Don't Worry, We'll Talk It Out

Black or White: The War on Critical Race Theory

July 12, 2021 Randon Heim Season 3 Episode 24
Don't Worry, We'll Talk It Out
Black or White: The War on Critical Race Theory
Show Notes Transcript

Today, Randon discusses the culture war regarding race, America's history, "wokeness" and the boogeyman of Critical Race Theory. 

What actually is CRT---1:50
CRT vs "Anti-Racism"---6:30
The "Conservative Activist"---11:00
CRT in K-12? Good or Bad?---13:45
Censorship or Free Speech?---17:00
Pushing back on BOTH sides---20:00

I think the Board of Education and those sitting on the panels are thieves. I think they're liars and have committed treason against our children. Stop indoctrinating our children. Stop teaching our children to hate the police. Stop teaching our children that if they don't agree with the LGBT community, that they're homophobic. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Don't Worry, we'll talk it out, as always, I'm your host, Randon, and I am happy to be back on to discuss some important and controversial topics today. I just finished my summer semester and my doctorate program, so that's great. Get some time to refresh, not focus on grades for a month or two. So that's nice. And other than that, I've been staying up to date on the news and especially the latest culture wars brimming in this country. And as of course, you can tell by the title of this episode, I think it's a perfect time to discuss this ongoing battle around critical race theory. This is a buzz word that has become, at least to me, wholely political on both sides and is quickly lost most of its original meaning. This is something that I have discussed pretty frequently on this podcast. I think it's happening more than ever in America, especially around these buzz words that can lose meaning. And obviously this is certainly a complex topic as a ton of history behind it that I have to get into. So, as always, sit back, relax, because don't worry, we'll talk it out. Critical race theory is basically teaching people to hate our country, schools are embracing this ideology and forcing white students and white teachers to be ashamed of their own skin color. It's not a critical race theory. It's racism or thousands of parents all over the U.S. of all races who have been speaking out against society and rightfully so. These are my beliefs, not yours. If you are embarrassed or ashamed of your skin color, that's your issue, not mine, nor my children. We do not want our children to be taught that America is systemically racist. Six hundred thousand people died in the Civil War to end racism and slavery. Don't rewrite factual history or indoctrinate, just present the facts. Critical race theory says every white person is a racist. Critical race theory says America is fundamentally racist and irredeemably racist. Diversity and inclusion, equity vs. equality, white privilege, white supremacy, systemic racism, anti-racism wackness, critical race theory. As Democrat and Republican lawmakers yell over each other about the true meaning of critical race theory as parents show up to school boards outraged and scared for the future of their children. And as conversations around race become more marred, I've been sitting in silence, to be honest, a bit stunned. How did this nesh academic framework that was established in the 70s get to being covered daily on the front page of The New York Times and is the main topic in every school board meeting around the country? To answer this question will have to take a bit of a history lesson. So let's go back to the middle of the 1970s. This story is going to start with Professor Derrick Bell, who at the time was working at the University of Washington Law School. Derrick Bell began to notice many of the advances of the civil rights era were coming dramatically slower than what many thought would happen in 1964. Of course, we had the Civil Rights Act. The next year, the Voting Rights Act was passed. And then in 1968, the Fair Housing Act, which looked to end racial discrimination of renting, financing or buying homes, was signed just 72 hours after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.. Regardless of the federal litigation, Bill thought that black Americans were making minimal progress in terms of the various disparities that are associated with being black, whether economically or educationally or socially. So Bill, along with numerous other legal scholars, philosophers and activists, started what was originally called critical legal studies. This was an academic framework meant to challenge the legal frameworks at the time. Right. Of course, our justice system has always claimed that it was objective and rational and prudent and all of the legal decisions. But frankly, anyone with half a brain knows that wasn't always the case and it frankly isn't. Now, how could law be so tilted the favor of the powerful yet be explained to many that the conclusions were somehow democratic and neutral. Over the years, critical legal studies continued and they use this for decades. But they began to branch off other scholars like Richard Delgado and Kimberle Crenshaw, who you'll hear from later on in the podcast, started to form their own version of critical studies. Whether this was focusing on race or gender or politics, they focus from the start on the ways that laws contributed to having illegitimate social hierarchies. Right? These hierarchies produce domination of women by men are it was mostly nonwhites by whites or the poor by the wealthy. Many critics of the theory will claim it is Marxists. And this is somewhat correct because even though is somewhat of an exaggeration, they did use many Marxist theory to make their claims right. Many of the legal scholars borrowed heavily from social theorists like Fringing Ingels or Karl Marx. You may have heard of him to French thinkers like Michel Foucault. And this is where critical race theory comes in, particularly around the 90s. And