By: Dr. Deborah De Sousa Owens 

Good people are being misled about racism and civil rights. Preying on the popular desire to champion equality, leftists have persuaded millions of Americans to adopt a political view that seeks nothing less than the destruction of American institutions and paints entire groups as fundamentally racist.

In other words, the left has hijacked civil rights in order to advance a philosophy that reduces history, institutions, and individuals to racial groups. If that sounds like racism to you, that’s because it is. But it’s racism cloaked in academic language and righteous superiority. And it goes by the name of “critical race theory.”

The roots of critical race theory come from Marxism, refined and reshaped through decades of ivory tower indulgence. In fact, if you simply take Marxist theory and replace “class” with “race,” you’ll have a good grasp of the basics of critical race theory. Instead of blaming all social problems on class, it blames them on race. Instead of pushing class warfare, it looks to foment racial anger and division.

That’s not just rhetoric. Proponents of critical race theory are very forthright about their desire to push a race-based political agenda – up to and including policies that favor one race over another. In How to Be an Antiracist, CRT theorist Ibram V. Kendi writes, “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.”

This is a clear rejection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement that we should not judge people, “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you’ve probably been exposed to the language of critical race theory. If you’ve heard the terms “white privilege,” “white fragility,” or “aspects of whiteness,” you’ve seen how CRT can trickle into popular culture. 

It should be obvious by now that a large portion of critical race theory centers on attacks on “whiteness.” Admittedly, this is a somewhat nebulous concept that seems more like part of a stand-up comedy routine than a political theory. But it’s no laughing matter. Critical race theory redefines racism based on effect, not intent. Thus, anything that demonstrates a racial disparity (e.g. fewer minorities in government, a lack of minority-owned Fortune 500 companies, a perceived lack of minority leading roles in blockbuster films, etc.) is evidence of racism.

After changing the meaning of racism, critical race theory then changes the meaning of white supremacy. No longer is it just a noxious belief in racial superiority. According to CRT proponents, white supremacy is the way to describe the society we live in. As Robin DiAngelo writes in White Fragility, “White supremacy in this context does not refer to individual white people and their individual intentions or actions but to an overarching political, economic, and social system of domination.”

Thus, the conclusion of critical race theory is that America is a fundamentally racist country, capitalism is fundamentally racist and “wrong,” and white people bear responsibility for the racist system they have propagated and should make amends for it and for the “privilege” they experience. The only solution is to tear down those systems – governmental, political, and economic – and remake them in a way that redistributes things “equitably” in terms of race. In some iterations (like the notorious flier created by the Smithsonian to talk to children about race), critical race theory labels things like “punctuality,” “belief in the scientific method,” and “hard work” as “aspects of whiteness.”

When critical race theory is pushed on young students, it’s dangerous and destructive tendencies become obvious. Stripped of the academic jargon, the lesson critical race theory presents in elementary and middle schools can be summed up as, “America is bad because it is racist and white people are responsible.”

As a parent, I am appalled that our children are being taught such blatantly racist material. As an African American mother, I am saddened to see the accomplishments of the civil rights movement turned inside out by the left. Even more than that, I am angry. I do not want my children to be indoctrinated in a worldview that turns them into perpetual victims. I don’t want them taught to hate or resent their white brothers and sisters. I want my children to understand the freedom and opportunity America offers, not dismiss it as a “racist system.”

While a few politicians are doing what they can to stop the spread of critical race theory in public schools, ultimately, it is up to parents to keep CRT out of the curriculum. We can start by showing up at school board meetings (and bringing other parents with us) to explain why critical race theory has no place in the classroom. We can contact local principals and state legislators to share our feelings on CRT and why it should not be taught in public schools. To ensure that it doesn’t become part of the state’s education plan, we should contact the state Department of Education and ask if CRT (or “racial equity”) will be part of the curriculum and discuss why this is problematic. Finally, we can start local petitions to raise awareness of the problem and show local officials that parents don’t want CRT in the classroom.

We cannot allow our children to be instructed in racial hate and division. If we want to achieve Dr. King’s dream of a world where character matters more than skin color, we must do what we can to defeat the spread of critical race theory.