Will Virginia Teach Critical Race Theory to Kindergartners?

Robin Diangelo, critical race theorist.

by Hans Bader

This week, the Virginia Board of Education will meet to discuss a report that may promote destructive racial ideologies — the August 2020 “Report from the Governor’s African American History Education Commission.”

James Sherlock laments “the fiercely negative approach to the teaching of African American history offered by the Governor’s Commission.” He says its “Report is critical race theory brought to life. It represents the most thoroughly negative view of America’s history and pessimism about its future as a nation that I have ever encountered in a government document anywhere. Many universities have had success at radicalization. This recommends an earlier start. Kindergarten.”

After reading his assessment at Bacon’s Rebellion, I read the Report and was dismayed by it as well. Three authors cited in the Report — Robin DiAngelo, Ibram Kendi, and Glenn Singleton — give harmful advice which, if followed, will lead to civil-rights violations and spread racism in our schools.

So in comments I emailed to the Board of Education at [email protected], I objected to their inclusion. They are currently listed in Appendix F of the report, as “Scholars and Partners for Collaboration,” and their works are cited as “Resources to Support Implementation.”

  1. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

The African-American professor John McWhorter notes in The Atlantic that DiAngelo’s book is “a racist tract” that is “dehumanizing” and “condescending” to black people, even as it depicts “all whites” as racist. As he explains in detail, “DiAngelo’s book is replete with claims that are either plain wrong or bizarrely disconnected from reality.”

  1. Glenn Singleton, author of Courageous Conversation About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Singleton, a diversity trainer, peddles offensive racial stereotypes, claiming that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while minority talk is “emotional.” That stereotypes minorities as being simpleminded and irrational.

Singleton embarrassed the Seattle Schools in a landmark discrimination case, which they lost in a 5-to-4 decision by the Supreme Court. Under the guidance of Singleton’s diversity-training firm, the Seattle Schools adopted a bizarre definition of racism that depicted planning ahead and individualism as racist or white traits.

As the National Association of Scholars notes,”The Seattle Schools taught that ‘individualism’ is a form of ‘cultural racism’; that planning ahead is a white characteristic; that it is racist to expect minorities to exhibit that characteristic; and that only whites, who benefit from ‘white privilege’ and ‘institutional racism,’ can be racist. These bizarre teachings were ridiculed in opinions by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas in their opinions in June 2007 in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. Justice Thomas argued that these and other aspects of the Seattle Schools’ obsession with ‘white privilege’ made it inappropriate to blindly defer to school districts when they use race in student assignment. Yet the Seattle Schools’ diversity consultant, Glenn Singleton, far from rethinking his obsessions with ‘white privilege’ and ‘institutionalized racism,’ continues to spread his weird racial philosophy.”

Supreme Court Justices cited this bizarre definition of racism in striking down Seattle’s race-conscious student assignment policy. The Chief Justice did so in his footnote 14 of his ruling. Similarly, Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion cited this definition as a reason that “local school boards should” not “be entrusted with the power to make decisions on the basis of race.” As he noted in footnote 30, the Seattle Schools defined as “cultural racism” the useful trait of “having a future time orientation” – that is, planning ahead.

Singleton also embarrassed California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. In 2007, he was hired by O’Connell to give diversity training. O’Connell then was publicly ridiculed after he repeated an offensive stereotype voiced by Glenn Singleton: that blacks, as a people, are loud, and need to have their loudness accommodated in the schools. In fact, many minority students express dismay about how loud and disorderly their classes are, finding that to be a major impediment to learning. The head of San Francisco’s NAACP demanded an apology from O’Connell for spreading this unfounded racial stereotype.

  1. Ibram Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

Kendi’s book advocates racial discrimination that is currently forbidden by law. Kendi states, “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.”

Such discrimination violates the Constitution, which regards discrimination and other racial classifications as a “last resort,” not as the “only remedy” for racist discrimination. (See Bartlett v. Strickland (2009)).

To the Supreme Court, the remedy for “present discrimination” is to compensate the victim or punish the discriminator, not to discriminate in the future against whites. Past discrimination is not supposed to be “remedied” by discrimination against whites, except in unusual circumstances (i.e., if there is evidence that widespread discrimination was recently intentionally committed by the government).

The Supreme Court explained in a 1989 decision that racial preferences in favor of minorities are not a proper remedy by the government for past discrimination, where the past discrimination was “societal,” rather than by the government itself. (See Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989)).