this started really with Professor of Law Studies at UCLA. Miss Kimberle Crenshaw Crenshaw wanted to examine the effects that race in particular had on legal issues and any following disparities that existed from a long history of legal discrimination. Here she is describing her version of critical studies. Critical race theory just says, let's pay attention to what has happened in this country and how what has happened in this country is continuing to create differential outcomes so we can become that country that we say we are so critical. Race theory is not anti patriotic. In fact, it is more patriotic than those who are opposed to it, because we believe in the 13th and the 14th and 15th Amendment, we believe in the promises of equality and we know we can't get there if we can't confront and talk honestly about inequality. Now, you could probably notice that critical race theory tends to focus on power differences. Right? This is where some of the earliest terms of things like power, privilege, oppression versus oppressor, systemic racism, intersectionality, that's where these terms begin to emerge from nearly 30 years ago is kind of funny due to how people will use the term systemic racism like it's a new term, but this is an old technique. But still, you can see we're setting the groundwork for what's considered modern day anti-racism. Right. And I have a few problems with this, which we'll get into later. But critical legal studies and critical race theory have a, of course, a number of critics, especially today. Right. Some see it lacking coherence. Are they feel as contradictory. Others accuse the movement of being nihilistic, right. Of being pessimistic about the foundations of America's founding. And we'll have to have a real conversation about that later on. But let's keep moving forward to nearly the present day. Of course, we had the death of George Floyd last year and frankly, that set the world on fire. Literally, the conversations around race, systemic racism and social constructions of, say, whiteness or blackness or whether every police officer was inherently racist or if America itself was one of the most. Racist countries ever, and these started to emerge in these conversations, you had the release of How to be an Anti-racist by Imar Makes Kindie the highest selling book of twenty twenty. You also had the release of White Fragility by Robert D'Angelo, also one of the most popular books of 20-20. Now, to me, both of these are somewhat strange ways to discuss race in this country. But both D'Angelo and kindie credit many critical race theorists as building the groundworks for their books. Yet I do feel that modern day anti-racism tends to look at complex issues in no pun intended, black and white. Let's hear Mr. Kindie describe his particular view, said what? First, I'd say there's no such thing as not racist. There's racist and anti-racist and racist ideas suggests that there is something wrong or right, superior or inferior, about a particular group. Modern day or anti-racism, as you just heard with Iran, makes kindie. He feels that policies, ideas, people, thoughts and everything is either racist or anti-racist. And there's frankly no in between. I think those things are I think the modern day anti racism is quite different from critical race theory and critical legal studies. But with all that being said, why are parents attending school board meetings with such fever and veracity that several parents have been arrested for disorderly conduct and overflow crowd parents giving Forsyth County school board members an earful? If you have materials that you're providing, it says if you were born a white male, you were born in a presser, you were abusing our children. One speaker after another accused board members of introducing so-called critical race theory about whites, blacks and U.S. history into the classrooms of parents, saying that CRT is now indoctrinating students disguised in the school system's initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion, or DGI, the VIP program as a Trojan horse that will bring in a slippery slope, a slippery slope that will ultimately end in critical race theory, white repentance and the McDonald's ization of America. Students, please get back to just teaching our children math, science, factual history, equality of opportunity and teaching them how to think and not what to think. I do believe the whole reason that this has become a culture war is because of one man who we're going to talk about, Christopher Rufo. Here he is on Tucker Carlson and coincidentally, getting the ear of a very important person. It's absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government. And what I've discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people. Christopher Rufo, who overnight has turned into a conservative activist because of his work, got incredibly popular last year by posting documents from a Seattle school teacher conference that focused on diversity training. The PowerPoint that had been leaked to him claimed that employees were being divided up by race for implicit bias training, the first slide said, internalized racial superiority for white people. The second slide listed expressions of internalized white supremacy like individualism or objectivity and perfectionism. On his first appearance of Tucker Carlson that I displayed, Rufo grabbed hold of the ear of someone very important, critical race theory. And the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda and ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together. That is why I recently banned trainings in this prejudiced ideology from the federal government and banned it in the strongest manner possible. Trump, because, you know, he got his information from nightly Fox News sources would go on to ban diversity training within three days of this clip and all federal institutions nationwide on the first day of President Biden's administration, he quickly banned and proceeded this