Guest column: Being critical about critical race theory

The Daily Ardmoreite
Dr. Maurice Franklin

James Baldwin suggested, "ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." Who is really hating who?

Martin Luther King Jr. said upon the remembrance of the work of renowned sociologist and historian W.E.B. DuBois, so long as the devaluation of Black people persisted, "the brutality and criminality of conduct toward the Negro was easy for the conscience to bear. The twisted logic ran: If the black man was inferior, he was not oppressed."

This twisted logic and psychosis propel many who are paranoid and fixated against contemporary Critical Race Theory. The latest national political polls suggest many Republicans are against Critical Race Theory and believe teaching African American history is anti-white and anti-American. Some believe this is a political strategy to demonize black and brown folks. The othering of black and brown people is not a new political strategy. Look no further than Republican political strategist, Lee Atwater, or the former occupant of the White House. They weaponized race-based negative messaging as their primary political strategy. The current acceleration of racialized political process is driven by a dwindling white U.S. population, national electoral politics, and the need for absolute white power and control.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to ban the teaching of the theory in his state and falsely suggested, "Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other."  These fire starters have attempted to compare Critical Race Theory to Marxism disingenuously. While that dog whistle excites the base, the strategy's puppeteers aim to drive further a wedge of hate and division among fellow Americans. A racially divided America is an excellent strategy if you are only concerned with power and control. However, on the local level, it pits neighbor against neighbor.

Critical Race Theory is a legal principle that looks at implicit bias and its impact on race, class, and privilege. Critical Race Theory is not a calculated effort created by a Black academic plot to redress the effect of slavery in the United States. Critical Race Theory is a theoretical methodology developed to examine and test the impact of slavery on systems and practices. Critical Race theorists see racism as organized and systematic. As a theory, it is certainly not as organized as the 400 years of brutal, systematic oppression and racism, whose impact it attempts to quantify.

This mania and hysteria over Critical Race Theory are part of a political strategy to demonize black and brown folks. Demonizing Black Americans is not a new political strategy. This calculated racialized strategy is motivated by a dwindling white U.S. population, shrinking electoral political control, and the need for power and control.

These false comparisons and narratives are driven by a far-right-leaning white supremacist, who attempt to whitewash American history as a singular, exceptional story of conquering pilgrims minus the rape and pillage of natives and farmers and builders' sans the middle passage of enslaved Africans. That narrative is just false and ahistorical.

Black history is American history, and systematic racism is a relic of global colonialization. This toxic paranoia is driving extremists to devalue and suppress the franchise of black and brown people worldwide. However, these current discussion about Critical Race Theory is a right-wing manufactured bruhaha, nothing burger aimed at furthering and capitalizing off American division. Who is really hating who?

— Dr. Maurice Franklin is a professor of public policy and public administration at Cal State Northridge. He lectures and consults on organizational sustainability and development strategies. His published works include a focus on social justice and social equity.