Critical Race Theory Under Attack

There is an article entitled What is Critical Race Theory and Why Are People So Upset About It? (https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/what-is-critical-race-theory-and-why-are-people-so-upset-about-it) (Camera, 2021). The article is written by Lauren Camera and it appears in the June 1st, 2021 edition of U.S News. The article primarily focuses on the controversial subject of Critical Race Theory and the opposition it is facing from White people on both local and national levels.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is defined in the article as being used by scholars to “ to describe how racism is embedded in all aspects of American life, from health care to housing, economics to education, clean water to the criminal justice system and more. (Camera, 2021)” The article makes the point that contrary to what many White people believe, racism is not necessarily “obvious and deliberately insidious”. The article explains that even though Critical Race Theory began primarily as an academic endeavor in the 1980s, it gained National notoriety with the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning 1619 Project, orchestrated by Nicole Hannah-Jones. The 1619 Project is a series of articles that details American History in the context of slavery and the generational impact that institution has had on the nation in the succeeding years.

According to the article, opposition to CRT has manifested itself in many ways. Among them are: Former President Trump’s establishment of the 1776 commission (a direct challenge to the narrative presented by the 1619 Project, political conservatives’ assertions that CRT undercuts American patriotism and is divisive, and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s accusation that CRT is “spoon feeding a slanted story.” Opposition to CRT has also become a likely campaign rallying cry for republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.

In reading this article, it became clear to me that two sociological concepts applies to the situation detailed here. These two aspects operate on both the micro and macro levels of interactions. The first involves the idea of Identity and the second involves the concept of Attribution.

Inspired by George Herbert Mead’s Synthesis formation of Mind and of Identity, author Jonathan H Turner describes a hierarchy of four basic identities that people operate with. At the top is the Core-Identity, followed by the Social-Identity, the Group-Identity, and finally the ROLE-Identity (Turner, 2014). In this situation, I believe that people’s social identity (membership in socially salient categories) (Turner, 2014, p. 101) feel threatened and under attack. Someone that identifies as White, male, hardworking and patriotic may have feelings of anger or shame if it is publicly promoted that they are inherently racists and that their accomplishments came at the expense of others bloodshed and degradation. One defense mechanism that can be employed to counter those feeling is to attribute the genesis of them to distal institutions. In this case the Distal Bias (Turner, 2014, p. 113), would be against the federal government as headed by President Joe Biden. President Biden’s movements of social issues (with racial reconciliation being among them), coupled with the fact that his Vice-President, Kamala Harris, is a Black Woman may present a threat to some White people’s social identity resulting in them blaming the liberals and big government as being responsible.

Somehow we as a people have got to find a way to come to a common understanding of what is true and factual. This idealized version of American history isn’t just some benign choice. Ignoring the real, damaging and lasting legacy of slavery and all the social ills resulting from it does a disservice to the countless individuals that fought, bled, and died for the stated ideals of the nation’s founding. Critical Race Theory is not some attempt at indoctrinating White children into believing that they are evil. Critical Race Theory teaches the ENTIRE landscape of American history, not just the parts we find palatable. It’s high time we fight for truth and justice just as hard as the misguided right wing is fighting for lies and deceptions.

References

Camera, L. (2021, June 1). usnews.com. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/what-is-critcal-race-theory-and -why-are-people-so-upset-about-it

Turner, J. H. (2014). Theoretical Sociology. Thousand Oaks , California: SAGE.

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