Critical race theory isn’t racist

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Conservatives say that it’s racist and divisive, teaching white people to hate themselves. Liberals believe its criticism of systems of injustice is accurate and important.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been causing a stir in the past couple of years, polarizing those on either side of the political aisle. CRT is a legal theory, another lens through which we can analyze our society, originating in scholarly settings in the 1980s. Specifically, the idea is that America operates on systemic racism that is intrinsic to our justice system and works to the disadvantage of people of color.

To put it simply, systemic racism means that even if there were no racist politicians in office, our legal system has been set up in such a way that a lack of racist policymakers makes no difference. We would have the same outcomes, because how the system is built matters more than the people working within it.

Last semester, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit organization, visited Baylor to talk about CRT’s impact. His general points were that CRT is antithetical to equality and to the Christian faith. He and others like him believe that CRT is racist and teaches white people to feel guilty. Kirk said “​​skin color is the most immaterial part of you.”

I disagree.

While race is not something anyone should judge another person on, we do not live in a colorblind society. Skin color happens to actually impact people’s lives, with real material consequences. I don’t think anyone can legitimately argue that race-based violence and discrimination no longer exist, as race and ethnicity equated to 61.8% of hate crimes in 2020 in America, according to the Justice Department.

Acknowledging some of the awful things our ancestors did in this country does not mean that white people have to feel guilty, as if they themselves did those things, but it does mean that we should own up to our benefiting from systems of oppression. History doesn’t make us feel good. It makes us angry. At times, it makes us unbearably sad. But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away, even when we take it so far as to stop teaching history itself.

No matter how much we ignore it, these things happened, and racism is very much alive in America. Recognizing its impact and how we can do better is essential to efforts for equality. If we ever want to move forward, we have to look backward first.