In 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a measure putting the brakes on critical race theory (CRT) in the classroom.
CRT is a familiar term for most college graduates: It’s a worldview rooted in cultural Marxism, critical theory, and postmodernism theories. Although you would think an idea like this wouldn’t be found in a deep red state—and certainly not in Texas—CRT is everywhere.
It recently made national news in Texas because of the 2022 Democratic nominee for governor, Beto O’Rourke, who’s challenging Abbott’s reelection. Forced to address the issue at a rally in Victoria, Texas, on March 11, O’Rourke uttered a headline-grabbing, unexpected response after someone in the crowd asked him whether CRT should be taught to schoolchildren: “No.”
Of course, he attempted to dodge the bullet first. O’Rourke responded with typical Democrat denial.
“We don’t see CRT being taught in our schools right now,” he said. “It is a course that is taught in law schools.”
Perhaps that answer would have sufficed in 2020, when most of us didn’t know better. But it’s 2022, and the crowd wouldn’t let him off the hook that easily.
When pressed on whether CRT should be taught in K–12, O’Rourke admitted finally, “No, I don’t think [CRT] should be taught in our schools.”
With this unexpected retort, O’Rourke became the first, but certainly not the last, politician running for office in 2022 who will obfuscate on this issue.
O’Rourke’s answer had elements of truth to it. However, it was disingenuous, because it was intended to mislead the questioner. CRT is most certainly practiced right now—from schools and colleges to the workplace and beyond, all across the United States.
CRT is a course taught in universities and colleges, as well as some elite high schools. Elements of it find their way throughout our K–12 schools. And it doesn’t stop there. What was once a theory confined to campuses is upending our lives, as companies and our institutions work to assimilate with the woke movement. Its components exert enormous control over our day-to-day lives—just look for buzzwords such as “culturally competent learning,” “social justice,” “anti-racism,” “restorative justice,” “equity,” and “implicit bias.” They’re everywhere.
Despite the approval of anti-CRT legislation in Texas, Tennessee, and a few other states, CRT and its close cousin, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), are most certainly being taught in schools through books, articles, and teaching materials. Behind the curriculum are activist authors committed to advancing progressive racial and sexual agendas in the classroom, twisting and adding to factual information until it’s a far cry from the truth. Some of the books on civil rights depict white people as mean and evil, such as “The Youngest Marcher,” refusing to illustrate the multiracial coalition in which whites risked their lives alongside blacks to change a nation.
Also, works such as “The 1619 Project” refuse to tell the story of slavery accurately and in full. The first Africans brought to the American colonies were indentured servants who learned trades and, like their white counterparts, were released after seven years. Some of these blacks even purchased slaves of their own. The true history of race in America should include the white abolitionists, the white conductors of the Underground Railroad, and the white philanthropists who funded schools and universities for newly freed slaves and their descendants.
To put it bluntly, CRT is racist. It shouldn’t exist in U.S. institutions. It violates the constitutional principles of nondiscrimination and equal treatment under the law that we affirmed in the 1960s when our nation approved its three major civil rights acts—the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (with extensions in 1972), the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Open Housing Act.
At that time in our history, we the American people pledged to become a colorblind society in which people would be judged by the content of their character and elevated on their merit through equal opportunity. Equality became the law of the land, and it offered a hand up for people—like me—who are the descendants of slaves. It did so within the context of laws protecting all people. Leaders who truly love this country would do well to honor the vision of Civil Rights-era America. Perhaps that wouldn’t be someone like O’Rourke, who’s hesitant to say “no” to such an ideology as regressive and oppositional to civil rights as CRT.
Regardless of who becomes the next governor of Texas, it’s incumbent upon us, the citizens, to return to the positive civil rights vision that recognized and affirmed the dignity of every human being.