Wilfred Reilly on Critical Race Theory: ‘Marxist Concept Translated Into Race Relations’

October 6, 2020 Updated: October 7, 2020

Critical race theory (CRT), which recently drew national attention after President Donald Trump ordered it purged from federal agencies, can be traced back to Marxism, political scientist Wilfred Reilly told The Epoch Times.

In an interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders,” Reilly said CRT is “a translation of Marxist class theory into the sector of race relations.”

“The communist or the Marxist will argue that everything that looks like fair facially neutral law, in fact, reflects class privilege,” Reilly, a political science professor at Kentucky State University, told host Jan Jekielek. “So, laws mandating that your property is yours are in fact a way for the wealthy, who own the most property, to essentially steal from and oppress the rest of us.” 

Reilly said CRT, as discussed in the works of Robin D’Angelo and Ibram X. Kendi, essentially expresses the same Marxist concept, except that class is substituted with race.

CRT, according to Reilly, can be roughly summarized with the notion that “disparities equal discrimination,” meaning that social systems and institutions, no matter how neutral they are, will be seen as tools of racial discrimination from a critical race perspective if the result in outcomes is unequal for different racial groups.

“So, [according to CRT], facially neutral systems, like the SAT, is a way to implement white privilege, or to implement white supremacy, because there’s no way minorities can do as well as more privileged white kids,” Reilly said. “The criminal justice system’s goal isn’t to actually lock up rapists and perverts, abusers of women and so on; it’s to oppress minorities by instituting laws that minorities are going to be more likely to violate than wealthier whites. So that’s what critical race theory very, very often is.”

Trump’s ban on CRT-based training programs was also brought up in the first presidential debate, when host Chris Wallace asked Trump about the decision to end what he described as “racial sensitivity training.” Reilly pointed out that racial sensitivity training and CRT are not the same thing, and the two have been conflated.

“As a young executive years ago, I’ve gone through managing diversity training, which is simply a basic process of explaining how to get along with individuals from different cultural backgrounds and not display bias toward the look or odor of different cuisines,” he said. “That’s not what critical race theory is.”

“Very often in society … people seem to be speaking on parallel tracks,” Reilly said, noting that he often find himself needing to ask people to define common terms such as “racism,” “privilege,” and even “rape” and “sexual assault,” which have been conflated to the point that they
“mean something very, very different from what I took that term to mean.”

“It’s unfortunate that we now have to do that kind of clarification in society. It often is worth doing, but I don’t think Biden and Trump are even using the same language academically when they’re talking about racism,” he said.

Follow Jan on Twitter: @JanJekielek