Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the “alt-right” march down East Market Street toward Emancipation Park during the “Unite the Right” rally Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).
By Michael Coard
The entire political platform of Glenn Youngkin, the Republican who won Virginia’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday, is made clear in just one (despicably pandering) quote by him: “Critical Race Theory has moved into our school system and we have to remove it.”
But he’s not the only one who supports that ignorant and racist platform. It’s also the 1.7 million Virginians who voted for him.
And it’s not just those voters who enthusiastically supported that ignorant and racist platform. It’s also elected and/or appointed Republican officials in at least 36 state and local governmental bodies who have passed, introduced, or are considering anti-Critical Race Theory (CRT) laws, ordinances, rules and policies.
You want proof? Here’s proof as documented by the Brookings Institution:
“Eight states (Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) have passed anti-CRT legislation.” Such legislative initiatives “ban … any discussions about conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression …. State actors in Montana and South Dakota have denounced teaching concepts associated with CRT. The state school boards in Florida, Georgia, Utah, and Oklahoma introduced new guidelines barring CRT-related discussions. Local boards in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia also criticize CRT. Nearly 20 additional states have introduced or plan to introduce similar legislation.”
This avalanche of blatant anti-Blackness, euphemistically called anti-CRT, is based solely on ignorance and racism. An excellent example of such woeful ignorance and underlying racism is evidenced by a white voter who was interviewed by a reporter in Virginia shortly before the election. Here’s the actual conversation:
Q: “What’s the most important issue in the governor’s race …?”
A: “Getting back to the basics of teaching children. Not teaching them Critical Race Theory.”
Q: “And what is Critical Race Theory?”
A: “Well, I’m not gonna get into the specifics of it because I don’t understand it that much …. What little bit that I know I don’t care for.”
Q: “And what have you heard that you don’t like?”
A: “… I don’t, uh, [long pause] I don’t have that much knowledge on it, but it’s something that … I don’t care for.”
If that American voter’s ignorance wasn’t so dangerously racist, it would be absolutely hilarious. By the way, don’t take my word for it. Check out the videotaped interview for yourself at https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVwtWlSFeUe/?utm_medium=share_sheet.
For the record, CRT is not what ignorant white racist voters, ignorant white racist officials, and ignorant white racist candidates claim it is. And it is not taught and was never designed to be taught in pre-schools, elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools or high schools.
CRT is a law school concept that grew out of Critical Legal Studies. As defined in the “Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society,” CRT examines legal issues as they pertain to race and racism. Furthermore, as explained in “Race, Ethnicity, and Education,” CRT examines how so-called colorblind laws promote structural racism.
The American Bar Association (ABA) notes that CRT is “a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society [and CRT] emerged in the legal academy.”
Moreover, the ABA reports that “CRT … critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers. … CRT recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past. Instead, it acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.”
And CRT wasn’t created in the past several months’ election cycle. The then-unnamed concept was set forth about 50 years ago by Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell in his 1978 book entitled “Race, Racism and American Law.”
His groundbreaking Critical Legal Studies scholarship on the issue of past and present structural/institutional racism within the American legal system was subsequently expanded upon by professors at the University of Alabama Law School, SUNY-Buffalo Law School, UCLA Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Hawaii Law School, University of Wisconsin Law School, and Columbia University Law School.
In fact, it was Columbia University Law School professor Kimberle Crenshaw who refined Critical Legal Studies by later coining the phrase “Critical Race Theory.”
The fact that ignorant racists have fraudulently transformed CRT into a monster that can carry racist candidates to victory on Election Day is outrageous. But it’s America.
That’s exactly why, the day after the election, I posted the following on my Twitter and Instagram accounts: “Don’t be surprised when white racist Americans in white racist America vote as a majority for white racist American candidates with a white racist American political platform. Be surprised when they don’t.”
Racism is America and America is racism. Remember that 41 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 enslaved Black men, women and children.
Remember that 13 of the first 18 U.S. presidents enslaved Black men, women, boys and girls.
Remember that the U.S. Constitution in 1789 defined enslaved Blacks as subhuman by counting them as a mere three-fifths of a human being. It established the racist Electoral College. It continued the importation of Africans into American slavery for at least two more decades. And it tightened the grip of slavery by requiring free states to return escapees to “slave” states.
Remember that the U.S. Supreme Court, in the notorious 1857 Dred Scott case, ruled that Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect” and remember that that ruling has never — I repeat never — been overturned by the Supreme Court.
Remember that Congress in 1865 didn’t completely abolish slavery by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment but instead actually created the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration by stating that people can legally be held in slavery and involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been convicted….”
Remember that KKK-endorsed, Nazi-loving former President Donald Trump won in 2016 with 63 million Americans voting for him and, even in his 2020 defeat, got 74 million Americans to vote for him.
Remember that here in 2021, Congress, which is elected by American voters, continues to refuse to pass the Emmet Till Anti-Lynching bill that is designed to simply and finally specify lynching as a hate crime, just as it refuses to pass the 1918 Dyer Anti-Lynching bill, the 2018 Justice for Victims of Lynching bill, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the For the People Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
By the way, as of February this year, Republican state lawmakers have carried over, pre-filed, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access — i.e., Black, Brown and Red voting access — in 43 states.
In 2016, I wrote a column for tehe Philadelphia Tribune pointing out that Time magazine had cited a YouGov/Economist exit poll in which the supporters of Trump were asked if they approved or disapproved of emancipation for Blacks. Nearly half — a whopping 47% — disapproved, had some reservations, or weren’t sure.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that, in 2021, America is filled with racists who vote. And win.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then register and vote. And outnumber the racists so we can defeat the racists. By doing so, we will finally change America.
Opinion contributor Michael Coard is an attorney and radio host. His work appears regularly on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. He wrote this column for the Philadelphia Tribune, where it first appeared.
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