Banning Critical Race Theory Is A Good Step, But It Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Banning Critical Race Theory Is A Good Step, But It Doesn’t Go Far Enough

The pathology sweeping the United States has already gained a substantial foothold — one that won't be repulsed by simply creating a law to ban it.
Shannon Whitworth
By

Unfortunately, those who are trying to fight critical race theory and keep it out of our schools have missed the boat: It’s already here.

Critical race theory claims that America is “systemically racist,” and the only solution is discrimination against “whites” in order to make up for past racism against “people of color” — what is often called racial “equity.” It puts power in claiming oppression and has millions climbing over each other to assert the ultimate victimhood status.

This pathology sweeping the United States has already gained a substantial foothold — one that won’t be repulsed by simply creating a law to ban it.

In 2018, after nearly 23 years as a practicing litigator in Wisconsin, I decided to change gears and became the director of the Free Enterprise Academy at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, a part of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, with a student body that consists overwhelmingly of inner-city, economically disadvantaged, black children.

By consistently teaching these students how to use the tools of free enterprise to become financially independent and to build wealth, our teachers are constantly fighting the negativity and hopelessness that barrage our kids from the moment they leave the building. Sometimes it feels like trying to fight back the tide with a tennis racquet.

One course I teach is called “Business Communication.” I regularly ask what those students want to talk about, bring up controversial topics and make them open for debate. I do this to force the students to begin developing critical thinking skills and to expose them to differing points of view in an environment of inspired debate.

As a black conservative, I repeatedly tell my students that I will share my opinion, but they are not required to accept those opinions, and they are free to argue with me on any point I’ve made. Over this past semester, we have addressed myriad social issues, and for the most part, the discussions have been respectful and reasonably well-thought-out, until just the other week when I raised critical race theory.

Although mostly unfamiliar with the term critical race theory, most students in the class appeared very familiar with the concept. I could feel the energy in the room change as the emotional walls began to rise. As I began to explain the concept of critical race theory, I could begin to feel the group take sides.

You can imagine the look of incredulity on my white student’s face as I explained to her that under critical race theory, she is my oppressor. Conversely, I could see a handful of my black students dig in and repeatedly insist that systemic and institutionalized racism are as pervasive in this society as they ever were.

When I asked for evidence of the current systematic or institutionalized racism that allegedly exists in this country, I met anecdotes and dodgy research found on the internet. Moreover, I was disappointed by the unwillingness to continue thinking critically when challenged, as there was this sense that we should all just accept this concept as fact and any further questioning made me a useful idiot for the white man. As a black conservative, I know the look well.

What gave me heart, however, were the quieter students in the class who began asking questions. As I tried to answer as objectively as I could, I noticed some students begin to disavow the narrative that is drilled into their heads the moment they leave our walls.

I do not expect to convince any of them, at least not immediately, but they’re thinking. For the political left, black people thinking for themselves is an extremely dangerous thing.

One student asked me why I thought critical race theory was being pushed into our social fabric. I explained that in my opinion there are people who derive political power from people of color by convincing them that there is ominous racism in the miasma that they need to fight against.

Also, as racism recedes in this country, the enemy they need to fight to stay in power necessarily becomes more caricatured and hyperbolic. That puts us where we are now, with racism nearly tantamount to Original Sin. I also explained that, as an attorney for so long, I know I have won when my adversary can only respond with insults and curse words because they have nothing else.

For all our sakes, I hope and pray these students will grow to see the rank manipulation of critical race theory for exactly what it is, dare to reject it, and free our nation’s consciousness from its insidious grip.

Shannon Whitworth is a Bradley Freedom Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and directs the Free Enterprise Institute at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.

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