implementation by Trump. Rufo has been the center of this culture war, making the rounds across both left and right leaning news programs for months. And he's been pretty good and successful at distorting the narrative of critical race theory. And it seems he's found himself a political opportunity hidden. He's somehow been able to lump together anti-racism weakness and aspects of critical legal studies and critical race theory and put it all together under the bulk of critical race theory. Regardless of whether or not I feel Christopher, Rufo is approaching these issues 100 percent in good faith. He has documented some rather egregious ways in which teachers have tried to have conversations about race, particularly in K through 12 institutions. Here are some examples. An elementary school in Cupertino, California, recently forced a class of third graders to deconstruct their racial identities, and then they ranked themselves according to their power and privilege. The Arizona Department of Education created an equity toolkit, claiming that babies saw the first sign of racism at three months old and that white children become full racists, quote, strongly biased in favor of whiteness by age five. San Diego public schools accuse white teachers of being colonizers on stolen Native American land. They were told, quote, You are racists and you are upholding racist structures, policies and ideas. And they recommend that the teachers undergo, quote, anti-racist therapy. I highly recommend everyone to go on to Christopher Truffaut's website. Christopher Rufo Dotcom, if you're interested in this, I mean, he has 30 pages of examples of some of these incidents happening. I've pretty much clicked on every link that he has provided. And I will say that a lot of them are actually the evidence is there. A lot of them do have examples of, say, power points that are directed by, say, the Department of Education that they send out to various schools. Now, the question for me has always been because I do question how much Rufo has put into this and how much he's approaching this and 100 percent good faith because again, because of his ability to lump together all aspects of, say, anti-racism WOAK ism are critical race theory into one particular bundle of critical race theory. He just puts it all together and says, yep, this is what it is. This is what's happening. He quote, calls it and a quote, indoctrination. He thinks it's Marxists. He thinks it is destroying America's foundation. Granted, Christopher Rufo is also part of the Discovery Institute, which is a creationist think tank. So Christopher Rufo is most likely a creationist, probably doesn't believe in evolution. And that's funny because a lot of the a lot of the reactions, particularly by Republicans at critical race theory, reminds me of the examples of teaching evolution in classrooms back in the 1920s and 30s, where a large portion of, say, for example, Protestant and Christian Republicans thought that evolution was an abject lie. They thought it was Marxist. They thought this was something that was not American and that would destroy the foundation of American education. So they pushed back as far as possible to try to get evolution, not to be taught in classrooms. This, to me, is abject censorship. Once Trump wanted to ban it federally, I knew we had a big problem because I absolutely knew that Donald Trump had no idea what the hell critical race theory was. And he didn't care to know and to think that the political group that always advocates for free thought and free expression, they want to ban free thought and free expression. Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho, Arkansas and many others have banned or is trying to, in the middle of it, ban critical race theory they're trying to ban the 16 19 project was which was a New York Times special magazine cover that discussed that, at least according to Nicole Hannah Jones, the author of it, that America's foundation actually started in sixteen nineteen with the origination of the first African slaves. But this is censorship straight up full stop. The language around these bills are woefully asinine. Arkansas said they would ban teaching that, quote, America is inherently. Racist nation, this is becoming to get really interesting because we've really, really deviated from all the beginning of what I just told you about. Right. Aspects of trying to figure out if racial disparities actually come from racial segregation and how that plays a role in modern day times. We're past that. We're not even talking about that anymore. In fact, what we're actually talking about are most Republicans and even some liberals afraid of saying that America is in itself inherently racist. I don't think this is that much of a crazy thing to say. I really don't. The three fifths compromise was written in the Philadelphia convention in 1787. This is document it. They felt that slaves were three fifths of a human. This wasn't rescinded in 1868. So for nearly 100 years, the foundation of America's institution of of of creating the country, we just celebrated it on July four in the written codified laws. Slaves were not for humans. Here's an example of a school board meeting in which things got out of hand and CRT began to get debated. And I like the ways in which the interviewer really questions how much they know about these actual theories. Republican groups held a panel on school covid shutdowns and CRT. What is critical race theory? Critical race theory is the idea that's taught to our nation's youth that the way that you're born contributes to the amount of success that you can achieve in this country, which states that white people are born with everything. And if you're not white, you're born with nothing. Can you name any critical race theory scholars? Probably not. Can you name any critical race theory concepts? I don't know the concepts. I think I think I think I summarized Burglarized Theory of the world pretty well. Now I'm going