Opposing “Critical Race Theory,” Or How Fascists (Try to) Hide Their History

Virulent racism is alive and well in Virginia. As some emerge from coronavirus restrictions, the battle over what we’re teaching our children in public schools is ramping up. The latest fight against the truth is a new Red Scare, using bad-faith arguments to stretch the meaning of complex terms like “critical race theory” (CRT) and bend history around false imperialist ideologies. 

What is Anti-Critical Race Theory? A Simple Grift.

The Editorial Staff here at Virginia CPUSA would like to formally thank the conservative reactionary behind this fight against CRT, Mr. Christopher F. Rufo, for explaining his grift so succinctly on Twitter. As his tweets plainly state, the goal behind Rufo’s scam is, “driving up negative perceptions [of CRT]. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Parents: if your child is learning critical race theory under the age of 18, congratulations! They have been accepted into law school and are taking high-level post-grad courses on complex legal frameworks. However, there are no public schools currently teaching this subject to children. This hasn’t stopped conservative lawmakers from banning the CRT framework in several states. What conservatives are working against is not actually CRT, but a basic history of the United States told by the oppressed instead of the oppressor. 

This history accurately portrays U.S. conservatives, and their liberal partners, as blood-thirsty colonizers who have built their colonial empire through slavery and genocide. These facts are globally understood and accepted as truth, except by those seeking to continue that legacy of violence and domination. In a school system that has traditionally taught American history through the lens of the oppressor, it’s no surprise that the children who have grown up with this false history deeply ingrained into their belief systems now wish to secure it for their children. This desire, from conservative or liberal perspectives, only serves to further entrench white supremacy in our schools and our society. 

No one wants to see themselves as the villain. If they want to maintain their power, settler states need to hide or obfuscate their violent colonial histories. As Canada reckons with the discovery of hidden mass graves outside residential schools containing the remains of thousands of murdered First Nations children, so too does the U.S. continue the losing fight to deny its own history and claim that its clearly documented crimes never happened. The latest tool white supremacy uses to protect its power is vocal opposition to something that’s not actually happening: CRT being taught to children.

The Fight Against Facts Gets Local.

Across the country, the fight against anti-racism is ramping up as conservatives in dozens of states are putting forward or have already approved bills that seek to ban teachers from discussing race in the classroom; a clear and lofty goal of white supremacists everywhere. Fortunately, teachers and educators who understand that these laws do nothing but restrict lessons on racism are standing up and speaking out. 

Here in Virginia, the heart of the Confederacy, school board meetings are becoming increasingly heated on the subject of teaching history accurately to students. This week, one such meeting in Loudoun county ended with two conservatives being arrested after the meeting was declared an unlawful assembly. As one of the most affluent counties in the country, Loudoun in particular has turned into a central battleground against anti-racism, trans rights, and other important struggles. In particular, conservatives have lumped transphobia into their “brand category” through extreme opposition to Loudoun County Public School’s new Draft Policy #8040, which states that, “all students shall be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, or gender identity/expression.” 

The Prince William County School Board has faced similar criticisms for their latest Equity Statement which plainly states its intentions to, “[assure] all PWCS staff members examine and interrupt beliefs, implicit and explicit biases, policies and/or practices that perpetuate systemic racism and discrimination.” As Rufo intended, reactionaries are using the term “CRT” to lump all of these things that go against their agenda (trans rights, antiracism, bias training, etc.) into one big insidious liberal scheme. 

What most conservatives don’t realize about CRT is that it is far from being some neoliberal plot. Instead, the original CRT framework has a long history of condemning the “well-meaning liberals” and “white moderates” who have always favored unjust incrementalism over radical change. Most modern opponents of CRT make it clear in their rhetoric that they can’t actually define what it is. As Rufo intended, CRT is simply an umbrella term for any topic even slightly race-adjacent that disagrees with the conservative’s intentional misreading of history.

The supposed controversy over CRT is closely related to CPUSA’s historical and ongoing commitment to the fight against racism. If you want to get involved, we encourage every citizen dedicated to anti-racism and trans rights to reach out to your local school board to express your support for teaching history and making schools safe for trans kids.

On a final note in further support of CRT, social justice, and the downfall of oppressors, academics have been further developing the field of qallunology. Derived from the Inuit word for Europeans (qallunaat), the study focuses on white colonial cultures through a Native or Indigenous lens.

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