The Columbia University professor lets it rip, as he is prone to do, at his Substack newsletter. A lot of things worth considering here. McWhorter has always made a lot of sense to me on this issue. Here is a taste:
Elects commonly insist that critics of CRT would feel differently if they read actual foundational articles about it. But the issue is what is being done in CRT’s name, not what some articles contained decades ago.
The early writings by people like Regina Austin, Richard Delgado, Kimberlé Crenshaw are simply hard-leftist legal analysis, proposing a revised conception of justice that takes oppression into account, including a collective sense of subordinate group identity. These are hardly calls to turn schools into Maoist re-education camps fostering star chambers and struggle sessions.
However, this, indeed, is what is happening to educational institutions across the country. Moreover, it is no tort to call it “CRT” in shorthand when:
1) these developments are descended from its teachings and
2) their architects openly bill themselves as following the tenets of CRT.
In language, terms evolve, and quickly — witness, of late, how this has happened with cancel culture and even woke. To insist that “CRT” must properly refer only to the contents of obscure law review articles from decades ago is a debate team stunt, not serious engagement with a dynamic and distressing reality.
Now – are there some among critics of today’s CRT who just want us to stop talking about race at all? Are some of them the kind of white person who thinks racism of any note basically ended in the 1960s and that today we need to “stop stirring all of that stuff up”? Likely. But the evidence that this is the heart, the primum mobile, of resistance to “CRT” in our schools is comic book stuff.
Is anyone taken seriously actually proposing that students should learn nothing of slavery in school, or that students should never be taught that racism is anything but cross-burning and the N-word? Or, is it that a certain kind of person goes about every hungry to accuse people of this aim, in order to fulfill their duty of identifying racism wherever they can find it?
In a dialogue premised on good faith, we can assume that when politicos and parents decry “Critical Race Theory,” what they refer to is the idea of oppression and white perfidy treated as the main meal of an entire school’s curriculum.
In other words, the issue here is not whether schoolkids should learn about racism. A certain kind of person loves to stand and breezily say that there are swarms of people out there who don’t want kids to know about racism – and they say this with admirable oppositional poise but not a shred of evidence.
Rather, what most of us (as opposed to the Establishment in schools of education) think, and are correct about, is this:
1. Young children should not be taught if white to be guilty and if black to feel a) oppressed and b) wary of white kids around them (and if South Asian to be very, very confused …).
2. Young children should not be taught that the American story is mainly (note I write mainly rather than only, but mainly is just as awful here) one of oppression and racism. Not because it’s unpleasant and because sinister characters want to “hide” it, but because it’s dumb.
It is willfully blind to the complexity inherent to history, not to mention reality itself. Just as resonant a case could be made that America is founded on sexism, or classism – and the cases would be equally simplistic propaganda.
A lot more here.
Is what McWhorter decries in this piece actually happening in schools? He claims in this podcast that he hears every day from people experiencing this stuff.