A Critical Race Theory Primer

Guest post by JP

(From an Ethics Alarms Open Forum)

A while ago I told you all about my opportunity to run for the school board. I didn’t win (not even close). The incumbent and a teacher at the local university were the winners. I (and another conservative candidate) decided that we were going to do our civic duty and attend the meetings anyway (they are open to the public). We learned that the next one was going to have someone there proposing CRT for our school system. This worried me and the other woman a lot, so we decided to prepare a rebuttal.

CRT (Critical Race Theory) is a ideology that asserts that at its core the United States is a fundamentally racist country. This means that all aspects and institutions such as our system of government, our laws, our economy, and equal protection are built upon protecting white supremacy and keeping down black people and minorities. However, CRT does not limit itself to only white supremacy; it also seeks to protect people from so called white institutions such as capitalism and patriarchy, and the nuclear family.

The idea of CRT is not new, going back at least 40 years. It is typically attributed to two CRT scholars, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Theirwork is built upon a twisted definition of racism that isn’t what the average person would understand. Most people understand racism to be prejudice against a particular person or group of individuals based on skin color (or perhaps even culture). Going back to their book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Stefancic and Delgado argue there is no objective way to define racism, essentially arguing that it is whatever the everyday experience is for a person of color in this country. This leads us to our first two big problems with CRT: Interest convergence and  lived experience.

Interest convergence is another ideology or subset of CRT that argues the only reason white people help minorities is when it also benefits their own self interest. Derrick Bell (Building on the work of Delgado and Stefancic) believes that the only reason racism persist in our society is white (both elite and working class) have little incentive or interest in eradicating it. Therefore, when they do, it serves their interests. Here Bell uses the example of Brown v. Board of Education. What should have been a landmark case to our society is nothing more than ulterior motive to serve the self-interest of whites.

Interest convergence creates a sad and ironic twist. If you are white, it damns you if you do, and  damns you if you don’t. Proponents of CRT state that there is no sitting on the side lines of racism. If you are not actively working against it, you are part of the problem. However, interest convergence says the only reason you are actively helping is not to make society better, but because you are really just serving your whiteness…which brings us to “privilege.”

White privilege is another part of CRT ideology that argues if you are born white, despite all hindrances, you are automatically better off than minorities. As life progresses, you will always have a leg up. When combined, interest convergence and anti-racism mean you must acknowledge your sins as a white person, and even though you are doing “anti-racism” to benefit yourself and your whiteness, others must see your repentance so they know how bad your whiteness is, therefore advancing their cause.

Now lets look at the other problem: the lived experience. In sociology the lived experience is an experience you or particular individuals partake in due to your surroundings, culture, race, home life, job, and many other factors that may or may not apply to anyone else. For example, while I lived in China for 5 years, it was a completely different experience from the native Chinese who have lived there all their lives, a completely different experience than a Chinese-American visiting China for the first time, but was very similar to most of the expatriotss who have lived there for at least a year or two. The lived experience isn’t a problem, but it offers a different prospective on life. It is the reason qualitative studies exist. However, in CRT cant there are no individuals, only groups. Therefore blacks collectively share the same desires and experiences with other blacks, and  whites share the same desires and experiences as all other whites. Since blacks were historically the recipients of racism at the hands of white people in the United States, all blacks  experience racism because whites collectively demand white supremacy. This is also one of the reasons why proponents of CRT argue blacks cannot be guilty of racism.

I’m going to come back to this idea in a moment, but first let me focus on a different problem with CRT: the rejection of science, reason, evidence, and free thinking. Perhaps you have read articles or seen headlines that say something like, “Math is racist.” This is a very simplified version of the problem, but it is also built upon the work of Delgado and Stefancic.

In their book they write, “First, that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—‘normal science,’ the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country.” Since modern science was predominately produced by white, Western men, CRT views science as a white and Western way of thinking that ensures and perpetuates white dominance. At its core CRT is arguing that science cannot be objective but must is an oppressive social  construct.

