CRT from the perspective of conservative Black Americans
Critical Race Theory has generated heated debate – often between groups who do not even have a clear understanding of what is meant by CRT. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (naacpldf.org) offers this as a definition:
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is an academic and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is part of American society — from education and housing to employment and healthcare. Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is more than the result of individual bias and prejudice. It is embedded in laws, policies and institutions that uphold and reproduce racial inequalities.
Today’s column will offer the perspective of several prominent conservative Black Americans who not only disagree with the tenets of CRT, but believe that its ideas are detrimental. They believe, as do Republicans, that America of today is not a racist country. They detest the brainwashing of Black youth; CRT tells them that they are victims of oppression and therefore incapable of success without government help.
This is not to say that there are no racist individuals in the United States, nor to deny that the evils of slavery stain our past. But Winsome Sears, the new Black Republican Lieutenant Governor of Virginia laughed during a Wall Street Journal interview in January at the idea that America is racist “when we’ve had a Black president elected not once but twice, Black secretaries of state, and Black billionaires. Democrats tell us there’s nothing we can do to better ourselves and that we should let them take care of us.”
Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development stated on a Fox newscast last July, “Growing up poor in Detroit, if I had believed, as Critical Race Theory (CRT) proponents claim, that my fate was based on my race, I would not be where I am today. We cannot allow CRT to rob American children of the same hope that was instilled in me.”
Bob Woodson, a civil-rights activist and resident of the American Enterprise Foundation for Public Policy Research seconds Carson’s assertion that CRT can be a roadblock for Black Americans. He says, “It’s really planting seeds of Black self-doubt and it is wreaking havoc in our communities.”
Jason Riley, a prolific author, fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a member of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wrote last summer, “[Critical Race Theory] is less a serious academic discipline than a hustle. It posits that racial inequality today is the sole fault of whites and the sole responsibility of whites to solve—through racial preferences for Blacks. It’s employed by elites primarily for the benefit of elites, though in the name of helping the underprivileged. Ultimately, it’s about blaming your problems on other people—based on their race—which might be the last thing we should be teaching our children.”
Riley seems to imply that elites benefit by patronizing the underprivileged. Shelby Steele, another renowned author and fellow at the Hoover Institution puts it more bluntly, “Critical Race Theory is bogus. To me as a minority, it’s demeaning, dehumanizing. But it is a currency with which whites can buy innocence in the marketplace.”
Kendall Qualls, who came in second for endorsement in a crowded field of talented Republican gubernatorial candidates, founded an organization called TakeCharge that counters the negative messages delivered by CRT. On its website (takechargemn.com), its statement of purpose includes the following:
At TakeCharge we are committed to countering the prevailing narrative in popular culture that America is structured to undermine the lives of Black Americans. We acknowledge that racist people exist in the country, but explicitly reject the notion that the United States of America is a racist country. This is a subtle, but significant difference! We also denounce the idea that the country is guilty of systemic racism, white privilege and abhor the concept of identity politics and the promotion of victimhood in minority communities – a notion supported by Critical Race Theory.
Finally, in his response to President Biden’s address to the nation in April 2021, Senator Tim Scott acknowledged that there are still individuals who judge people by the color of their skin, “I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason.” But his speech was positive about America and he emphatically stated, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.”
America is not racist. And it is wrong to inculcate into the minds of young Black Americans an attitude of victimhood and helplessness.