Critical Race Theory (CRT) is just the latest boogeyman of white supremacists.
CRT holds that racism is systematically structured in American institutions. Thus, it is “baked in” the system. It is systemic.
CRT is not new. It is a relatively new term addressing the older concept of Systemic Racism. What CRT brought to the table was a more focused argument about the role of laws in the maintenance of systemic racism, something implicit if not explicit in sociological theories.
CRT has become a trending issue in the news, especially regarding its use in public schools. However, there is little to no evidence that critical race theory is being taught to K-12 public school students.
Then why is Critical Race Theory under such heavy attack? There are at least four reasons.
Critical Race Theory is under attack because a large segment of white America continues to push white supremacy in traditional ways. They fight to keep fundamental truths about the centrality of race and racism in America’s establishment, growth, and maintenance away from its citizens.
Education has always been complicit in this effort. And white supremacists are currently resisting any potential change to that process.
A second reason that CRT is under attack is that many people are confused about racism. Typically, people regard racism as something that bigoted people do intentionally. They base this view on the faulty assumption that all racism proceeds from individual prejudice.
Yes, biased individuals may commit racism and may do so because they are prejudiced. But individual racism is often petit racism, which is bothersome but not crucial in the grand scheme of racial things. Moreover, individual racism is significantly less consequential than systemic racism—racism spewing from the operation of American institutions.
A third reason CRT is under attack is that it forces a fault line between liberals and progressives. Many liberals are not wholly on board with the idea of baked-in systemic racism, and therefore they do not defend it forcefully.
Liberals believe that American institutions are sound but need a little tinkering here and there. Progressives know better. They know that many institutions need restructuring.
A fourth reason is the myth of individualism. A quick review of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and CRT illustrates that issue.
In 2019, the world’s largest Baptist denomination, SBC, passed a resolution adopting CRT as a major tool in their anti-racism work. However, SBC is the denomination that supported slavery and the 100 years of American Apartheid that followed the Civil War. Consequently, they have not done much anti-racism work.
The resolution in 2019 carefully stated that SBC would use CRT as an analytical tool and not an ideological replacement for Christian doctrine. Nevertheless, an intense backlash cascaded through the denomination. Six SBC seminary presidents and many prominent pastors opposed the move.
Why? Overlooking for the moment the long history of white supremacy in the denomination, we can see the sway of individualism.
These people oppose the idea that American culture is the product of white supremacy and racism and argue that personal feelings, hearts and minds, and individual responsibility should be relied on more—even to address racism.
They are against corporate sin, meaning the sin of the group or the institution. Instead, they argue that the problem of racism lies within individuals who hate, belittle, or devalue those of different races.
The bottom line is these people do not believe that racism is a problem in this country. For example, a national poll in 2020 found that only 33 percent of practicing Christians who were white agreed that America had a race problem, while 81% of Black Christians think so.