Monday, August 8, 2022

Trump Led The Republican Attack On Critical Race Thoory (CRT)



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We are talking about Critical Race Theory (CRT) because The New York Times Organization published The 1619 Project and Trump condemned it in a scripted, televised speech. See and hear Trump speaking at:
Since Trump’s 2020 attack on CRT and The 1619 Project, 10 states have passed classroom censorship laws regulating discussion about race, racial inequality and other topics. In 2022 alone, 26 additional states have put forth similar bills. Texas republican governor Greg Abbot brought Trump’s tactics to Texas and created expensive and intimidating laws.

One of my recent blogs reviewed and discussed the book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. I read it and find it well-written, comprehensive and authoritative. Nothing I read was inconsistent with the history of slavery in other books I consulted. It’s no surprise Trump would attack Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times Magazine, and by inclusion, the many other 1619 Project writers. 
In this blog you will read my opinion that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a legitimate, college level academic tool; but it’s not appropriate for use in public schools K-12.
And, you will read my opinion that Trump and the Republicans he leads have co-opted the topic of Critical Race Theory and some of the 1619 Project’s narrative content to:
  • Suppress discussion of the history of white racism and slavery, while at the same time 
  • Asserting he stands for racial equality, and
  • Announcing he’s not going to spend any more millions of federal dollars on antiracism training for government employees.
President Biden reversed Trump’s executive on his first day in office in 2021. That’s good, but it will take more than just a few school years for the paranoia Trump stirred up to ease off.

It is:
1. a research framework for studying race related issues
2. formulated back the 1980s by college professors,
3. to help them in the study of qualitative variables such as feelings and impressions. 
A research framework is a group of concepts in a plan for how to go about studying a difficult topic. A framework is a plan for how to get some results on a topic—it is not the topic itself. 
The CRT framework was created as a research tool to study qualities of peoples’ experiences, feelings, opinions on different races. Qualities are very hard to study because, although they can be described in words, they cannot be accurately measured and expressed as numbers. For example, the weight of apples can be precisely measured by the unit of measurement called pounds. BUT, one cannot count a person’s racial anxiety or fear because feelings have no unit of measurement. And, verbal rating scales are unreliable. Feelings and opinions about experiences can be described in words but only very poorly in numbers. 
From what I’ve read, the CRT professionals wisely recognized a measurement problem and created their framework to cope with it.

The recording of and study of history produces facts; and over time a consensus emerges about objective (unbiased) facts. But much is lost to the historical record because it wasn’t recorded; or, the motivating bad motives were too obscure to document. Often bad motives are systematically hidden.
After I read the 1619 Project I realized that the combination of my high school American History class and seeing the movie Gone With The Wind as a teenager, left me without essential knowledge and ideas about the country and world I lived in. As a teen I consumed much war history, but no slavery history. War history strongly affected my adult political worries and actions. But my lack of knowledge about slavery left me having no interest or adult concerns about the institutionalization of slavery in America. 
So as an adult I gradually became aware of segregation, but remained unaware of the long history of the horrible subjugation and segregation of African Americans. In my small town Michigan schools there were actually no people of color! 
But my reading of the 1619 Project: A New Origin Story produced in me sadness for the enslaved and disgust for the gross moral failures of the enslavers. Rationally, the enslavers were business-like in their treating of the slaves as mere property. It worked for them. 
I believe that German Nazism, Stalin Communism, and American slavery are all worthy of much more study to make actual progress understanding and preventing man’s inhumanity to man. We have insufficient knowledge to explain these inhumane regimes. Instead, if we read about them, we believe we know a lot because we are familiar with these complex, lengthy stories. 
A RECIPE FOR A MESS: Mixing Critical Race Theory and Politics 
While I don’t agree with Trump’s methods of politicizing and stomping on Critical Race Theory, I do agree that racial issues are so deep and explosive that improvements will only gradually arise by carefully considered actions of leaders.
I believe that poorly led discussions of racism and exploration of racist feelings risk exploding into confusion, distrust, and fierce objection from some children, who complain to parents, resulting in angry parents, and the contentious school board meetings.
I believe most K-12 school children are too young for any form of CRT. And, because CRT is so abstract and the content (racism) so prone to negative drama that average parents may not capable or willing for their children to participate.
Why is this awful? Because anyone wanting to pick a fight and attract attention to themselves can easily exploit the awful mess of racism to attack their political or cultural enemies. The “blame game.” Anything that even feels wrong can be a motivation to blame someone else for something—even if it’s made up.
Instead, I think kids in school should learn more about government and how Congress makes laws. Kids should learn about exemplary politicians who have managed to advance the welfare of the low, middle and upper classes—not just the elites.

New York Times
“According to Professor Crenshaw, opponents of C.R.T. are using a decades-old tactic: insisting that acknowledging racism is itself racist.”
“The rhetoric allows for racial equity laws, demands and movements to be framed as aggression and discrimination against white people,” she said. That, she added, is at odds with what critical race theorists have been saying for four decades.
Wikipedia on Critical Race Theory
        For references, see the relevant page on the website.
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