Here we see the lived experience and interest convergence, as well as racism, intersect. Since white people are the creators of the current scientific method, it is only another form of white supremacy.  Therefore (paraphrasing Delgado and Stefancic) black people aren’t served by science. Sharing their lived experience is the best route to producing and advancing knowledge. This is incredibly insulting to black people and white people alike. Not only is it the worst case of bigotry of low expectations I have ever seen, it supposes the absolute worst in people. With this kind of language I can’t imagine white people or black people ever getting along, let alone ever overcoming racism.

Ignoring CRT’s many other problems, I want to share only two more before I go to two bad examples of its current use. The first problem is the CRT rejects all potential alternatives as solutions for racism, especially that it will be fixed with the passage of time. While studies have shown we have become significantly less racist since the Civil War and even less so since the civil rights movements in the 50-60s, CRT says the only way racism will diminish is by focusing on race all the time. This is why so much time and devotion is given by CRT proponents to find racism in every situation and every interaction. It is why you have to find “hidden” racism in your job, school, society, church, etc… If you can’t find anything, the problem isn’t that it doesn’t exist, the problem is you. I read an biography by a Chinese person living in Mao’s China that said the Party used to say this exact same thing. Based on these assumptions, racism will never be overcome.

The second problem is you are not allowed to disagree with CRT. To disagree with it automatically makes you a racist and therefore, the person you are disagreeing with doesn’t have to listen to you. A dissenter or critic is judged based on the collective lived experience, and those lived experiences must reflect the over-arching problem that racism is a constant in our society. This statement is so strong, it doesn’t even protect you if you are black. The treatment of Kanye West is a famous example of this happening, but a lesser known black man, Daryl Davis, was called a white supremacist because he was willing to associate with racists (he is famous for talking people out of the KKK). Nikole Hannah-Jones sums up this problem nicely by saying that there is racially black and politically black. This is the concept Joe Biden was channeling when he he told a black audience that if they didn’t vote for him, they weren’t black.

Summing up, I want to mention two works that use CRT. The first is the best seller, “White Fragility.” According to the author (Robin DiAngelo) I am guilty of white fragility just for writing this statement. Because I enjoy white comfort, any idea that challenges that comfort or my interest prevents me from confronting my racism. Therefore anything I say must to defend myself from the accusation of racism must always be treated as suspect.

While I roll my eyes at the first, the second is a bigger concern for me: the “1619 Project.” I’m going to ignore the stealth edits, the fact that Hannah-Jones won her Pulitzer in commentary, her  lies about what she said or did not say regarding the project, despite the fact that the internet is forever, and focus on what is being used is propaganda as history. Elementary and secondary schools across the country are adding the 1619 Project to their history curriculum despite the inaccuracies and historians’ objections to its content. The most obvious distortion is its central claim that  the US started in 1619. Historian James Oakes had this to say about it: “[T]he project asserts the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain’ in order to ensure slavery would continue. This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding—yet every statement offered by the Project to validate it is false.”

What happened in this project is everything I mentioned above. It was built upon the “lived experience,” which would have been acceptible as anecdotal evidence and supplements to history, but they are not historical fact. The people who objected to the project’s assertions were wrong, not because their facts were wrong, but because they had “hidden motives.” When challenged by Sen. Tom Cotton, who brought a bill to prevent its teaching in public school systems as uncontested fact, Commentary Magazine noted:

“Cotton’s initiative, which is more a political statement than legislation, would strip schools of federal funding equivalent to the amount of instructional time dedicated to teaching the 1619 Project. ‘This bill speaks to the power of journalism more than anything I’ve ever done in my career,’ Hannah-Jones wrote while promoting the Pulitzer Center’s ‘educational resources and curricula’ designed to ‘bring ‘The 1619 Project’ into your classroom.’ American education, implied in the series of articles she subsequently promoted, does not adequately teach ‘the history of American slavery.’ And what is objective knowledge anyway? ‘LOL,’ the Pulitzer-recipient wrote when confronted with Civil War historian James MacPherson’s assertion that the project ‘lacked context and perspective.’ ‘Right,’ she continued, ‘because white historians have produced truly objective history.’

