, and amendments to assure that all men are created equal and with equal opportunity, not a sole and unique approach in a world awash with racial and class strife?
CRT does not acknowledge that our nation’s institutions have been constantly improving by redefining and modifying its laws and guidelines to serve a population that is changing, and demanding more equality for all its citizens. Instead, CRT doubles down on the negative aspects of racial instances of the past, and completely ignores what the efforts, aspirations and actions of those individuals, who make up the classes, have done to prevent such instances in the future.
When the application of CRT focuses only on past examples of institutional class oppression on the basis of skin color, it misses the opportunity of providing any knowledge of individual equality or responsibility.
White students are made to feel guilty because of past racial incidents that they have had absolutely nothing to do with, and students of color are made to feel inferior because they have been held back by an oppressive white society. The teaching of CRT denies individual students of all colors the opportunity to aspire to do more and better when it comes to race relations.
Because CRT promotes class distinction and division by means of skin color and guilt by association, it is much easier to manipulate young and innocent minds by calling for class equity as opposed to individual equality.
The Guilt Card
CRT uses the emotion of guilt to deliver its message. Guilt is a very powerful negative tool that can easily be used to motivate today’s young students, many who have had no negative racial discrimination experience at all. Such an approach ignores and negates the wonderful race relations advances that this nation has achieved in the past century.
It’s a fact that any type of racism and discrimination left unchecked will only promote more of the same. So why does CRT not use the educational setting to promote those concepts in our society that have been proven to eradicate racism and promote true equality by encouraging the individual aspirations of students to do so?
I think the answers are clear.
CRT emphasizes group association over individual responsibility, and skin color over character in order to achieve its goal of class distinction—a very un-American concept that goes against all that our laws and institutions are striving to protect.
When CRT says race is not biological but culturally invented, it defies the reality that many of us have different skin colors. Is the real goal here to subvert and denigrate American laws and institutions that have been specifically set up to protect racial equality and ensure equal opportunity?
When CRT subjugates the individual to that of a class, and guilt by association to that class, it diminishes the desire and aspirations of young individuals, regardless of color, to achieve even more in terms of race equality. Those who suffer the most by such reverse reasoning are precisely those students of color who will be denied the opportunity to advance themselves on their abilities apart from their skin color or class.
It is very easy to promote class distinction and even animosity via the negative effects of guilt by association, and that is my primary objection to the introduction of CRT in today’s curriculum. To emphasize only the negatives as opposed to the positives is not the way to teach today’s students who are in no way responsible for the atrocities of the past.
The Wrong Message
The application of teaching critical race theory could easily result in teaching our students not about the pitfalls of racism, but how to employ racism as a means to an end. Is this what we want for our students?
Americans of all races are rapidly becoming aware that our nation is under siege from those who, in their quest for self-serving political power, seek to transform the basic ideals that our country was founded upon.
The costs of allowing such maligned thinking are steep, especially if they include the brainwashing of our innocent children in schools that are teaching critical race theory under the guise of enlightenment about diverse equity.
When one examines the basic precepts and goals of such a harmful theory, it is easy to see it for what it is. It is a concerted effort to promote guilt, confusion, and division among different races of people, with the result of generating hate and animosity.
This most un-American of ideals is taking place right before our very eyes and is being soft-pedaled as intellectually enlightening our children to the realities of past racism in our history.
Again, it only presents one side of the story, and that is how white America abused and discriminated against all blacks mainly, and a few lesser mentioned minorities.
It uses instances and snapshots of racism in our past to push the narrative that because of those mistakes, America is systemically racist today.
It teaches that only whites have been the oppressors, and only non-whites have been the victims. It completely ignores the racist behavior of most other non-white races throughout history such as cannibalism, human sacrifice, tribalism, imperialism, slavery, genocide, and a multitude of other discriminatory practices in the effort to paint only whites as oppressors. CRT gives no credence or recognition to the concept that all human beings share a common humanity apart from race.
Many Americans know that in a country as multicultural as ours, there are and have been many examples of racism where whites have not been the oppressors but indeed the victims, as there are many different types of discrimination.
CRT does not acknowledge this, but insists that only white children must be made to feel guilty even though they themselves have had nothing to do with any kind of past racism. CRT emphasizes and encourages non-white children to think that they somehow are inferior and deserve to be preferentially treated as a class because they have been deprived to compete equally.
I think we have enough of the false reasoning, and purposeful distortion of historical facts such as CRT tries to impose. It’s a dated theory being pushed by those who would have us regress a group of class warfare.
The politicians that support CRT and want to force it on our schools are just pandering for votes as they care nothing about the quality of education being provided to our youngsters or for their welfare tomorrow. They are just as guilty as the race mongers who invented CRT in their failure to acknowledge that America has moved on. The gruesome, cherry picked examples of past racism that they employ are in stark contrast to the reality of American society today.
People of different races are now neighbors, close friends, acquaintances, business partners, elected officials, and even family members.
This didn’t happen because of the divisiveness taught by a twisted, bitter, and pseudo-intellectual fringe sect. It is happening because decent, intelligent, socially responsible, and caring people are rejecting skin color and class distinction as a gauge when it comes to their fellow man.
Tony Hall is a former supervisor in the city and county of San Francisco.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.