Like many of my fellow Fox and Hounds enthusiasts, I am ashamed of the history of racism and racial discrimination in California, indeed the country. I believe in what our founding fathers saw and declared as the American ideal – that “all men (and women) are created equal.” I, as do millions of U.S. citizens, practice those words daily – in both my professional and personal lives.
Regrettably, there is a movement afoot in the country today which challenges that virtue. It’s called “critical race theory” (CRT) and it’s becoming a regular feature of mandatory adult education in government and corporate settings, and is slowly but steadily creeping into our academic vernacular.
Popularized by the 1619 Project – the controversial edict, published in the New York Times Magazine, which says slaves from Africa, not religious refugees from Europe, founded the United States. (Times Magazine correspondent Nikole Hannah-Jones, won a Pulitzer Prize for the Project.) The Marx-inspired CRT doubles down on the 1619 Project by proclaiming America is inherently and systematically racist. Its backers insist that the CRT curriculum ought to replace the early American history being taught in our schools.
Indeed, believers of CRT think school teachers today are perpetrating a race-based fraud that needs fixing. Explains University of Texas academician Keffrelyn Brown, “the dominant, (dis)embodied and normalized culture of whiteness, white privilege and white hegemony pervades contemporary teacher education and presents a formidable challenge to the goal of preparing teachers to teach in a manner that is relevant, critical and humanizing while also socially and individually transformative.”
Due to “fix it” pressure coming from liberal leaders and groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM), local public school districts are now considering whether to adopt CRT into their curricula. To start the California Teachers Association (CTA), in a recent advisory, proclaimed there is only one human race in America then went on to promote several socially acceptable ways for white people to reveal their “covert white supremacy” as well as suggesting doing away with several “morally repugnant, racially charged” terms including “colorblindness,” “Eurocentric curriculum,” “paternalism” and the “Make America Great Again” slogan.
One of CRT promoters, Oakland-based Epoch Education, made a video entitled, “Challenging How History is Taught”, in which a program specialist of the Sacramento-area San Juan Unified School District boasts that she created a CRT guide used to evaluate social studies curriculum being considered for adoption.
The guide tells teachers to review history textbooks in a positive light only if the people instructing students on the history of America were “people of color and other diverse communities”, regardless of whether the history is accurate and that “history told by western white men should be seen as suspect.”
Re-telling history is trouble – in the immediate term and especially in the longer term. The authors of the country’s “new” history are sure to get it wrong – particularly in the current emotionally charged environment. As one critique of CRT said, “It (CRT) states that facts, data, and the scientific method are ‘white concepts’. So, if you use facts and data to disprove an argument against a Black person or an oppressed person, you are proving you are racist because, again, facts and data are, quote, the result of whiteness.”
It is true: America is the one place in the world where, based on our shared past, we are free to correct our past mistakes. And, we do it quite well – sometimes overdoing it – as we evolve. With time, we improve things.
The ultimate abolition of slavery is probably the best example of this. Following President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and the Northern states’ victory in the Civil War in 1865 – where an estimated 620,000 Americans lost their lives – not much happened to foster improved racial equality in this country until 1954 and the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
After that landmark decision, the Civil Rights movement in this country grew by leaps and bounds – and in public acceptance – culminating with the enactment 1965 of the Voting Rights Act (the Act). The Act’s changes were profound – and ended poll taxing and other Jim Crow voter-suppression practices.
The Federalist now worries that by teaching the youth of America CRT it’s telling them “to hate their country and distrust their institutions (which continue to discriminate against Black Americans) and their fellow countrymen.” The Federalist also says that instructing students on CRT gives them “a warped view of America and completely misrepresents history as a discipline.”
I’m not ashamed to be white. In fact, I’m proud of my heritage. And, my lengthy career in public policy has been punctuated by regular instances of helping people of modest, even inferior means – including women and people of color – to improve themselves and their stake in their individual orbits. And, it’s worked – all are living happy and successful lives.
That’s the form racial harmony should take. Not a radical remake of history.