As the right-wing furor over the entirely contrived culture war issue of “critical race theory” continues to grow, the hood is beginning to slip and the ugly reality of what they are really concerned about emerges as they inevitably tell on themselves.
The white supremacist response to our national discussion on race and the drive to acknowledge the uncomfortable truths of America’s cruel past has been to accuse our teachers of indoctrinating our children in “critical race theory,” teaching them that loving America is bad, that they should be ashamed for being white, and that America is an evil nation.
Of course, this is not actually happening. “Critical race theory” is an intellectual framework for looking at racism — like the concept that racism is systemic and not just the ideas of a few bad apples — that is primarily taught in law school. There is no widespread effort to promote critical race theory in schools; instead, the term has been hijacked by Republicans to mean “anything that teaches kids to not be racist” or “anything that would criticize the state of race relations in America today.”
Now it is being used as an excuse to get rid of teachers — and we can only assume it’s because racist white parents don’t like their kids being taught by a black person.
A month after an angry parent baselessly accused Colleyville Heritage High School Principal James Whitfield of teaching “critical race theory” at his school, the school district suspended him without warning or explanation.
“I was not given any clear reasoning behind the decision and was not given a timetable regarding further steps…I was simply told that it was in the best interest of the district,” said Whitfield in a Facebook post. “I can no longer maintain my silence in the face of this hate, intolerance, racism, and bigotry. I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman. I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be.”
Whitfield is the first Black principal at this high school. In case there was any doubt as to whether or not this case was motivated entirely by disgusting racism, the Washington Post reports that a few days after he was first appointed principal in 2019, “a parent complained to the district about a photo Whitfield had posted on social media that showed him and his wife, who is White, in an embrace, celebrating their wedding anniversary. ‘Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want as an example for our students?’ the parent asked in an email that Whitfield recounted on Facebook. The district asked Whitfield to remove the photo to avoid further controversy.”
Reading those words, you’d be forgiven for thinking this story came from 1950 and not 2021 — but stories like this make it clear that our nation hasn’t grown past its racist history but instead merely swept it under the rug. The psychotic anti-“CRT” movement is in direct response to Black Americans’ efforts to pull back the rug and hold White America accountable for centuries of oppression, disenfranchisement, and violence, and incidents like this show us exactly why we need to force ourselves to come to terms with the past, because whatever we’re doing now isn’t working.
Read Principal Whitfield’s defiant message to his critics here:
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.