OPINION: Critical Race Theory is the New Jim Crow

As the discussion regarding the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) rages across America and through the many school districts attended by the youth of this country I think it is important to step back just a bit to look at just what CRT is and why it is the new Jim Crow.

Just what is critical race theory anyway? Stephen Sawchuk in an article written for Education Week tells us that …

Critical Race Theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

The basic tenets of CRT emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.”

So, clearly we can take away the lesson that CRT was based on a society that was racially biased, segregated and reflected these values in its legal systems and policies. Now if we connect the dots this leads us to what is commonly referred to as “Jim Crow” and laws and policies that were designed specifically to keep us segregated as a society; and while CRT which dates from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s as Sawchuk has told us — Jim Crow’s roots go much deeper in our nation’s history… all the way back to the end of the Civil War. It’s worth taking a look back to just what Jim Crow was all about.

History.Com tells us that:

Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Named after a Black minstrel show character, the laws—which existed for about 100 years, from the post-Civil War era until 1968—were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education or other opportunities.

Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence and death. Jim Crow laws dominated in the south and there is along litany of prejudices and crimes that were perpetrated against Blacks.

History.Com goes on to tell us:

“Laws forbade African Americans from living in white neighborhoods. Segregation was enforced for public pools, phone booths, hospitals, asylums, jails and residential homes for the elderly and handicapped. Some states required separate textbooks for Black and white students. New Orleans mandated the segregation of prostitutes according to race. In Atlanta, African Americans in court were given a different Bible from white people to swear on. Marriage and cohabitation between white and Black people was strictly forbidden in most Southern states. It was not uncommon to see signs posted at town and city limits warning African Americans that they were not welcome there”.

As a person that grew up in the segregated south I had the opportunity to personally witness the application of Jim Crow — segregated schools and classrooms, bathroom facilities in public spaces, hotels and restaurants as well as segregated housing.

In fact I believe that it is safe to say that the entire premise of Jim Crow was to separate and divide the population by exercising an oppressor, a white person, who systematically oppresses those of color.

The good news in all of this is that I was old enough through the 1950’s and 1960’s to see Jim Crow come to an end. The post-World War II era saw an increase in civil rights activities in the African American community, with a focus on ensuring that Black citizens were able to vote. This ushered in the civil rights movement, resulting in the removal of Jim Crow laws.

In 1948 President Harry Truman ordered integration in the military, and in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that educational segregation was unconstitutional, bringing to an end the era of “separate-but-equal” education.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which legally ended the segregation that had been institutionalized by Jim Crow laws. And in 1965, the Voting Rights Act halted efforts to keep minorities from voting. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which ended discrimination in renting and selling homes, followed. So why CRT and why is it in fact the new Jim Crow?

As we have seen, CRT points out the flaws in our history — racism, discrimination, and bias were a part of American society — a historical fact that cannot be swept under the rug. But as an advanced society should do, we recognized our flaws followed the lead of our political leaders and those who fought to eliminate Jim Crow and to evaluate each person on the content of their character and not the color of their skin…

And right up to about 2004 we were making great progress. But progress is slow, laws need to be passed and attitudes and minds need to be reset. But there are some who are not content with understanding and studying history — they feel compelled to change it and CRT has become the “thing” that serves their purpose best.

However there is a flaw in their approach. If the schools wish to teach CRT to elementary school children they are in fact perpetuation the very essence of what they are trying to defeat — Jim Crow.

How is this possible you ask? In order to understand CRT you must first be taught that there is an “oppressor” and one who is “oppressed.” This is exactly what parents all across the county have been objecting too. Black mothers and fathers no longer see themselves or their children as oppressed. White mothers and fathers no longer see themselves or their children as oppressors. In fact given the progress that has been made over the past 70 or so years it would not be uncommon to see the reverse situation in which all privilege and wealth is acquired and earned by Black members of our society and not those of the White race.

So why burden our children with such antiquated notions as espoused in CRT? It appears that the real answer is as simple as … it is the flavor of the day. A small but very vocal constituency of Black Marxists, Progressive politicians and “woke” schoolboard members and administrators feel that awakening Jim Crow is just what the country needs … to further divide us! And make no mistake it is an awakening of Jim Crow all over again. We know this because we can see what is happening all around us.

After fighting for some 70 years to ensure that our most prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Yale are accepting student based on their abilities and not on the color of their skin what do we find:

“A new report by the National Association of Scholars has identified more than 75 schools offering segregated graduations. These supplemental commencement ceremonies are offered in addition to the universities’ regular graduation ceremonies and are not mandatory”. The National Association of Scholars looked at 173 schools and found that 76 of them, or 44%, offer these ceremonies. These range from small private schools to big public universities. Some notable ones include Harvard, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Arizona State University, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Yale. The “Undefeated” goes on to tell us: Don’t hate on black graduation ceremony at Harvard University; Undergrads participated this year, but other schools have been doing it for years.

We also learn that Demands for Segregated Housing at Williams College Are Not News. In an article written by DION J. PIERRE, May 8, 2019:

“Like Doc Brown’s DeLorean in Back to the Future, many college campuses are racing back to the year 1955. On April 17, a student newspaper at Williams College endorsed “affinity housing” for black students and other minorities — which is to say, it endorsed segregation. The students claim segregation will make Williams a “more welcoming, supportive and safe community for minoritized students.” “The newspaper’s endorsement received a lot of media coverage, but it was not really news. We at the National Association of Scholars (NAS) recently launched Separate but Equal, Again: Neo-Segregation in American Higher Education, a project examining racial segregation on college campuses such as Columbia University, Yale University, MIT, and others. Surveying 173 schools, we found that 42 percent offer segregated residences, 46 percent offer segregated orientation programs, and 72 percent host segregated graduation ceremonies. We call this “neo-segregation”: the voluntary and institutionally sanctioned segregation of minority students in the post–Brown v. Board era.”

So now let’s connect the final dots in this discussion — if Jim Crow is segregation by definition and CRT is taught to our students from the very first day of school so that by the time they reach the university level they believe that segregating the races is more welcoming, supportive and safe community for minoritized students then we are left to conclude that CRT is by definition the “NEW JIM CROW”.

It is a complex issue that America and Americans will be called on for some time to resolve. But it cannot and will not be resolved as long as we continue to teach “Jim Crow” to our children. Parents across the country are right and the teachers unions and school boards are wrong — CRT perpetuates a dark time in our history — history class is where history needs to be taught — it does not need to be sugar coated nor does it have to lead us to another era of “Jim Crow” in America.

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