to I'm not going to sit here the whole time and just LARP on Republicans, because I think, as I've said before on this podcast, I think they're an easy target. Now, the left has a lot of problems as well. I think they take issues and they look at them solely in black and white. They also try to push it down people's throats if they don't agree with them and they can't accept criticism. So what they do is, even though a lot of liberals are actually have came out and said that they don't really necessarily know if critical race theory is the best way to address aspects of racism, are they feel that anti-racism is not the best way to address disparities, which I'm one of those I'm one of those lefties who don't I don't agree with a lot of aspects of anti-racism. But if you say any of these things around leftist circles, you're perpetrated as solely the enemy. That's one of the biggest problems with left wing politics. And I don't want to just sit here and say that the that I have the best framework for addressing racial equality. But I will say that a lot of the aspects of what we're trying to push upon K through 12 great institutions is not the same way that we should be trying to implement aspects of, say, discussions around race in a college classroom. And that's the big problem here. Right. I do wonder how much when when teachers themselves automatically react to this very strong pushback by particularly Republicans and conservatives, that they kind of double down on believing that, say, anti-racism is the correct way and anti-racism, at least especially post George Floyd, has been really pushed on the American public as being the abject truth about every act of disparity in this country. And I don't necessarily believe that's the case. If if this is taught in classrooms, it should be taught in the same way that it is discussed. Right. It's a critical race. Theory is a theory. This is not the abject truth of what actually happens, say, in reality, and this is not the truth for every single country. This is not the truth for every single context in America. And to kind of parade yourself as being the arbiter of truth, which the left does quite a lot, I think is very, very dangerous. And as I've discussed plenty times on this podcast, we end up talking over each other because we're having two different conversations now. And it seems that, again, this conversation is really just centered around a few things. Right. Is America inherently racist or is America the the greatest and most morally perfect country in the world? You know, should we teach about, you know, the the systemic outcomes of slavery or shouldn't we? Right. Should we say that the constitutional founders in America were all inherently racist or were they just a byproduct of their time and not even spend time on it? Frankly, I'm not even really interested in having these sort of conversations, whether it's this or that, the aspect of real, you know, teaching children how to critically think, which is something that, frankly, America has lost a long time ago, but it is still there to grasp it. And there has to be a way to talk about these complex issues of race and allow the child to try to reach it in the best way possible and their own terms. Right. In a way that is not bias. That is not, you know, based upon some sort of political, you know, ideology. It's about finding the truth for them and finding the truth in particular in the context in which you bring it. And I showed that CNN audio clip. They had another audio clip from from an African-American teacher who taught there. And she gave a great quote. She basically said she's had parents come up to her over the years and they say, why are you teaching me, my kids, that Christopher Columbus was, you know, a murderer? Right. He was a genocidal maniac. Why are you teaching my kids that? And the teacher would always respond, no, I'm I didn't teach them that. We actually literally just sat down and read Christopher Columbus Journal. Right. And in his journal, he discussed this, what he did to the Native American population. Right. And that, to me, is how you really approach a good issue. You don't just ban it. You don't just say, well, this is bull crap and we won't even have it in because I'm not interested in censorship, because censorship is the worst type of of of way to approach education, because all that does is make it stronger. It's almost like the case for Trump, right? We always tried to cancel Trump and the media spent four years wasting their breath when every single thing that Trump said and everything he said was 100 percent, you know, wrong and morally wrong all the time, when, of course, that wasn't the case 100 percent of the time, maybe 98 percent. But regardless, it actually made him stronger because any time you actually brought up something that was a real, you know, moral problem, it didn't matter because you were just, you know, the boy who cried wolf now. So if we can't have discussions about both sides of this argument and be able to say, listen, you have to understand what the theory is saying before trying to implement this very difficult theory in some sort of K through 12 institution. Right. There are examples of classrooms purposely splitting kids up into racialized groups. Right. This room is only for white kids. This room is only for black kids. This room is only for Hispanic children. This is insane. There's no teacher who should be able to go in and say that, you know, white kids, little white kids, you all internalize and you're complicit in evilness. You can't tell black kids that they're that all of their trouble or the function of white people or that you're victims of every single aspect of America's institutions. You can't banish objective measurements of success to avoid stigmatizing future failures. And you can't treat children of different races differently. Any kind of classis racial hierarchy system, it's almost like you're playing, you know, at least some aspects of of