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The Sad Case of Critical Race Theory

John is a middle-school business teacher, happily married since 1989 and grateful to have been given the gift of life.

Photo By Mark Stosberg on Unsplash

Photo By Mark Stosberg on Unsplash

Definition of Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic effort to identify and examine the presence of racism across our culture. It is also a body of assertions which attempts to explain racial disparities and counter prejudice.

Critical Race Theory's Critical Flaw

CRT has some critical flaws, which will receive attention in this article. Probably the saddest aspect of CRT is that it is a theory which is not tangible enough to suggest a solution to perceived racial disparities. And it is a theory which has little viable direct evidence for its legitimate practical use as a driver of social change. In contrast is Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, of which it’s tenets have a lot of support from experiential work. “Einstein stated that the theory of relativity belongs to a class of ‘principle-theories.’ As such, it employs an analytic method, which means that the elements of this theory are not based on hypothesis but on empirical discovery.” That is, there are some aspects of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity that have been shown to be true by repeated scientific experimentation. So while Einstein’s theory of Relativity is intellectually invigorating and readily accessible to the layperson in terms of published scientific evidence, CRT is neither. It is too nebulous to be stimulating and its very complex sociological nature does not readily offer the average person the means to understand or assess it via published study results. While the post-modernists of today would claim that CRT does not need validation via traditional scientific approaches, they should still be asking if more can be done to bring light to this theory so that regular people, not just academics, can “get behind” it.

CRT is Circumstantial, Not Helpful

One part of the Theory of Relativity, the idea of time dilation, was given supportive evidence when two identical atomic (read super-accurate) clocks were compared after a period. One clock was placed on an airplane and the other left at sea level. The clock on the plane, after it’s flight around the world, registered less time passing than the stationary sea-level clock, supporting the idea that reference frames are independent and thus the experience of time is different for observers in different frames of reference. In other words, in different frames of reference, as in the person on the plane versus a person on the ground, the person in the plane aged a minuscule amount of time less than the person on terra firma. Hard to believe, but true! In fact, if time dilation was not accounted for in our Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network, the system would simply not work. That is, experiential evidence supports the theory of time dilation and one can look it up and digest the scientific work that was done and how it has helped our lives. Try to find this type of direct evidentiary information about CRT. No, not just circumstantial information such as how much less blacks make than whites, or how black’s prison presence is higher in proportion to their presence in the general population. Rather, information linking the circumstantial information to direct evidence is necessary; that is, the actual laws or policies or situations or traditions or structures that result in the compromised lives of black people in the United States. Then we can have praxis.

CRT Has No Praxis

Is CRT based on experiential discovery like the theory of Relativity? Can one readily look it up and understand the process by which it “occurs?” No, as implied in the preceding paragraph. There is much circumstantial data, but that is not enough. Further, getting the data required for direct evidence may prove to be difficult according to Nancy Garcia, the primary author of "QuantCrit: rectifying quantitative methods through critical race theory:" “We argue that quantitative approaches cannot be adopted for racial justice aims without an ontological reckoning that considers historical, social, political, and economic power relations.” So, while society-wide acknowledgement of CRT requires quantification, that quantification will probably not be forthcoming due to the complexity of the intersectional facets involved. And that condition reflects a primary criticism of Critical Theory in general: it does not lend itself to “praxis.” Praxis “is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized” according to Wikipedia. Apparently, the kind of information which would support a “solution” to the problems identified by CRT is hard if not impossible to come by for the regular person trying to gain insight into the state of racial equality in the United States. After all, Civil Rights has been a thing for 50 years. Even if the circumstantial data were to be accepted as valid for accusations of white supremacy or systemic racism, what would the praxis be? Forcefully removing people from their jobs and reshuffling so that an equal number of people of each race are present as employees in each industry or company? Sending “Salary Equality” squads to force businesses to pay each employee the same amount? Defunding the police? Seriously, what should be done? CRT has no answer either. This is the sad case of critical race theory.

CRT Is Based on Another Unsupported Theory

This brings us to the second-saddest aspect of CRT, that it presupposes institutional or systemic racism, the idea that prejudice drives the machinery of our society. “…CRT scholars attempt to understand how victims of systemic racism are affected by cultural perceptions of race…” So, a legitimate pursuit of the validity of CRT starts with the validation of systemic racism! Yet the evidence for systemic racism is equally elusive as that for CRT! While it is true that there are troubling statistics about black life in America, it is not even remotely clear that our public institutions and our free market meritocracy “power structure” are the causes of higher prison rates or lower incomes for blacks. For example, how does the accusation of systemic racism square up with the practice of affirmative action practiced by many states in America? Any American, regardless of their racial station in life, can become trained or educated and pursue their goals; one does not need Ivy League membership to accomplish this.

