Public schools and other educational institutions throughout the nation are pushing critical race theory on unsuspecting students.
Critical race theory is the claim that American institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist. It argues that white people have put up social, economic, and legal barriers between the races in order to maintain their elite status, both economically and politically. In fact, the source of poverty and criminal behavior in minority communities is due exclusively to these barriers.
Already mainstream on college campuses, most of those protesting George Floyd’s death have been taught that every power structure, including the free market, the criminal justice system, and the electoral college, were created specifically to oppress them.
In the future, however, students are not going to have to wait for college to learn these lessons. The indoctrination in “woke” identity politics will have already begun in K-12 education.
The 1619 Project Embraced by Virginia College Admissions Organization
The Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling recently posted a statement on their website in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Part of their statement includes a suggested reading list for educators on race, which includes an endorsement of the 1619 Project.
A series of essays published by the New York Times last year, the 1619 Project reframes U.S. history by arguing that 1619, the year slaves were first brought to Jamestown, is the year of America’s true founding. In partnership with the Times, the Pulitzer Center created a curriculum based on 1619 that they distributed to over 3,500 schools. The curriculum teaches that slavery has had a lasting impact on all U.S. institutions, according to a Pulitzer Center lesson plan. One discussion guide question asks,
How do societal structures developed to support the enslavement of black people, and the anti-black racism that was cultivated in the U.S. to justify slavery, influence many aspects of modern laws, policies, systems, and culture?
In a video created for the curriculum Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 Project, explains that growing up in the Midwest, she “saw the landscape of inequality” through her school bus window.
The most telling portion of the video is when Hannah-Jones discusses American history, first describing 1776 positively as the year that set in motion the most “liberatory democratic experiment in the history of the world.” As she speaks, iconic images play of the pilgrims, the American Founders, the 1950s, and the Statue of Liberty. Then the images begin to rewind, and Hannah-Jones says, “The only way you can believe that this country was the most liberatory democratic nation that the world has ever seen is to, of course, erase the indigenous people who were already here… and to ignore the enslaved Africans.”
Hannah-Jones claims that nearly everything in modern American life is tainted by the legacy of slavery. She points to incarceration rates, the lack of universal healthcare, the length of maternity leave, minimum wage laws, low rates of union membership, highway systems, explicitly and implicitly discriminatory laws, and poorly performing school systems in minority neighborhoods as examples of the continued effects of racism.
Hannah-Jones contends that the most fulfilling part of the Project has been how educators around the nation have embraced it. According to her, the 1619 narrative is being taught in every state; seven school districts have adopted it as mandatory reading for high-school students.
VAIS Pushes Critical Race Theory on Educators
An email sent by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools to educators provides a list of resources for teacher training on race. A June 19th email I received from a teacher and dean at a private Christian school explicitly endorses the idea of systemic racism.
A resource guide the VAIS recommends includes a list of over 40 books for anti-racist teachers, with an attached warning that reads, “White Fragiles Beware!” The post goes on to state,
Lots of books will make you feel comfortable with your whiteness and whiteness in general, even for people of color. White fragility needs to take a back seat. Fall back Karen. It’s time to talk about dismantling white supremacy culture and bringing folks of color (the global majority) to the center.
Among such popular books as White Rage and White Fragility is How To Be An Antiracist by America’s leading anti-racist scholar Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi argues that there is no such thing as a non-racist idea. There are only “racist ideas and antiracist ideas.” Kendi writes, “Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity.”
Kendi defines a racist as anyone who supports “a racist policy through their actions or inaction.” In the chapter devoted to capitalism, he argues, “Capitalism is essentially racist,” and “racism is essentially capitalist.” Kendi makes clear that racism occurs when there is any disparity between races, no matter how minor.
VAIS Pushes Critical Race Theory on Parents
VAIS recommends that parents learn how to talk to their children about race with the guidance of a website called raceconscious.org. In one post parents are instructed on how to talk about Thanksgiving or what they call “Thanks-taking”:
A long time ago, a group of White people called the Pilgrims came from Europe to what we now call the United States. They came here because they didn’t have freedoms where they lived and it wasn’t fair… But, there were other people already living here called Native Americans or American Indians. Over time, more and more White people came here and ended up hurting the Native Americans. So in the end, the Pilgrims got their freedoms, but the American Indians lost those same freedoms. Today, there are still a lot of people who don’t have access to the same freedoms and privileges that the Pilgrims came to the United States to find.
Critical Race Theory Discounts Responsibility and Agency
A key tenet of critical race theory is that crime is a result of social circumstances and thus relieves criminals of culpability, a theory raceconscious.org endorses. In the section of their website that discusses race conscious children’s books, parents can learn how to talk about social issues with their kids, which includes everything from race and gender identity to bullying and sexual exploration.
A post on a story about stealing from a book in the Madeline series instructs parents to teach, “This is showing a man stealing money, which is wrong… but I don’t like that the book is calling him ‘bad’ just because he is stealing. We live in a world where not everyone has everything they need. And that is also wrong.”
This is exactly how many who have been protesting and looting across the nation have justified their actions. For example, at a June 7th protest in Washington, D.C. a protestor argued that funds which usually go to the police should instead be invested in black communities. Her key argument was that the only reason there is crime in black communities is because the people who live there are poor. If they were given more money, she argued, they wouldn’t need to steal.
Entire California School System to Partner with Critical Race Theory Apologists
California State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond said in an interview, “We are going to build a training module to allow school districts to engage in training on implicit bias.” He also announced California’s partnership with the National Equity Project (NEP), which trains educators on how to handle inequity in their schools and communities.
A recent post by NEP Executive Director LaShawn Routé Chatmon states:
With structural inequities laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic, now worsened by further evidence of racial terror being waged against Black bodies… We can no longer deny the violence, pain and loss that is being disproportionately beset upon Black people and Black communities. . . .
As a former history teacher, I know that these are not isolated incidents but rather a continuation of a long history of anti-Black oppression our communities have had to endure. Its roots are structural and interrelated; our education, healthcare, and justice systems are equally imbued with the same roots of white supremacy and othering.
One way the organization suggests dismantling racism is by re-educating teachers on how to talk about race in the classroom. One post on their site titled “There is No Neutral on Racism and Hate: Back to School for White Educators” instructs white educators on how to help their white students understand white privilege.
CRT’s Stifling Effects on Civil Society
To see the effects of critical race theory on American society just turn on the news. There you will see protestors calling to defund the police and end capitalism, rioters looting and burning down their own communities, groups of radicals taking over entire city blocks and setting up their own form of government, and mobs tearing down statues of American heroes.
Such events are a direct result of what these woke activists have been taught by college professors and supported by the media elite. In fact, Hannah-Jones has explicitly endorsed lawless rioting as a natural consequence of the lessons taught in the 1619 Project. She responded to Charles Kesler’s New York Post article titled “Call them the 1619 riots” with a tweet saying, “It would be an honor.”
No pre-existing institution, law, or aspect of American culture is safe from accusations of systemic racism. Anything that is not deemed acceptable to anti-racist ideology must be cancelled. If four years of college can create such radicals, what will an additional thirteen years of indoctrination do?
Krystina Skurk is a research assistant at Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C. She received a master's degree in politics from Hillsdale’s Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship.