Critical Race Theory and Common Sense

There is a peculiar theory that has its basis in Marxism and that hails from early-twentieth-century Germany. The theory first manifested itself in the United States in the 1970s. Critical Race Theory brings with it the idea that all whites are racists, whether they are aware of this or not. The labeling of a group based on race is certainly an erroneous idea the world had previously endured. Certainly people—and not just whites—take offense to such an idea. But the theory implicates whites, accordingly, in at least three ways.

First, whites are considered racists because of the sins of America’s past. White families whose relatives emigrated from Europe in the 1900s, or even more recently, are deemed just as racist as those whose families descended from the original British citizens who occupied The Thirteen Colonies.

Whites are racists by the nature of their skin color at birth. This is true whether a white was born in America or anywhere else. To paraphrase Van Jones, CNN commentator, whites are born with a racism virus in their brains, a virus which can be switched on and off and manifested at any time. This statement seems to imply racism has a DNA component to it. To conclude that babies are fledgling racists sounds like what cult members are told about people with whom they find disagreement. CRT does nothing to diminish these ideas, and the racial component to the critical theory implicitly marginalizes by explicit labels.

Second, whites are deemed racists for denying they are racists. Any effort that demonstrates defensiveness or that shuns the label is met with retorts. These retorts elicit claims that whites are comfortable in their roles as “supremacists” and “oppressors.” When whites deny they are racist, it means their power is being challenged and that they are psychologically defending themselves in order to maintain their “fragile” whiteness over those whom they oppress.

Third, when whites agree they are racists, they are then shamed and called out for their implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) bias. They can be doxed, they can lose their job, and their families and property can be literally destroyed by mobs. Such actions occur across America. Confessions of racism are met with statements of “See, we told you so,” and “You must check your privilege and deconstruct your whiteness.”

There seems to be no way for white people to avoid being labeled racist. The reason, they are told, is because they cannot help but express their racism in a society that is corrupt from its beginning. The critical race theorist is not focused on acts of racism, per se. However, the reality is that these actions are viewed as evidence of the existence of something systemic, which critical race theorists maintain affects all institutions in American society. But is this sensible?

CRT Is Illogical and Immoral

The logic of the critical race theorist breaks down at several points. One of these points becomes obvious when we substitute politics for race. If CRT is logical, it should not break down with application to other examples. Observe the following:

Based on the assumption that the history of an institution is systemically racist, critical race theorists are quick to call for the destruction of such an institution. Would they do the same for political institutions?

Consider that the Democratic party is the political party that favored the enslavement of blacks, that developed Jim Crow laws, and that voted against the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s. It supported segregationists and birthed the KKK—and, to this day, most of America’s impoverished and high-crime areas are inner cities run by Democratic political machines. Based on the criteria for dismantling and deconstructing society, would it not be sensible for critical political theorists and advocates to call for the destruction of such an institution—horrible from its inception?

However, as with their participation in American capitalism and adoption of white culture at many junctures, most black Americans seem content as a monolith and continue to vote for an institutionally and systemically racist political group. If Critical Political Theory is true, then it must be applied to the Democratic Party based on the same criteria used against conservative, white Republicans. If it is not, then any Democrat who claims not to be racist is “politically fragile,” defensive, a political supremacist, and immoral—especially if he is a white Democrat. Sound ridiculous?

A second point to consider is the theoretical notion that is applied to law enforcement in America. Again, Americans are told that institutions are corrupt, and this includes the system of policing and law enforcement. Yet, what proponents of CRT insist upon, including Black Lives Matter supporters, is that sporadic incidents involving black men and police are evidence of institutional racism. But wait! You can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, CRT believers (CRTs) are not supposed to use individual incidents to determine racism. On the other hand, CRTs use these incidents to identify racism in an institution, in this case law enforcement. This is not logical and it is not moral.