Commentary Magazine sums up this section by essentially saying the use of the 1619 project in schools is a waste of time. There is a lot wrong with how we see and study history, but the 1619 project would have us debate it before learning it (this is a lot nicer than what I would have said).

I would like to sum up my thoughts on all of this with the following statements:

First, CRT is itself racist. To use it is to practice racism. If your not sure, just ask Coke-cola, Disney, or even any of those Silicon Valley places that have tried it and rejected it.

Second, if you’re going to try it, because it is racism, you are risking a lawsuit. People are going to only put up with you telling them they are horrible for so long. Keep it up in the lawyers will get involved.

Finally, the demands of CRT activists can never be satisfied.  If you don’t choose to stop it, all you can do is pray that it doesn’t come for you.

23 thoughts on “A Critical Race Theory Primer

      • Or a self-hating white, just like guys like Noam Chomsky (is that guy EVER going to die?) are self-hating Jews.

      • I’m not sure I complete agree with this. CRT uses a lot of deception to get proponents. Sort of like talking to someone who says there a feminist because feminist is about equality between all sexist. A lot of people who support CRT believe they are doing so because of the need to address short comings in diversity.

          • [You asked for someone smarter, but, so far at least, you’ll have to settle for a dumbass with perhaps a bit different perspective.]
            I know a few people who have pretty much bought into CRT. They are intelligent, caring, reasonably successful. So far as I can tell, their starting point is the idea that people are created equal. Given their ages, their education almost certainly devoted much more time to civil rights than to western philosophical thought, so they would be more cognizant of discrimination, both overt and hidden. They have encountered instances of overt prejudice in their adult lives, as I’m sure we all have. The progression for them, I believe, is that there must still be hidden discrimination to account for the differences in achievement.
            Well, then, why overlook personal agency? It takes some very serious introspection and self-analysis to get to the point where we accept our own responsibility for our station in life. Much easier to blame parents, schools, bosses, circumstances, etc. Projecting that onto a group we care about and one we know has been subjected to discrimination makes it easier to downplay personal agency, look at outcomes, and just know there must be systemic causes. This is not necessarily anti-white nor self-hating. Instead, it may represent a sincere effort on their part to fix something they see as being broken, thus, a continuation of the civil rights movement.
            There are, of course, others who sense an opportunity to line their pockets or gain some power or status by beating the CRT drum. Not all those on one side or the other of an issue are part of a monolith.

          • I’m not excusing their behavior. Deliberate or mistaken, they should still be accountable for their actions. I just don’t know that it is intentional and Halon’s Razor says we should assume ignorance instead of malice.

  1. I don’t recall seeing a better COTD here. I was familiar with some of the points JP made, but this really fleshed out the whole concept of CRT. For me, the single most important lie in CRT is the denial of objectivity; without objectivity, there is no rebuttal of CRT.
    I tried to read Kendi with an open mind; what struck me about being an anti-racist is that one cannot possibly be that all the time as Kendi advocates; seeing the inherent contradiction between interest convergence and full-time anti-racist would put an end to Kendi’s thesis for anyone thinking objectively.

    • Thanks Johnny, I appreciate it. I tried to supplement Kendi into the article, but I decided I couldn’t write about him without getting worked up about it myself. I don’t understand how’s someone so hateful has the position and power he does.

      • You should see the stuff about Kendi I edited out, mostly just rants which would highlight my inherent racism. 😉

  2. I’m afraid that CRT has evolved into the proponents of it as their truth. How these academics became scholars is beyond me. Never mind any contradictory evidence for this flat earth theory: Like the Nazis who believed that a good Jew was an oxymoron, the so called scholars who developed this theory refuse to accept any evidence that refutes their claim that American is founded on racism and white privilege.