Racial preferences are also not a proper remedy for “individual” instances of racism, that don’t amount to a “systemic pattern of discrimination.” (See Coral Construction Co. v. King County (1991))

Unintentional discrimination is also not supposed to be remedied through racial preferences. (See, e.g., People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997); Michigan Road Builders v. Milliken (1987), aff’d (1989).

Discrimination that happened more than twenty years ago usually doesn’t justify a racial preference, either. (See, e.g., Brunet v. Columbus (1993); Hammon v. Barry (1987)).

So for all these reasons, discrimination is generally not a permissible “remedy” for discrimination, contrary to what Kendi claims.

Kendi also relies on inaccurate assumptions. He states that “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.” But it is wrong to equate disparities with racism. Racial disparities are often not due to racism at all. For example, Asians typically make more money than whites. Hispanics live three years longer than whites, on average. Racial disparities exist everywhere, often for reasons unrelated to racism, as the black economist Thomas Sowell explains in his book Discrimination and Disparities.

Judges have rejected Kendi’s idea that disparities automatically prove discrimination. An appeals court ruled in 2001 that a racial “disparity” in school-discipline rates does not “constitute discrimination,” if school policies are colorblind.

Hans Bader is an attorney practicing in Northern Virginia. This column was published originally at www.libertyunyielding.com.

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46 responses to “Will Virginia Teach Critical Race Theory to Kindergartners?

  1. Interesting article. Thank you.

  2. When I see racism, I see disparities.

  3. Oooh lookie! Asians out-earn whites! See theres no racism!

    Well, lemme see. Why? Well, 23% of Americans live in rural America. 1% of that 23% is Asian. Well, there ya go. They ain’t stupid enough to live in the squalor of shacks in West Virginia and Mississippi.

    http://www.ruralhome.org/storage/research_notes/rrn-race-and-ethnicity-web.pdf

    • “They ain’t stupid enough to live in the squalor of shacks in West Virginia and Mississippi.”

      WOW – such geoist hatred and lack of knowledge about the area. I bet you wouldn’t say that to Chuck Yeager or Richard Wright….on second thought you probably would.

    • Flawed argument. Looks at one aspect of Asian American culture. In urban Fairfax County Asian Americans vastly out compete white students in admission to Thomas Jefferson High School. It’s almost like the Asian American students plan ahead and work hard from K-8 in order to get into TJ. Oh wait – only systemically racist white people use the cultural hammer of planning ahead. I forgot. Must be pro-Asian American prejudice.

      Your arguments are absurd. Asian-Americans differentially succeed because they have a high percentage of intact family units, value education, work hard and are willing to defer gratification. They also have parents who tend to take their children’s educations seriously.

      You know – American dream and all that stuff liberals despise.

      • DJ – do you know the percent of economically disadvantaged for Asians in Fairfax and Loudoun?

        Do you think that the Asians that are there are better off economically than blacks or hispanics?

        • “Do you think that the Asians that are there are better off economically than blacks or hispanics?” This is an absurd question. Which Asians? When in time? Which blacks? When in time? Which Hispanics? When in time? I suspect that a lot of variables factor in. When did the individuals arrive in the United States? Where they born here? How many generations have lived in the United States. Where did they come from? What was their economic and social status in their country of birth? Did they arrive legally or illegally in the United States?

          My kids came from Korea with one change of clothes, a couple of unused disposable diapers and a couple of bottles.

        • The question about their past does indeed vary by individual but it also varies by class and their treatment as a race and generational impacts of it.

          The question about the present is whether or not a childs academic performance is correlated to the education and income level of their parents.

          but I still ask the same question – why are the SOL test scores so different by school in Fairfax.

          Why?

          • Because some kids are, well, not very bright. Some kids don’t work hard. One of my brothers was like that. He was a screw-off until his third year in college. And his earlier grades reflected that. He and his mother had many heart-to-heart talks. Today, he teaches AP classes in New Hampshire.

            We give poor kids many more resources than non-poor kids in Fairfax County. Lots of kids take advantage of the added help, but some don’t. They generally don’t succeed. That’s life.

          • individual kids yes. We’re talking about an entire school that scores 30 points lower on SOLs than another school – why?

            All the kids in the lower school are not bright or screw-ups?