If such logic was applied to the inner cities where crime amongst black communities continues at all-time highs, then the only conclusion is that blacks as a group are systemically violent. Imagine applying this same inconsistent logic to gender, religion, or nationality. The bottom line is that it is morally wrong for one group to assign inescapable blame to another. It is also just as illogical—and supremacist—to disallow any argument which points out the fallacies of the marginalized assignments.

One additional example must be brought into the conversation about CRT. The call for ending law enforcement in cities while hiring private law enforcement is a contradictory message. If an institution is racist, are not those who work within it also racist? Such a contradiction is similar to BLM leaders claiming that all whites are racists and then buying homes in exclusive white neighborhoods. If law enforcement is systemically corrupt, how is the corruption negated because private law enforcement is hired by black elites?

What About Asians?

Interestingly, due to the achievements of so many Asian groups in America, blacks no longer consider most Asians as oppressed people of color, particularly East Asians. No one is certain whose idea it was to strip Asians of their oppressed minority status. But one may deduce that the comparison of achievements between Asians and other demographics is a difficult pill to swallow. Asians are now generally placed in the same “privileged” class as whites because they generally achieve highly in academic and economic pursuits. Could this be one reason why Asians are seeing so much hatred toward them, and why colleges and universities are restricting their admissions while favoring other students, particularly those of color?

Higher education institutions, as well as many secondary schools, are restructuring courses and curricula to fit lower-achieving student demographics, thus discriminating against higher-achieving students. This type of educational dumbing-down is directly related to CRT training and conversations about “equity” for all students. It is not logical to conclude that lowering standards challenges students. It is also insulting to students at all levels.

Irony and Hypocrisy

The ironic nature of Critical Race Theory is that it criticizes American culture, yet BIPOC (black, Indigenous, and people of color) have full access to all that is allegedly “white.” We should then ask the question: if America is racist, why are so many BIPOC participating in a racist system and succeeding? For example, why would a former leader of BLM suddenly have enough wealth to purchase millions of dollars of real estate, and do so in exclusively white enclaves? The real question is: why would she even want to live surrounded by wealthy racists?

For CRTs to bully whites into disowning their very culture, and yet participate in that same culture, is hypocrisy. Cries of systematic racism fall on deaf ears when “the oppressed” participate in the system they claim is systemically racist. Seeking to revolutionize supposed white supremacist capitalism, while personally and professionally benefitting from it, is a demonstration that materialism often wins over the theoretical.

CRTs castigating whites for desiring the best for their children, in terms of education and jobs, all while accessing the very system for themselves and their families, demonstrates that the system is not so racist after all.

Critical Race Theory has a lot for which to answer. First and foremost is the material wealth and power its spokespersons have amassed. This appears to be about money and power and a new form of Marxist ideology based on racial classification, rather than actually changing social class structures.

Correcting Past Errors By Present Errors?

Ibram X. Kendi argues that we should bully one race until it comes to understand what it is like to be bullied. He writes, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” In Kendi, we see the clear motive of Critical Race Theory and anti-racism activism. This is a distortion of a biblical principle which now reads, “Do unto others as they have done unto you.”

CRT and its practices are dis-unifying and disrespectful of Martin Luther King’s hard-fought legacy. Character over color was the mantra. Today, melanin over merit is the practice. One has to be of the right skin color to advance, while all others are increasingly instructed not to apply.

CRT Is Not Best For Our Kids

CRT is a dangerous and expansive ideology that has long since left the Ivory Tower. It has infected the minds of millions of people in America and is highly divisive. CRT is predicated on falsehoods about people, while marginalizing these same people in the process.

America’s K-16 public learning institutions were always meant to be places of unity around American principles. Students today are told to see skin color first and to feel guilty if they are the wrong color. If it was wrong for America to separate by race in the past—and it was—then it is still wrong to separate today. Common sense dictates that any theory that encourages this type of discussion or practice must be discarded.

