Beating a Zombie Horse: Yes, Virginia, CRT Is Real

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by James A. Bacon

If these were normal times I could file this post under the “beating a dead horse” tab. Jim Sherlock and I have blogged repeated on the topic of Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools, providing abundant documentation along the way. But various parties — from the McAuliffe campaign to the Washington Post to commenters on this blog — insist upon revivifying the expired equine.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m beating a zombie horse — a dead horse that refuses to go down.

Hilariously, we are led to believe that Critical Race Theory is an arcane academic theory popular among legal scholars but is not, repeat not, taught in Virginia. Watch Terry McAuliffe dodge the question from a reporter about how he defines CRT. He doesn’t need to define it, he says. “It’s racist. It’s a dog whistle. It’s not taught here.”

The only interesting question here is whether McAuliffe is deliberately and knowingly deceiving the electorate, or if be actually believes his foolishness.

Two days ago legal blogger Scott Greenfield tweeted the following document in which Equity Leadership Coaching invoiced Loudoun County Public Schools $34,000 for coaching support, for developing a “culturally responsive teaching framework,” and for “equity committee planning,” all of which are ubiquitous buzz words in the educational establishment today.

Who, you might ask, is the Equity Collaborative? The company is more than happy to tell you on its website. Its principals do not shy away from talking about Critical Race Theory.

Definition: CRT analyzes the role of race and racism in perpetuating social disparities between dominant and marginalized racial groups.

CRT’s purpose is to unearth what is taken for granted when analyzing race and privilege, as well as the profound patterns of exclusion that exist in U.S. society.

The website lists “5 tenets of CRT”:

  • Counter-storytelling (critique the dominant, male White, heterosexual ideology)
  • Permanence of racism (an inherent part of American civilization that privileges White individuals over people of color)
  • Whiteness as property (Whiteness is so beneficial to White people it represents a form of property)
  • Interest convergence (whites as the primary beneficiaries of civil rights legislation)
  • Critique of liberalism (liberalism helps Whites maintain their power in society; the concept of “meritocracy” buttresses the status quo).

In closing its overview, the Equity Collaborative proposes this question for breakout group discussions: “How might you use CRT to identify and address systemic oppression in your school, district or organization?”

So, let’s sum up the logic chain:

  1. Loudoun County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Virginia, pays $34,000 to the Equity Collaborative for training and consulting about “equity” and “culturally responsive teaching”;
  2. Equity Collaborative openly describes its thinking as Critical Race Theory;
  3. Equity Collaborative explicitly suggests “using CRT” to discuss systemic racism in schools; yet…
  4. Conservative talk about Critical Race Theory in schools is all fear-mongering and dog whistles.

Well, that’s one explanation of what the controversy is all about.

Here’s another explanation: The people who are claiming that CRT in schools is a bunch of crazy, right-wing scare talk…. are lying through their teeth, and they will continue to lie for the rest of the gubernatorial campaign because they know the issue is a political loser. But they can’t disown it because they don’t want to face the Twitter Outrage Mob.

Perhaps there is a third explanation. If so, readers, please illuminate.