  3. You nailed it! The core of CRT literally pits people against each other based on race and racializes every single interaction between a white and non-white person. Instead of looking at people first as people and only secondarily noticing race, CRT forces us to hyperfocus on race. I think it is motivated by a combination of white guilt and envy of the rich (though not exclusively, since some of the proponents of it are black).

    I’ve come to realize a lot of the left is motivated by envy. There are honest liberals who care about what they perceive to be unfairness in America, and then there are progressives who absolutely hate anyone who is more successful than them in any way, shape, or form. Anything that seems to make a sharp distinction in merit seems to ignite their ire unless of course they are talking down to people who haven’t been to college by using all the latest buzzwords about intersectionality, cisgender, heteronormality, and the like. It’s a blatant attempt at intellectual intimidation.

    • I think most leftist are like most on the right. They just want to make it through their own lives. Unfortunately, we get to hear more from those in power.

  4. I said it yesterday in this blog, and I’ll say it again and again, in varying ways as appropriate:

    White-beating, such as CRT and BLM (for examples) promote, is merely a fad. It’s a fad that might last for a few more centuries, thanks to how Marxists manage to emerge again and again, generation after generation, with their high-minded-sounding bullshit which is merely a manufactured religion. Marxism’s “force of movement” is a desperate ploy for establishing relevance for desperate, perverse people who are too stupid to be worthy of relevance.

    But, if you really take a close look at it, and think about it, you will deduce the truth about today’s Marxism’s emphasis on white-beating: it is nothing new. It is simply re-packaged, “re-imagined” anti-Semitism, which has been around for centuries longer than Marxism.

    I’ll even offer some Ku Klux Klan history to reinforce what I just said above. The Klan was originally an anti-Semitic movement and force. Along came freed African slaves in America. Hence black-beating (as opposed to today’s white-beating) became the convenient fad to launch, in order to promote the irrelevant haters’ relevance. Thank God that fad only thrived for only a little longer than a century. Oh yeah, sure, there are still 19th-century Klansmen among us, with the same old discredited excuses to hate and persecute and self-promote their undeserved relevance. But those dopes are being relegated to even more irrelevance than they have so consistently throughout their history relegated to themselves, by today’s Marxists.

    What’s the matter, white boys? You don’t feel like Jews have long had to feel, yet? You don’t think you’ve been successfully and sufficiently niggerized, yet? Grow your balls bigger – come on, yes, you can – and take on these white-beating Marxists. Take ’em to the mat. Take ’em down. Use force. As much force as necessary. Start NOW. Do it with more than talk, because you can be sure your white-beating enemies are going to continue to do their fad-perpetuation with much more than talk – for as long as you let them. Work to win. Marxists play to lose.

    • Wow! I had to read it twice to be sure I was getting the intent. I was. Feels good to be reading something without fear of it being censored or banned. Thanks for the post and thanks also to Jack for having the smarts to keep this blog alive and well.

  5. Thanks Jack for the guest column. I think it would be interesting to write an addendum on this that is a little more ethic focused. It seems pretty obvious that CRT is against Kantian, Utilitarian, Virtue Ethics, Contractualism, Deontology and even Consequentialism, but I think a rebuttal that focused on these things would be more in line with the blog. Perhaps If I have some time I will do that.

    Also follow up: The woman and I met with the school board president and the Superintendent yesterday. It turns out it may have not been necessary. There was some confusion about a presentation being done by the school diversity officer that wasn’t even happening at the board meeting and far as they could tell didn’t have anything to do with CRT. They did take our questions about it seriously and the board president said he would let us know what it became of it. On the plus side, I talked to him afterwards and he said he had already been researching the stuff himself and was worried about it.