            ” We give poor kids many more resources than non-poor kids in Fairfax County. Lots of kids take advantage of the added help, but some don’t. They generally don’t succeed. That’s life.”

            You do. So why do some schools with hundreds of kids score 30 points lower than another school if they both “get more resources”?

          • We already spend much more in these schools with low-income students than we do in other schools. We give low-income students more individual attention than other students receive. We exceed government requirements for these kids and schools. People in Fairfax County have done more than what’s fair to help lower-income students. Some will pass. Others will fail. That’s life.

          • You’re talking about individual students. I’m asking why an entire school with hundreds of kids scores 30 points lower than another school with similar numbers of kids.

            They’re probably spending more money on the low income in both the schools, right?

            So why are the school scores so different if both of them are helping low income students?

    • You’re absolutely right. They should be smart enough to live in the squalor of shacks in Virginia.

  4. https://youtu.be/tJUexNM3efo

    All the textbooks in the world cannot overcome the impressions made by one viral video. What textbook will you and Sherlock write, Mr. Bader, to fix this? (Interesting that the YouTube ad that is attached to this, at least when I checked it, was for a Democratic candidate….Ya’ll getting this, guys? No, you are not.)

    • well not just ONE video – one after another even as the deniers say it’s really “rare” and the media is “hyping” it.

      And another pattern is emerging and that is the officers get away with it unless a video surfaces – even weeks or months later. When the video comes out, they are then fired – but not before.

      And this is happening even though there are black police chiefs and black Mayors.

      So what do folks like Bader do in the face of this? Well they basicall ignore it, pretend it does not exist, and talk about CRT instead.

      • Well, that cop was promptly fired. You assume what happens in the cases w/o video, but you don’t know. Doesn’t matter. It needs to stop.

        • like I said, as soon as the video surfaces but not before.

          the message is clear. Get caught on video and you’re toast. If not, you’re golden.

          And I have to ask – with all the videos already released are Cops congenitally stupid?

          • Another of your classic fallacies, Larry. Where do you know the outcome of the incidents you don’t know about? You don’t. You assume.

    • Man, if only Clayton County cop demographics broke down the same way that the LAPD (~70% nonwhite) or CPD (~50% nonwhite) do.

      In broad strokes, we have a situation where:
      1) Racism plays a meaningful role in police violence;
      2) Greater hiring diversity plays a not-so-meaningful role in reducing police violence;
      3) Diversity training is treated as a “liability budget,” and trainers tilt toward being either mercenary box-checkers or self-aggrandizing propagandists.

      To my eyes, local law enforcement careers in the US attract certain personality types — regardless of race — who enjoy the prospect of state-licensed head-cracking more than abstract notions of community safety. Further, the idealized progressive “good cop” candidate knows they have better career prospects in other fields, from both a compensation and social status perspective.

      We can paraphrase Brecht all day and hope that the government “dissolves the police, and elects another,” but unless our solution centers bringing a whole new type of candidate into academies en masse, we’ll just be paying for more bandaids over more wounds.

      • re: ” To my eyes, local law enforcement careers in the US attract certain personality types — regardless of race — who enjoy the prospect of state-licensed head-cracking more than abstract notions of community safety. ”

        somehow, there almost has to be some truth to this.

        Not all cops, but enough so those types of cops seem to be fairly widely distributed across the many police forces and I do wonder how many also have a military type background.

        If we just had this kind of thing going on across the demographics more or less equally, we could say we have a police training problem.

        But when this happens unequally to the races – and it’s on camera – AND the people having the tar beat of them are guilty of seemingly minor infractions – and we have folks insisting that the race thing is way overblown – and instead the real threat is CRT… it walks and talks like a white supremacy narrative.

        I’m no fan of CRT myself , but I’m even less a fan of denial of clear racism ongoing.

        • Larry, check out J. Cobbina’s research on police reform in Baltimore if you want a more built-out picture of what I’m referencing. The BPD invested considerable resources in both diversity hiring and training following Freddie Gray’s death, becoming a majority-minority institution in the process. Self-reported incidents of police misconduct by community members — as well as reports of official police misconduct — went up during the process, but it’s not clear if there’s a causal element at play. In any case, such classic reforms *did not* help the issue.