CRT is Missing Vital Direct Evidence

The proponents of systemic racism claim that the CR theory’s detractors are simply blaming the black “victims” for the problems in black society. Yet, the “evidence” they cite for systemic racism is simply that blacks are less well off than whites in terms of material wealth and income. They posit how much less the average black family in the United States earns compared to that of the white family. However, those statistics are not evidence of systemic racism; they are simply “jumping off” points for further study! That is, there should be quantifiable researched data, as there is with the theory of time dilation, describing why blacks are less well off than whites, i.e. what are the exact “vehicles” by which the current black-white economic disparity exists? Then, those vehicles could be dismantled.

Anyone can have a Positive Relationship With the Police!

But the CRT advocates claim that there is plenty of damning evidence supporting the presence of systemic racism. They claim that blacks are kept from the rise to prosperity by a condition called “white supremacy.” For example, one article I read indicated that part of white privilege is “Having A Positive Relationship With The Police.” Surely there are some cases in which police officers have abused their authority. Those officers should face big disciplinary consequences. But the current progressive narrative stereotypes police as hunters and vicious maimers of black citizens! Ridiculous! Those criminals, like Derek Chauvin, should be stopped and punished. And they are. So it’s not as though the nation’s police officers are advancing like murderous locusts upon hapless citizens! Having a positive relationship with the police comes from not only holding police departments responsible for the behavior of their officers, but also by citizens cooperating with officers as well. While there was plenty of CRT information about how police can be more racially sensitive, I could only find one video, ironically comical, encouraging citizens to cooperate with police.

Equality of Outcomes: CRT's Poster Child

In another article, it was cited that there are only 4 black chief executive officers in the Fortune 500 list. Again this is an unfortunate circumstance as our feathers of fairness and equality are ruffled; there should be more black CEOs! But can that statistic be used as an indictment of our whole society as racist? Is another explanation possible? The CRT experts would answer “yes” and “no” respectively. Why? Because two of their key narrative points are that systemic racism is “invisible” and racial justice can only be achieved by “equality of outcomes,” meaning that standard-of-living should be “legislated the same'' for all citizens. Free market capitalism should not determine who gets what since equality is not endemic to it. But it is prejudicial to claim that “disparity of outcomes” among races proves systemic racism, unless your definition of racism is “any outcome disparity no matter the context.” The true definition of racism has to do with overt purposeful or negligent acts or policies or structures which result in preferential/discriminatory treatment of one or more racial groups. It is useless to simply claim that there is systemic racism which is so ingrained in society that it’s invisible and imperceptible and then expect some kind of national restitution! So what then is the core issue regarding only 4 black Fortune 500 CEOs? Were qualified black CEO candidates at other Fortune 500 companies victims of secret, organized chicanery in the selection process, and told, “sorry, we have made our choice. We appreciate your interest in this position?” For “disparity of outcome” statistics, more is needed before those statistics can be made as evidence of institutional racism. CRT offers no assistance here, either.

CRT "Is" What it Wants to "End:” Prejudice!

Further erroneous “evidence” and “effects” of systemic racism, are statements like the following: “According to the NAACP, African Americans represent 34 percent of incarcerated persons in the United States but just 12 percent of the general population.” Again, a troubling statistic but jumping from it to a conclusion of systemic racism is prejudicial. One would need more specific justice system data comparing same-crime conviction rates between blacks and whites. If blacks are consistently being convicted at higher rates than whites and/or receiving harsher penalties for the same crime, then a case for systemic racism in the justice system, could be made. If the social justice folks would find and present this data, then the justice system could be investigated and reformed if needed! So, where is the CRT data on this? Nowhere. Sad.

CRT's End Game: Socialism

Then I read this in an article scolding those "ignorant" people who deny the existence of systemic racism: “Closing the wage gap would have added $2.7 trillion to Black income, raising consumption and investment throughout the economy.” First, the minimum wage is the same for all regardless of race! Just saying. Second, what is really being alluded to, once again, is the progressive’s socialist goal of “equality of outcomes.” “Closing the wage gap” represents another sad face of CRT because its use would signal a “direct flight” to socialism, one of the most dysfunctional forms of society possible. Unless you think the Gulag or Venezuelan reality are good things. “Closing the wage gap” is as ridiculous an idea as would be closing the ability gap in major-league team sports, screaming systemic “teamism” angrily, claiming that certain teams unfairly won the championships because those teams have better players! That is, freedom would be compromised and meritocracy forsaken, so that the government could control the aspects of our lives which the CRT scholars claim must be regulated to make society just and fair. Totalitarianism? CRT? Yes. Sad. Like I mentioned.