People can be enlightened by truth, love, academic challenge, and their better angels, or become woke to something lesser and racially divisive by an angel appearing as light. The difference is that the latter angel is bent on revenge for the past. Which of the two do we want for our children, our families, and the schools they attend?


Image: Sam Balye, Public Domain

Ernest J. Zarra, III

Ernest J. Zarra, III, Ph.D. is semi-retired and is now a full-time education researcher and writer. Ernie has worked as a secondary teacher and district professional development leader in California’s largest high school district, presented as keynote speaker for various national educational organizations, and served as assistant professor of teacher education at Lewis-Clark State College.

15 thoughts on “Critical Race Theory and Common Sense

  1. I learned of your article by joining the FB page “Stop Critical Race Theory”. The article received rave reviews there and I have to agree “The article is fantastic”. It is an incredibly easy read, informative, and answers the many opinions, objections and questions regarding CRT. Thank you for writing an incredible summation I will share with others.

    1. Thank you very much Mary Ellen. I am blessed and hope that whatever little contribution I make enlightens and makes a positive difference in the lives of teachers, students, and their families. We must speak up and tell it like it is. Our kids are a precious blessing.
      Thanks again! ~EZ

  2. Something that is often overlooked with discussions of CRT is
    its validity in respect to evidence for it and how racist processes are to be identified.
    This is important because however much we might like or loath CRT what is
    vital is whether it is correct in its claims. We might not like that
    we live in a racism system whose racism is embedded and invisible to us and
    which we perpetuate but if that is the truth we need to do something about it.
    If black people are being discriminated against by our society in invisible ways
    we surely have an obligation to do something. This is a nightmare view
    of our society but that does not make it untrue or that we should pretend it does not exist.

    However CRT is lacking entirely in compelling evidence for it and much evidence against it.
    Primarily it relies on gross statistics to show racial disparities but fails to drill down into
    the statistics which show, amongst other things, that wealth of parents are much more
    important in life outcome and that poor black people have the same issues as poor white people. The best conclusion is surely that poverty is a better way of explaining the problem than hidden racism. Black people are on average poorer, almost certainly, for historic reasons where in capitalist systems wealth does not freely flow to different strata.
    Further if the system was invisibly racist in hidden way to maintain white supremacy why has it not reacted to stifle Asian people or black middle class people. All in all the evidence for CRT is severely lacking and we should reject I until it can come up with proper evidence.

    The other problem is even if there was evidence how can be locate and remove the issues.

    CRT provides no solutions other than a heightened sense of racism which has obvious problems and no good reason to believe that Ina system with hidden racism this will identify the issues . You just have to listen to people like DiAngelo who sees racism everywhere and where no choice can be made that is not racist. Identifying all actions as racist cannot help resolve what is the correct way to proceed to eliminate this hidden racism yet so many CRT advocates argue precisely this. They argue like this because of course they have no way of showing what in the racist system is causing the problem instead they advocate destroying systems but history has taught us that
    without for thought there is no reason to think the replacement will be any better than that which has been destroyed and probably will be much worse.
    For example Kendi advocates for a special department of govenrment to root out racist systems that would have vast and unaccountable power given to those trained in anti-racisim based on his flawed arguments. A vehicle fro corruption and terror in the making that he believes will remove structural racism. Even though he cannot articulate how to unambiguously identify where racism is beyond statistical a generalisations . He also seems to show utter ignorance of how large organisations work believing he can easily identify how policies can be assessed for whether they increase or decrease discrimination. To anyone with any knowledge of large organisations this is laughable.

  3. All true, but the problem of CRT is significantly more fundamental.

    Critical Race Theory is horribly flawed, NOT because it’s being selectively applied — a selectivity exposed by the author’s ‘if this – then that’…and not because it’s logically inconsistent…. but because it’s absolutely fundamentally & terribly WRONG. It is a lie. It is anti-historical. It is morally warped & ethically twisted. It is the perverse modern racial equivalent of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. It assigns to the White Race an inescapable, racially-fated sin-of-existence which can only, at best, be confessed but never forgiven and never corrected (no matter how much we spend). It is a fabricated anti-white text which purports to describe a White Supremacist plan for global domination, reflected in every institution present in the Western Democracies.