some liberals who were kind of playing into this notion of of literally doing the exact opposite of what critical race theory expounds upon. And what's funny, because I really believe that the answer to all of this, even though I criticize some aspects of anti-racism that loves to focus on race being the primary determinant are determinant of an outcome. When that's not the case, the answer itself is actually in critical race theory. It talks about intersectionality and intersectionality is how all of these identities that we carry with us right. Race or gender are sexualization, our sexual orientation or gender orientation, our social class, our geographical location, if we have a disability or not. All of these things can play a role in society. And whether or not an individual has an advantage in a particular area or a disadvantage in a particular area. But as we get older and I would hope that as we get older, we can understand that this is a theory. This this differs greatly upon context. This differs greatly from country to country and even state by state. And if we can't really understand that and have conversations about that without people just reading one particular thing they saw on an on a new source. And saying my white child is not an oppressor or my black child is not oppressed because I have two medical degrees, which is a viral video of some black father who gets up and says he's not oppressed because he has two medical degrees, it's like, OK, man. Yeah, sure. But the theory is not saying that. It's not saying because you're black, you will always be disadvantaged. It says we that that the black population as a whole, because of history, might have a more likely ability to be disadvantaged based upon that race and various other structures. It's not just about race. It's about a whole number of different things, particularly class in my essence. But I feel like I'm kind of just talking to the win here, because all of these complex issues are always boiled down to these binary forms of looking at the world. And frankly, I'm tired of it. And I don't know if I can. I don't know if I can if I sound irritated or frustrated to you all. But I am because as I've as I've learned about this and wanted to come on here and just share my thoughts on on it, I've just gotten really frustrated because it doesn't seem there. They're not that many people who are having real honest conversations anymore. They just want to talk over people. They want to shut down anyone who has an opposing thought, even though liberals love to go in and say, you know, diversity free thought, you know, we love diversity of thought. Well, not no, you don't. You like a thought that aligns with your political worldview. And if it differs from that, then you hate people and you want them to never exist in the world again. Right? I mean, that's just how it goes. And and frankly, I'm tired of it. And I'm trying to speak out more about some of these things that I feel are strange or are dangerous or are not rational. But again, I just want to reiterate my main points before I close out. Yes, critical race theory absolutely has a number of great benefits to it, particularly by looking at the economic and educational disparities that literally hundreds of years of segregation, discrimination and prejudice played a role in, especially aspects of like redlining and housing discrimination. But we're not discussing that. That's not being discussed in K through 12 institutions, at least most of the time. What's actually being discussed is aspects of weakness. Right. Aspects of anti-racism and using these kind of buzz words, language that frankly is a little annoying to me. That's why, you know, when I have a podcast, you're not really going to hear me use the word white supremacy a lot or privilege. You know, at least I'm not going to use privilege just by using white privilege, because I think privilege is a broad concept that has a number of different interests. It's not just about race, even though the social construction of whiteness has always been somewhat of a benefactor in most of American life in the American Foundation. But I think it's important to really flesh these out and not just, you know, stay in your political corner because the other side is reacting to it and trying to, you know, disavow it. Right. Which is the Republicans trying to ban it because, you know, they're scared of ever finding out that, you know, that the founders had slaves. You know, it's like it's like their worldview is upended and they figure that out. But the left also has to understand that there are some flaws to modern day anti-racism that makes a lot of conversations about race incredibly myopic and simplistic to me. And it generalizes too much, way too much. Even sociologists, which I know it's their job to generalize to society. But a lot of the times I don't think they do a great job at it. And I do wonder what the outcome of this is going to be as critical race theory in this outrage against that becomes, you know, greater and greater. And I feel like I'm putting this out at a pretty good time when it's still being discussed, something could happen, you know, anything could happen. And one of these school board meetings, someone could get mad and get in a fight with a teacher or something like that and becomes national news again. So hopefully this kind of makes sense. I know was a lot of educational stuff at the at the beginning, but it's important to understand what we're talking about here. This isn't a simple thing. This is decades worth of academic literature. But regardless, thank you again, everyone, for listening. I've been randon and this has been my discussion on critical race theory in the classroom. As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can, you know, subscribe and follow all of my streaming platforms, Spotify, Apple podcast, Google Stitcher and everything else to get updates on. Don't worry, we'll talk it out. Everyone can have a good one.