CRT: Just Admit That America is a Racist Nation!

All we regular people get are blurry assertions of historic racial injustices claimed to be as potent today as they were in the past, despite 150 years without slavery and 50 years of Civil Rights legislation. As mentioned, CRT folks claim that systemic racism is “invisible” or “silent,” that it’s so woven and dyed into the fabric of our society that it is like a viral infection: unseen but felt. If that is the case, our legal system should form accountability structures, like oversight committees, whereby the daily functions of various institutions are assessed for equity and recommendations made. Why haven’t they done this? Makes me wonder. Hidden agenda? Probably! Because the attitude seems to be that we must accept that discriminatory structures exist because the CRT enthusiasts say they do, whether we perceive them or not, and we must welcome the remediative policies that they want to enact. How does a society embrace big change if the conditions or issues surrounding it are imperceptible? It can’t, unless we change to a certain form of government. A bad form of government. Yes, that one. If you get my meaning.

Institutional Racism is Gone Forever, Racism is Here Forever

The beginning of the end for institutional racism happened with the end of the Civil War. However, blacks still suffered horribly with Jim Crow sanctioned housing discrimination, lynchings, and inferior public infrastructure which was usually far worse in condition and amenities than that for whites. There is no denying that. But there were also signs of improvement during this period, starting of course with the constitutional abolishment of slavery in 1865 (Amendment 13). Other notable signs of better were Hattie McDaniel’s win of the academy award for her role in Gone With the Wind in 1939, and Jackie Robinson’s hire in 1947 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, ending segregation in baseball. The end of institutional racism was heralded when the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s were enacted. Affirmative Action was signed to law by then President Kennedy in 1961. Jim Crow stopped in 1965. These events did not put an end to racism, but did end institutional racism, since any institution, public or private was lawfully banned from racial discrimination and some institutions were responsible for racial restitution via affirmative action. It's true that the Civil Rights Act did not suddenly solve the problems of racial strife in America. But CRT proponents today claim that we are still fundamentally a racist country, that institutional racism is alive and well. But that conclusion makes no sense in light of historical events mentioned. We’ve come too far with legislation and social change for that to be the case. However, racism, like crime, will always be a problem; it's just the way it is with humanity. The good news is that we can strive to end both.

The Solution to Racism is not CRT. It is EDUCATION!

Just like we can’t just rid society of criminals, we also cannot cannot just rid society of racists. We can’t go to the home improvement store and purchase “racist” spray, “controlling racists for up to 6 months with a single treatment.” So, the next best idea is education. Instead of rallying to tear down the “system” of which there is no generally accepted evidence of systemic dysfunction, the answer is rallying to support public education to teach love for diversity: racial, religious, gender, political or any other criteria. Educators must acknowledge and teach that diversity is good and necessary for a thriving society. Starting in the earliest ages of public schooling, children should participate in learning experiences steering them in the direction of love and respect for their fellow humankind regardless of skin color, gender, religion or any other variable. Doing so will condition our young to experience diversity as not just normal, but wonderful! We are human and thus susceptible to hatred as part of our “drive to survive” mechanism and young children must be educated so that hatred can be expunged from their consciousnesses as early as possible. This teaching would not invoke historical injustices (this would be too complicated for very young minds; students will learn about that in later years of their schooling) as foundational material; rather, the learning experiences would be new “discovery” experiences shared with their classmates, requiring no prior knowledge or acknowledgment of group membership. Every student would be guided, not lectured or tested, through role-playing which would affirm in their young minds that every human being, regardless of outward or inward differences, is precious. Education for all, not CRT's divisiveness and obfuscation, is the best chance we have to build a society where everyone is valued and respected.

Final Comments

Racists are like certain drug addicts and misogynists; they don’t even realize that they have a problem. They will continue to be born. They will truly believe that their race is superior. Therefore, racism will never go away. Neither will America’s scar tissue from slavery and racial injustices against blacks and other races. But it has been exposed for its evil, and should be our teacher of what not to do. That being said, that horrible scar tissue should not define us either. CRT is not the answer. The road to better will be paved with the education of its youngest citizens. Our greater society is capable of love and respect for all of its people.


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Rupert Taylor from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on June 17, 2021:

Take a look at the Learning Center - follow the link at Help, top right.

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