    It is evil, in every measure & meaning of the word.

    Its anti-American screed preaches race-hatred. It believes that racial guilt — as the anti-Semites would say of the Jews — is blood-borne, passing through the generations. Speaking at Yale this spring, psychiatrist Aruna Khilanani, in her talk titled ‘The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’ put it this way: “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor.” She went on: “We are asking a demented, violent predator (the White Person) …to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.”

    Hitler said of the Jewish presence, “they are a race-tuberculosis of the people”. Would not Dr. Khilanani say the same of Whites?

    Kendi’s “Anti-Racism” is the fruit of that same poisoned tree. He tells us, “If discrimination is creating equity, then it is anti-racist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. … The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.” The End justifies the Means. To the Totalitarian it always does.

    Justice Roberts noted, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Kendi, DiAngelo, and all the priests and acolytes of Critical Race Theory could not disagree more. Rather they would insist (increasingly violently) that the only way to stop discrimination on the basis of race (which they believe is systemic) is to discriminate MORE frequently and more severely on the basis of race….and to continue that discrimination until outcomes are ‘equitable’

    This is insane.

    CRT says we are Systemically Racist. That is a lie. There are no laws that parse outcomes on the basis of race. There are no banks that loan because of skin color. There are no schools whose admissions policies are race-centric (Affirmative Action being a glaring exception, of course). No corporations which hire or fire as a function of melanin. No venues, no artists whose ticket policies restrict entry. No public offices which are off-limits to those with darker or lighter skin tone.

    Not only are these things not happening, they are, in fact, illegal & unconstitutional. Racism, as both an attitude and practice is despised by the vast majority of Americans and has been for generations. And when, in some backwater, some poisonous remnant of that racist hatred is found, it is exposed by the national media, excised and it’s victims compensated.

    No — America is not a systemically racist nation; the exact opposite in fact.

    Certainly racism, as a particular kind of human hatred, is still with us. And it will remain as long as people find reasons to hate (Are you listening Dr. Khilanani?) But racism as government practice, as law, as rule, as policy — NO — those days are long gone.

    But still — Kendi, DiAngelo, Khilanani, et al, feed and nurture that hateful beast.

    Absolutely it must stop.
    Let us begin by stopping the poisonous racist hatred which is Critical Race Theory.

  4. Hi RC. Wonderful question. The real change occurs at the local levels, with school board elections, mayoral elections, and one concerned community at a time. Our churches and houses of worship, and private colleges have to be stalwarts in fighting back from the pulpits and lecterns. Since devotees to CRT are religious in their beliefs, parents must be bold about calling out this religion and demanding it to be separated from the public schools. In reading many of the antiracist and CRT literature, even the term “woke” has religious connotations, and the terms they use even equate to the evangelical term, “born again.” I write about this and CRT’s connection to religious humanism, in my new book that comes out on July 1. I am also under contract to write a book for 2022 release, that takes on CRT and how we can fight it. Here is the link to my latest book. Thanks, again, RC, for the nice comment nd query. Link: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475858525/When-the-Secular-becomes-Sacred-Religious-Secular-Humanism-and-its-Effects-upon-America's-Public-Learning-Institutions

  5. “White families whose relatives emigrated from Europe in the 1900s, or even more recently, are deemed just as racist as those whose families descended from the original British citizens who occupied The Thirteen Colonies.”

    As someone who can trace his roots back to 1644, I need to object to this — there are a LOT of people who can trace their families back to Colonial times but neither owned any slaves nor particularly had a whole lot of money.

    It also is worth remembering that only 1/3 of the colonists supported the American Revolution, and that another third openly opposed it — and not only had their property confiscated but were forced to flee as refugees.