          My first experiences with diversity & sensitivity training were at a small private security concern in NoVA, employed as a wee college intern alongside physical security professionals with federal law enforcement/military backgrounds. They were good folks, politically mixed, and unusually demographically representative of the country, but nothing united them more than their visceral dislike for the kind of training neigh-universally hailed in the media as a curative for race-inflected police abuse. You get to be friends with people like this and the reason for their opposition to such approaches becomes crystal-clear.

          The dynamic, at least within a company like that, is for management to paper over the intractably violent nature of the job with make-work exercises meant not to actually change outcomes but to lessen the the liability of the organization itself. People smell the BS from a mile away, and that kills whatever positive potential these training sessions can have. From what I hear, the dynamic is not so different on the public side of things.

          If we’re sticking with “racism remains the central issue in police violence,” then the first order of business is to make anti-racist interventions “not BS.” I have no clue what that would look like, let alone how to bring it about.

          • Thanks Novalad, will do but fundamental change has occurred with the advent of cell phones.

            Bad police will still beat the tar out of folks in unseen locations but anymore on most public (and private) spaces it will be tougher and tougher and cameras will also capture other behaviors that don’t necessarily result in force incidents – like how people get treated in other interactions.

            The cat is out of the bag – and police departments are going to have to change and the standard BS paper-covering strategies are not going to any long “hide” the actual realities.

            We all want the police to provide security and order – and they do just that in most every other developed country without the problems we seem to have.

            Any of those other countries would be good models for policing in this country, IMHO.

          • Who will watch the watchers? We all will, it seems.

            You’re right — this sort of direct, distributed power of the public to hold LEOs accountable is a net good. But mass smartphone use has been with us for a decade, and the degree to which it’s actually influenced the behavior of departments is more tied to national media coverage than it is to the proliferation of “bad cop” videos on YouTube or LiveLeak in itself. I’m confident such recordings will have a lasting, positive impact on use of force in some areas of the country, but I’m equally confident the steady release of bad shoot videos will lead to different sorts of bad shoots in urban areas, as with the LA incident that Nathan calls out below. Police forces will close ranks and hunt down the perpetrators, leading to more bad shoots.

            I really do think the end-state of all these trends is Belfast during the Troubles, not Stockholm 2020. Our culture of violence is that of the Scottish Borders, not the yearly moose-hunt in Jamtland. Broadcasting murder to kith and kin begets more violence, not peace and reconciliation.

            It’d be nice if there were a way to defang these recordings as national media market blood libel while still keeping them intact for legal purposes — some sort of UK-style gag order, maybe. But good luck getting that past the courts, let alone social media.

          • re: ” Police forces will close ranks and hunt down the perpetrators, leading to more bad shoots.”

            that’s a pretty dark vision …..

            and I’m not exactly sure just what this means: ” I really do think the end-state of all these trends is Belfast during the Troubles, not Stockholm 2020. Our culture of violence is that of the Scottish Borders, not the yearly moose-hunt in Jamtland. Broadcasting murder to kith and kin begets more violence, not peace and reconciliation.” but it sounds equally dark.

            Sounds like some folks are heavy into Game of Thrones…

      • There’s something going on with the police. Too many incidents of obvious police brutality against black people. Too many of my black friends saying they are legitimately in fear when they get pulled over. Not sure why it happens with police but not so much in the military.

  5. I don’t assume anything Steve. I’m looking at what we do see.

    Do you have to do some kind of statistical process to confirm what you’re looking at?

    • I don’t need evidence to prove the assertion “I don’t know.” I don’t know. You need evidence to prove your assertion that cops are ONLY disciplined when there is video made public.

      • It’s a pattern and no release of information (that would help their cause) of officers who were disciplined.

        If the premise is that we’re not seeing the whole picture – why aren’t the police showing it and rebutting the perception with these videos?

        You can’t have a bunch of officials involved in the death of someone in March – only getting fired AFTER the video is released 4 months later.

        Why didn’t they release that data when the incident happened – and say it was under investigation and release the video at that time?

        We have a pattern here of this kind of thing happening – and it not getting released in a timely manner and sometimes not at all until the courts order it.

        You say “more evidence”. I don’t think that washes in the minds of those who think there is a problem especially those who believe there is a problem – this way of dealing with it – does not engender trust and each time it happens again – it gets even worse.

        You’ve got unrest in the streets over this – and you got people playing the law & order thing in response to it instead of insisting on change.

        Give the Va GA credit. They have acted. They may not have got it 100% right and may need to further calibrate – but they did act because apparently there IS enough evidence to warrant those actions.

