Thinking Critically about Racism in Texas
“A must-attend event!” reads a recent Facebook post by Granbury school district trustee Dr. Paula McDonald.
The topic? Critical Race Theory (CRT), the concept that developed from academic scholarship in the 1970s through the late 1980s as a means of understanding the relationship between race and power and the role history played in shaping them. CRT is now a leading theory used by teachers, professors, and anyone who cares to understand why wealth is largely a function of race in the United States (“ Bridging America’s Wealth Divide,” Aug 2020) and other not-so-fun facts of American life.
The Facebook post urges folks to learn about the “extremely important topic from a leading expert,” Carole Hayes, on Wed, June 16, at 2504 James Rd in Granbury.
One school district trustee gunning for an expert to speak on CRT wouldn’t catch our attention were it not for the fact that Hayes appears to be bat-shit crazy.
“They intend for America to become part of a New World Order under their control,” Hayes writes about CRT on her blog. “Big Tech leaders are pushing Critical Race Theory into their elite private schools and executive boardrooms because that’s their comfort zone with easy access.”
The debate over CRT is ramping up in Fort Worth, the entire state, and several other conservative backwaters. In May, a few dozen parents attended a Fort Worth school board meeting to decry the teaching of CRT in Fort Worth classrooms, even though CRT is not taught in Fort Worth public schools. The school district’s website does state that teachers can voluntarily elect to take a “flex credit” course on CRT.
Surrounded by placards that read, “STOP RACISM, STOP HATE, STOP CRITICAL RACE THEORY,” one young Hispanic man said that America is not a racist country. If it were, he reasoned, half the school board members who are non-white would not be in their volunteer positions. It’s the same argument that I-have-a-lot-of-Black-friends racists have been using for years: If America were racist, Barack Obama wouldn’t have won the popular vote twice, LeBron James would be shooting hoops at the park, and, I guess, Drake would be a karaoke-night fave, nothing more. The thought that these geniuses thrived despite enduring racism never occurs to folks like our Hispanic friend, whose sole purpose in life apparently is to be white-adjacent. (News flash: Most whites still hate you.)
House Bill 3979 recently passed as a partisan measure to restrict the teaching of CRT tenets in Texas public schools. The bill includes mandates that students not be taught that an individual’s race is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
That legislative edict is based on the false assumption on the part of conservative Texas legislators that CRT is designed to teach white children that they are somehow to blame for racial inequities in the United States. Texas lawmakers and other who?-me? racists claim this form of instruction is racist … against white people.
Calling you a “cracker” or instituting Affirmative Action programs to remedy decades of bias against Black students and job seekers may make you sad, and angry *grumpy face*, but neither has the power to damage the socioeconomic or political privilege with which you were born as a white person.
“Racism has nothing to do with feelings,” The Root said in 2018. “It is a measurable reality that white people are not subject to, regardless of their income or status.”
The Republican-led whitesplaining of American history also bans the teaching that “the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States,” a not-so-subtle reference by Texas Republican legislators to The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Aiming to reframe American’s founding to 1619, the long-form endeavor traces the country’s history to when an English privateer ship brought the first enslaved men and women to the Colony of Virginia.
This year alone, nearly a dozen states introduced Republican-backed bills that seek to limit what can and cannot be taught about the role slavery played and continues to play in shaping this country.
Erica Gillum, a parent with a son and nephew in the Granbury school district, told us she came across the June 16 event via Facebook.
Carole Hayes’ public school advocacy “swims in a cesspool of Christian nationalism,” Gillum said. “Everyone who is paying attention knows that CRT has been banned from the public education curriculum in Texas. I believe that sends us backwards. CRT is a potentially important tool for emancipation and for securing racial equality. It can be easily misunderstood and misapplied, especially when you invite the wrong person to speak to a small, predominately white community. I have lived here [in Granbury] for the majority of my life, and I can tell you firsthand, we don’t need any more whitewashing. I don’t appreciate Dr. McDonald’s invitation to bring this to our community, and, frankly, we need to do better vetting before voting these types of people into office.”
Conservatives with no academic or scholarly qualifications are quick to denounce CRT and to misrepresent its aims. Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founders of Critical Race Theory, recently spoke to CNN about the misinformation campaign surrounding CRT.
“Critical Race Theory says let’s pay attention to what has happened to this country,” she said, “so we can become the country that we say we are. 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.”