    Conversely, Kamala Harris’ Great Grandfather was a slave owner on Jamaica….

      1. I like to remind people that the term “lynching” and “lynch law” came from the Revolutionary War era and two men whose *names* were “Lynch” and their extra-legal pursuit of Loyalists in what was then Virginia. And that “Lynch Mob” initially was in the possessive of “Lynch’s Mob.”

        Yes. “lynching” would assume a completely different perspective a century later, but in the 18th Century, it’s victims were *White*…

  6. CRT has some commonality with China’s Cultural Revolution including the pressure sessions, the compelled speech and reliance on conversion of youth to the cause. Many historians believe Mao whipped up the “youth” in a frenzy in order to divert attention from his errors in the Great Leap Forward that killed about 40 million people. These events were about 10 years part but news travels slow in Communist Dictatorships.
    In recent years we watched police being criticized for excess attention to Blacks (unequal outcomes in arrests and incarcerations …) even though said attention was more than fully explained by unequal crime rates. In the CRT parlance there is an “equity” problem in criminal justice.
    Another equity issue is the dismal performance of Blacks in school. There are test scores, of course, but even less controversial measures like graduation rates show Blacks way behind Whites and Asians. We have a free to-the-customer education system in the U.S., but it is largely monopolized by unionized teachers. Regarding Black performance the unions have historically blasted the Black family, or lack thereof, as an explanatory variable. But the feminists, allies of the unions, claim single Mom families are just as good, so there goes that excuse. And there is no way they will go after DNA as an excuse. So it would logically follow that the public schools and the unionized teachers are to blame for this lack of education equity, especially when you look at what happened to the police.
    Thus I speculate, like Mao, the left and especially the teachers union are using the White supremacy and systematic racism theory as a diversionary tactic, especially with non-union public charters and vouchers gaining steam among Black and White parents.

    1. Mike, thank you for the additional insights. Quite valuable information and interesting corollary to China.

    2. While the NAEP (https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/) doesn’t track by both race and gender, the fact that the “boy gap” in literacy skills is greater than the “girl gap” in STEM skills has been known (and quietly ignored) for decades.

      Colleges tend not to lie to the NCAA, and the NCAA tracks both race and gender — of both athletes and the student body as a whole. And while the NCAA doesn’t publish the latter, every time I’ve inquired as to data that an institution reports to the NCAA, it’s come out to a 2:1 ratio of Black females to Black males. And I’ve been doing this, on occasion, for the past 25 years.

      The problem with Black education is with Black boys — nine-year-old third-graders who *are* boys — and whose role models are athletes and drug dealers. 76% of them don’t have a father, even fewer of them have a father living with them, and then you throw in an elementary school teaching cadre that is something like 90% female and they don’t have a chance. Even without all the messages that academic success constitutes “acting White.”

  7. Thank you for an excellent article, Dr. Zarra. My question is, how do we dismantle CRT while keeping our jobs and our lives? It doesn’t seem we can trust the federal government, as they are complicit in this racist movement.

    1. Hi RC. Wonderful question. The real change occurs at the local levels, with school board elections, mayoral elections, and one concerned community at a time. Our churches and houses of worship, and private colleges have to be stalwarts in fighting back from the pulpits and lecterns. Since devotees to CRT are religious in their beliefs, parents must be bold about calling out this religion and demanding it to be separated from the public schools. In reading many of the antiracist and CRT literature, even the term “woke” has religious connotations, and the terms they use even equate to the evangelical term, “born again.” I write about this and CRT’s connection to religious humanism, in my new book that comes out on July 1. I am also under contract to write a book for 2022 release, that takes on CRT and how we can fight it. Here is the link to my latest book. Thanks, again, RC, for the nice comment nd query. Link: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781475858525/When-the-Secular-becomes-Sacred-Religious-Secular-Humanism-and-its-Effects-upon-America's-Public-Learning-Institutions

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