Between March 4 and March 6, 2022, the California Teachers Association (CTA), California’s largest teachers union with a membership of 325,000 educators, hosted a convention titled “2022 Equity & Human Rights Conference” in Los Angeles. With an aim to “provide all CTA members with a greater understanding of the issues of diversity, equity and social justice,” the conference consisted of professional development training courses resulting in various certificates of completion for CTA’s teacher members. One of the seminars was entitled “No Karen, There is No Boogeyman: Debunking the Myths of Critical Race Theory in Conversation.” A recording of this teacher training program was leaked to me through a whistleblower.
Taking on the “detractors” of the so-called “right teach the truth,” the “No Karen” seminar is a prime example of an intricate network from all levels of education that systematically propagandizes far-Left ideologies of social justice, race essentialism, and collective guilt. First and foremost, the two trainers for “No Karen” are college professors that head the Faculty Equity and Diversity Committee (FEDC), housed in the Community College Association, CTA’s higher education arm. They are Edward Gomez, associate professor of art and design at California State University, San Bernardino, and Kristie Iwamoto, instructor of English at Napa Valley College. In addition to creating “conference sessions and stand-alone workshops” addressing “issues regarding ethnic, gender, age, economic and cultural equity,” the FEDC also serves as a trophy-granting agency which recently gave out the “LGBTQ+ Award” in honor of CTA’s first openly gay president and the “Ethnic Minority Award” in recognition of a Hispanic professor.
Despite their lack of both theoretical and working knowledge of the social sciences or political science, Gomez and Iwamoto set out to educate CTA’s teacher members about CRT and other relevant concepts such as affirmative action, ethnic studies, and gender ideology. Their passionate presentation relied heavily on a partial definition of CRT from two sorts of proponents: first, CRT scholars including Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, and second, comedians and political satirists like Jon Stewart, a self-described socialist. Gomez and Iwamoto then asserted that CRT is only a “narrow legal theory” taught in American colleges and universities and that the resistance to teaching CRT is “manufactured panic.” To drive home a point that critics of CRT can’t even define the term, the two trainers forewent publicly available resources from serious think tanks and intellectuals and instead focused on the Daily Show’s dishonest interviews with grassroots activists, which included questions designed to trick the interviewees.
In a similar manner, to incite intolerance against parents and students disagreeing with CRT’s propagation in K-12 education, Iwamoto quoted talk show host John Oliver, who claimed that “Fox News mentioned the term ‘critical race theory’ 4,707 times in 2021.” This is, of course, disingenuous, given that from July 14 to July 21, 2019, CNN and MSNBC mentioned the word “racist” over 4,100 times in response to President Trump’s tweet calling on four Democratic congresswomen to go back to other countries. CNN’s reporting obsession with “white supremacy,” “systemic racism,” and “angry white men” has only intensified since the hazed summer of “racial reckoning.” MSNBC calls the resistance to CRT a tool of scared and misinformed “white parents,” disregarding mounting evidence that those objecting to race essentialism come from all racial backgrounds and political persuasions. Who is doing more damage to racially bait and divide Americans?
Ironically, even though the trainers portrayed CRT as a political boogeyman invented to rally the “Karens”—a derogatory, racist term in and of itself—they spent almost half of the training session analyzing legislation from 14 states that have restricted the teaching and inculcation of divisive concepts and race essentialism in K-12 education. If CRT is not in K-12, why bother discussing legislative efforts that target a non-existent problem? Toward the end of the training program, the baseless fear-mongering escalated into calling out “detractors” against CRT, affirmative action, ethnic studies, and gender studies as villains who “beat, jail, and murder” progressives. Gomez used an example from California, inaccurately characterizing the state’s 1996 Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209) as a “red-baiting” effort by “white men.” This insulting account of California’s recent ballot history on the issues of civil rights and affirmative action is intentionally blind to the fact that leaders of both the 1996 initiative and the 2020 campaign coalition to defend the initiative are of African and Asian descents.
Regarding ethnic studies, the two trainers again regurgitated boilerplate talking points, namely that the movement to teach the course is narrowly focused on deepening multicultural understanding and that the course is proven to improve graduation rates and college preparedness. This sort of blind faith in a controversial discipline is again void of any critical reflection upon growing intellectual criticisms of the efficacy of ethnic studies.
Positioning the training as one that helps educators better “respond to detractors,” Gomez and Iwamoto concluded the session by reiterating the importance of unions and unionism. They argued that teachers unions are the “last fortress standing” against reactionary politics and “an agent of social justice for immigrants, blacks, Latinos, women and children.” They urged K-12 teachers to engage their local unions on diversity and equity when the other side infringes upon their “right to teach.”
As the higher education arm of the Golden State’s largest teachers union, the Community College Association (CCA) is a de facto incubator of far-Left ideology in higher education. Intellectuals giving their blessings to social justice, anti-racism, and DEI make the concepts sound more appealing and authoritative. In its most recent press release, “Racism and Police Misconduct,” CCA proclaims that “We continue to see an appalling number of events where police harm the Black members of our society.” To further advocate for the “black lives matter” movement, CCA urges all California teachers to channel their “personal grief and anger” to influence students and teach them to fight racism and inequity. Furthermore, CCA’s definition of racism is solely informed by the work on structural racism and white supremacy by leftist thinkers Keith Lawrence and Terry Keleher:
Racism = Prejudice + Power Within the context of the United State of America, and other nations, structural racism takes the form of white supremacy; the preferential treatment, privilege, power, access, networks, and access to opportunities available to white people, which often designate communities of color to chronic adverse outcomes.
Many CCA members presented during the 2022 Equity & Human Rights Conference, training K-12 educators on issues such as male privilege, queering in middle schools, transgender diversity in early childhood, and ethnic studies. The goal was to help all union members “spring into action,” to “declutter, decolonize, and organize.” Using their university and college credentials, regardless of their subject matter expertise or lack thereof, these higher education union members considerably strengthen and even legitimize the pipeline of indoctrination based on highly contested and frequently debunked ideas.