        A significant majority of people believe there is a problem and do support changes. A smaller number disagree and in my mind, just deny.

  6. The country is not spatially invariant nor the races homogeneous. Rural Massachusetts is far better off than rural Mississippi. More opportunity in cities and a greater percentage of the Asian population liives in cities ~17:1. That alone explains higher median income.

    Last week James tried to use SAT scores. But those are voluntary, and there’s no information onn the depth of the bench. It would be better to use the top 60 Asian scores and compare to the to 750 White score than just the racial means of all scores.

    • Try again. Even in Fairfax County Asian Americans make more than whites. I guess it’s all those whites living in the vast wilderness of rural Fairfax County that skews the results.

      https://datausa.io/profile/geo/fairfax-county-va

      • So you’re essentially proving the point that Asians that do live in NoVa are high income earners and quite likely to be highly educated so is there any surprise that they strongly advocate for their children’s education no different than well-educated , higher income parents of any color or ethnicity do?

        The argument is not that Asians do better than the other races as much as it is that well-educated, higher income do better than less-educated, lower income regardless of color and ethnicity.

      • Well, what brought them there, how many were there aleady? NoVA is a money center. There’s bucks and jobs. It draws the BoBs. If Amazon opens a site and hires 4000 people at 150K each and the majority are Asians, that’s going to kill the median salaries. If they are driven to the higher paying jobs, that alone will do it.

        You need more than medians. You need the moments of the distributions.

        As for the SATs, suppose you held a basketball game, “War of the Races”, and 5 Asians and 10 white guys show up. They play to 51-50 in the hour. Wow, the average Asian kid shot for 10.2 points. The white guys only averaged 5.

      • There’s still a trailer park or two in Fairfax County.

  7. Interesting stats here:

    Race Disadvantaged Full Time Count (All Grades)

    Fairfax:

    Asian N 29,460
    Asian Y 7,297

    Black N 9,837
    Black Y 8,722

    Hispani N 19,374
    Hispani Y 31,309

    White N 64,882
    White Y 6,585

    Loudoun

    Asian N 16,912
    Asian Y 2,160

    Black N 3,847
    Black Y 1,843

    Hispani N 5,936
    Hispani Y 8,994

    White N 35,834
    White Y 2,813

    Source: VDOE Fall Membership Build-a-Table (a separate build-a-table from the accessment build-a-table)

    • Very good, Larry, now go the next step and compared “disadvantaged” Asians versus disadvantaged whites, blacks and Hispanics, and compare “not disadvantaged” Asians versus whites, blacks and Hispanics and report back to us what you get.

      • Jim – the point is that economically advantaged kids usually have educated parents who are economically secure and support their kids efforts to excel academically.

        It’s likely, it’s the advantaged kids that are applying in number to the magnet schools.

        It’s not that Asians “do better” overall as much as it is that all kids who have educated parents tend to do better.

        I made my case. How about you do what you’re recommending and make that case?

  8. Actually my point was different than yours.

    My premise was that the numbers of economically disadvantaged Asians in Fairfax and Loudoun are quite small and no surprise that the ones that are not – do well in school and compete in larger numbers for magnet schools than others who are economically disadvantaged.

    Your premise is that the Asians that ARE economically disadvantaged do better than other races that are economically disadvantaged.

    correct?

    I do not dispute that but it’s not a large number of kids (about 2000 in a school system of 188,000 about .1% – and it matters a lot what neighborhood schools they go to – and how deeply economically disadvantaged they are.

    Comparing how public schools designate economically disadvantaged compared to other institutions – schools count about 5% more as disadvantaged that other measures (like 200% of poverty rate).

  9. Here’s Jim’s point for Fairfax and Loudoun economically disadvantaged by race/ethnicity:

    Fairfax
    Subject Race Pass Rate
    English:Reading Asian 76.86
    English:Reading Black, not of Hispanic origin 62.1
    English:Reading Hispanic 51.87
    English:Reading White, not of Hispanic origin 71.28

    Loudoun

    English:Reading Asian 78.36
    English:Reading Black, not of Hispanic origin 64.34
    English:Reading Hispanic 53.27
    English:Reading White, not of Hispanic origin 73.56

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Thanks Mr. Bader. I emailed the VDOE Board and let them have it. I feel better now. I don’t think anybody is going to listen to me but the blood pressure feels right again.

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