  6. I copied the original post for future reference. JP seems to have done considerable research on CRT and its underlying precepts. I also see a great deal of Marx and Engels in the strategy to empower labor. Irrespective of whether or not these ideas are used to usher in some Marxist utopia or simply a power play to make $$$ by dividing the races the negative ideas about whites as a class are no more valid than say Blacks are oversexed and lazy or violent as a group. Why no one has challenged them on that is a mystery.

  7. CRT is a kafkatrap. A kafkatrap is a rhetorical device in which any denial by an accused person serves as evidence of guilt. Either you agree you are racist, or you are racist for not agreeing. The mere fact that they are using kafkatraps in their rhetoric makes their rhetoric unethical.

  8. Someone mentioned that a number of people on the Left who support CRT start with the belief that all people are equal. Someone else mentioned that a lot on the Left are motivated by envy. I believe that these two ideas are related. When when the Continental Congress adopted the “all men are created equal” text drafted by Thomas Jefferson, their intent was not to establish individual equality, which is an impossibility. They were trying to make the case that all men were created by God with the same natural rights, including the right to determine the form of government they would live under. They were saying that the American colonists, as a nation and a people, had the same rights to self-government as other nations and peoples. Because Americans possessed this “self-evident” fundamental right, they intended to organize new independent governments within each of the states and collectively assume their “separate and equal station” with other countries. It was only years after the American Revolution that people began to interpret “all men are created equal” as having anything to do with individual equality.
    It is then only a small step from believing that “all people are (individually) equal” to expecting equality of outcome. “So, if I am equal to everyone else, why do so many have so much more then I have?” Envy looks for external causes for poor outcomes rather than looking to self. “It must be because ‘those people’ (pick your target group of oppressors) are keeping me back.” Thus is much class warfare and racial hatred conceived and born.
    CRT feeds into this mindset and lays everything “wrong” at the feet of the white race.

  9. Ah, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/12/28/an-ethics-alarms-holiday-challenge-identify-the-rationalizations-logical-fallacies-falsehoods-and-outright-errors-in-this-essay-advocating-limits-on-speech/

    Delgado and Stefanic, though, argue the price for freedom in this case may be higher than we think. For example, a John Hopkins study published in 2013 concluded that being exposed to racism can lead to high blood pressure and stress among African Americans. Similarly, according to research by Claude Steele at Cornell, negative stereotypes affect African-American self-perception, and can lead to lower test scores.

  10. On a related note to see CRT in real time.

    https://www.quora.com/Were-the-Capitol-Hill-protesters-really-insurrectionists/answer/Tom-Finnell-2?comment_id=200064653&comment_type=2&__filter__=all&__nsrc__=notif_page&__sncid__=15035844389&__snid3__=21318077772

    Only problem with your answer is that, no one involved in the Portland, Seattle protest, etc was trying to overthrow the government, they just wanted the government to listen to and deal with their legitimate concerns.

    Equating BLM with the thugs of 1/6 is really despicable.

    – Shawn Casey O’Brien

    How does trying to burn down a federal courthouse in Portland cause the government to listen to legitimate concerns?

    – Me

    Now, as I am not much for burning down things, I can understand why people might try to burn down a courthouse, particularly people of color, who have gotten little in the way of justice for hundreds of years.

    I can understand it, without condoning it.

    I can also see how that might make people in authority, sit down and start taking the concerns of those black and brown communities seriously.

    As Martin Luther King said: Riots are the voice of the unheard.

    – Shawn Casey O’Brien

    So too, I understand the Capitol rioters.

    They were unheard.

    – Me

    Angry White people have been listened to for over 400 years in America.

    – Shawn Casey O’Brien

  11. It appears that Nicole Hannah-Jones has been denied tenure at the University of North Carolina. Here is FIRE’s statements:

    I haven’t checked what UNC’s standards for professorial tenure are but i figure making politics out of something not supported by the historical record would seem to be disqualifying.

    jvb

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