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The Noise over "Critical Race Theory": The Back-History, Part One

By Dr. Josef Ben Levi

Presented by Omni-Virtual University


"The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." Ancestor Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois

"Critical Race Theory" is a concept that seeks to address inequality and racism in the United States. It has been around for decades. The term has become politicized and is being attacked, by its critics, as a Marxist ideology that is a threat to the "American way of life''. Critical Race Theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish. According to Kimberle Crenshaw, founding Critical Race Theorist and Law Professor who teaches at UCLA and Columbia University: "It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it." Lately, there has been a lot of commotion over the concern with Critical Race Theory. This provokes such questions as: Why has this area of study become such a hot topic today? Why is there so much push-back against a theoretical framework for discourse on race that has been around for about 40 years? Why are concerned citizens- some Black, but mostly white- so worried about its impact on the education of their children? What makes them think that "CRT" has been or will be taught in elementary and secondary schools? How is it being viewed as a form of indoctrination by willfully uninformed adults today? The problem with the critics of Critical Race Theory is that the attackers are afraid of the critique. Yes, CRT does look at the way systemic racism has permeated every aspect of United States history and every institution that she maintains. CRT forces the country to take that uncomfortable look in the mirror and see its reflection looking back at it. It forces the false and happy stories -that have been taught since elementary school- to be exposed for what they have always been: lies, damn lies, and innuendos. That is what whites in this country are afraid of. Not only will their children be exposed to the TRUTH, but they will be, also.

Many are afraid to know that Africans were in this country as “free men” long before the Mayflower -before 1619- starting in 1526 in Spanish colonial Florida. [1] They don't want to be reminded that, in the making of America, the "slave"-holding, class which included many of the Founding Fathers, participated in "crimes against humanity that would disgrace a nation of savages".[2] They don’t want to learn that Abraham Lincoln did not free any enslaved African people.[3] A full reading to the so-called "Emancipation Proclamation" from the beginning would make it clear that he was not the “Great Emancipator” but, a racist and white supremacist only interested in uniting the country in the interest of white “men” as his speech in Charleston, Illinois on September 18. 1858 clearly demonstrates: "I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in my way the social and political equality of the white and black races ...: that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people...and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."[4] They want to continue to conceal these facts and more such as the fact that: "The Louisiana Purchase", which Thomas Jefferson made, was only possible because France and Napoleon were defeated by Africans in Haiti; [5] Those Africans were not only the first to abolish slavery in the Western hemisphere, they also became the second independent nation in the Western hemisphere and the first independent Black nation in the Western hemisphere. It was for those reasons that Thomas Jefferson was able to negotiate a favorable deal with France-since France was virtually broke- to acquire the" Louisiana Territories". But, we are never taught the "back-history". That and other vital information was suppressed because the elite powers in the colonies did not want the rest of the enslaved Africans, in what had now become America, to repeat what the Haitians had done- liberate themselves from the oppression of the French. They did not want the "slaves" to know that it was possible to defeat those Europeans, now Americans, who were oppressing them in the "slave states" just as the Haitians had done. Thus, those facts have been withheld -to this day- from elementary and secondary students, both Black and White. The fear is so great that there are legislative movements all over the United States to remove the teaching of African and African American History from the school system at every level from primary to higher education. This is a sad but true commentary on the nature of the system of education in the United States. Critical Race Theory merely exposes those fallacies.


To be continued in part two.


BlogNotes


[1] Ancestor Lerone Bennett, Jr. Before the Mayflower.

[2] Ancestor Frederick Douglass. "What, to the American Slave, Is Your Fourth of July?" ( Speech delivered on July 5, 1852)

[3] Cheatwood, Kiarri T.H. To Save the Blood of Black Babies.

[4] Cheatwood, Kiarri T.-H., editor. The Race: Matters Concerning Pan African History, Culture, and Genocide. Jacobs, P.& Landau, S. & Pell, E.. To Serve the Devil: Volume 1: Natives and Slaves.

[5] Girard, P.R.The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian War of Independence.


References/ Recommended Readings:


The official bookstore of Omni Virtual University is afriwarebooks.com. When you click on titles that are linked below and make your book purchases, a portion of the proceeds from those sales go to support our work.


Bennett, L., Jr. (2000). Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s white dream. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company.

  • Bell, Derrick. Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protestor, in the Derrick Bell Reader (Critical America, 75).

  • Bennett, L., Jr...Before the Mayflower.

  • Carruthers, J.H. (1985). The Irritated Genie: An Essay on the Haitian Revolution. Chicago: The Kemetic Institute.


Crenshaw, K., Et al. (ed.) (1995). Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement. New York: The New Press.


Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press.


Dixon, A.D. & Rousseau, C.K. (ed.) (2006). Critical Race Theory in Education: All God’s Children Got a Song. New York: Routledge.


Jacobs, P. & Landau, S. & Pell, E. (1971). To Serve the Devil: Volume 1: Natives and slaves. New York: Vintage Books.


Jones, S. (2021). How to Manufacture a Moral Panic: Christopher Rufo helped incite an uproar over racism in education with dramatic, dodgy reporting. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/christopher-rufo-and-the-critical-race-theory-moral-panic.html.


Karimi, F. (2021). What Critical Race Theory Is -- and Isn’t? CNN.Com, May 10, 2021,


Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). What is Critical Race Theory and What’s It Doing in a Nice Field Like Education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1): 7-24, January 1998.


https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/


https://www.dukeupress.edu/intersectionality-as-critical-social-theory


  • Du Bois, W.E.B. The Problem of the Color Line at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: The Essential Early Essays.

  • Crenshaw, Kimberele. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity, Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.

  • Bell, Derrick.Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform.

  • Bell, Derrick. Faces at the Bottom of the Well.

  • Delgado, Richard & Jean Stefanic, editors.The Derrick Bell Reader (Critical America,75).

  • Matsuda, Mari J. Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations.


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