Within a year after George Floyd, a Black American, was murdered by a White policeman authorized by our government to shoot, parents across the country — let me start again — White parents across the country have flooded school board meetings to decry, yay, to demand that their children not be exposed to “Critical Race Theory” or “CRT” for fear of upsetting their children with “bad news” about real-world racism in America.
News such as White supremacists killing Black, Brown, Jewish people and their sympathizers at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2022, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018; White men who mix their tendencies toward violence with neo-Nazi ideologies conduct mass shootings.
The list goes on, and it is happening in real-time right now as our precious children are going to school and wondering if their world is safe. (93 school shootings during 2020-21, the highest on record ever, also need explaining.)
But let us not teach our children about the world they live in, that they inherited. Let them close their eyes, ears, and most certainly their mouths about the racist violence perpetrated in early and present times. So that history can repeat itself in new forms?
Right-wing media teach a loud minority of White parents to fear being replaced as the “great replacement theory” claims. Let us remember that the nation witnessed the horror of Neo-Nazis bellowing “We shall not be replaced” on their deadly torchlight march in Charlotte, VA, in 2017.
The fear of being replaced by Black, Brown, and Jewish people has led to organized calls for banning books, toolkits to attack districts for DEI efforts, and spy rings to report on liberal educators.
The existential fear of some White parents of losing their place in this country has been whipped up by an organized group of rightwing conspirators in a grab for political power by destabilizing our shared institutions of education and government (e.g., school boards).
On websites, toolkits, Facebook groups, and media appearances, they use shared language, tactics, and inflammatory logic, calling for the need to form “armies” to “fight back” or “defend” in “battle” and “war” on the “radical” or “woke” “far left,” “Biden,” “The Democrats,” and often public schools in general.
They advocate for bounty-hunter possies to threaten and fire suspect civil rights educators or incarcerate abortion supporters and legally disenfranchise people who are Black, Brown, Gay, and Trans in a cynical attempt to consolidate political power.
The anti-Black, anti-“CRT” effort has already metastasized to include Gay and Trans people, girls and women seeking reproductive healthcare, Native people, and non-Christians on their list of public enemies. Legislation curtailing the civil rights of easily half of all Americans and their sympathizers has nothing to do with claims of protecting White children or CRT.
Let’s not forget who advocates violence to fight a “spiritual battle between good and evil.” It was not George Floyd but Steve Bannon who gleefully heralded, “all hell is going to break loose” on January 6, 2022, the day of the deadly, seditious attack on U.S. democracy.
If you agree with these statements, you understand CRT.
African slaves were not happy to be enslaved in America. YES
The Civil War was fought over the right to own and work slaves for the owner’s benefit. YES
The perspectives, stories, and experiences of most Black people are not known to most White people. YES
People usually act in self-interest; concessions on civil rights for disenfranchised people typically serve White interests first. YES
Slaves added economic value to the American economy. E.g. cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was a highly valuable export before the Civil War. YES
The U.S. solved its land shortage by removing Native peoples from their lands. YES
Following the Civil Rights movement and legislation in the 1950s, people of color still experienced ongoing racial discrimination; racism is entrenched in the American economy and society. YES
Structural racism is a social issue different from personal racial prejudice. YES
The 1619 Project explained
“By acknowledging this shameful history [of the inhuman and immoral treatment of black Americans], by trying hard to understand its powerful influence on the present, perhaps we can prepare ourselves for a more just future. That is the hope of this project” – The 1619 Project Introduction The New York Times Magazine, August 18, 2019, p. 4.
Truth be told.
What’s new about Critical Race Theory now being used in smear campaigns?
• to make CRT a fear-inducing symbolic foil to intensify racial, cultural, religious, and political grievances,
• to support far Right politicians and policies from the ground up.
• To frame opposition to CRT as an individual right and patriotic duty
• School board meetings disrupted,
• Legislation introduced to remove or exclude discussion of race from the school curriculum.
Nothing new, old wine in new bottles
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the same accusations have been leveled to induce fear of expanding the civil rights of disenfranchised groups in the American populace, often by focusing people’s ire on educational institutions.