No, Republicans are not trying to ban “diversity training.”
Nevertheless, establishment media outlets seem convinced that that is the case. Or, at least, that is the message they wish to share with their readers.
Various outlets continue to promote this idea when responding to the current surge of state and federal bills aimed at banning the government promotion of critical race theory, a surge that has been quite extensive.
According to the CRT legislation tracker on notable CRT critic Christopher Rufo’s website, three federal bills abolishing “critical race theory indoctrination” are pending. Similar bills are pending in 12 different states — Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
In three states — Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma — such bills have already been signed into law.
The majority of these bills specifically ban the teaching of a series of “divisive concepts” such as race essentialism, racial scapegoating and the idea that the United States is fundamentally racist.
What is Critical Race Theory?
Created by a number of legal scholars (including, most notably, Kimberlé Crenshaw), critical race theory is a theory on “how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers” according to a Jan. 12 article from the American Bar Association.
CRT’s presupposed core principles, according to the American Bar Association, include the belief that racism is “systemic” and “a normal feature of society,” the rejection of traditional liberal definitions of equality (colorblindness, meritocracy, etc.) and the prioritization of the “lived experiences of people of color,” even if such opinions run counter to scientific consensus.
This system is a theoretical, interpretive process of criticism — meaning that, while CRT scholars and activists are tasked with exposing the existence of “systemic racism” within various social structures and institutions, they are not required to provide a traditional scientific standard of proof.
Instead, this analysis relies on subjective interpretation with the underlying assumption that CRT’s core principles are undeniably true.
This leads CRT proponents to conflate disparities in outcome between different groups with the existence of “systemic racism,” when those disparities can be attributed to a whole host of variables disconnected from racial bias, including differences between racial groups in culture, demographic makeup and so on.
Nowadays, this specific level of analysis can be seen whenever left-wing activists ascribe “racism” to objects, structures and systems that lack the necessary agency or bias to, in fact, exhibit racism. In recent months, progressives have levied accusations of “racism” at word fonts, Christmas lights, trees and mathematics, to name a few examples.
Misleading Media Coverage
In covering CRT and the current legislative push to abolish such training, establishment media outlets have repeatedly failed to provide an accurate representation of the above ideas.
One such way outlets fail to accurately represent CRT is by describing it merely as “diversity” training, when in fact, CRT programs are a very specific type of diversity training.
On Wednesday, James Lindsay — a leading expert on, and critic of, CRT — told The Western Journal via email that he finds coverage on CRT from outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN to be incredibly misleading.
In fact, such coverage has been “so misleading” that he’s often “led to wonder if they are claiming that conservatives don’t know what [critical race theory] is as a cover for themselves not knowing what it is.”
“Critical Race Theory is a very specific movement and way of thinking, and attempts to frame it as something like mere legal theory, racial sensitivity, or diversity scholarship are complete propaganda that hides the true nature of the theory so completely that it simply has to be done in severe ignorance or as deliberate propaganda,” Lindsay told The Western Journal.
In one such example, an April 23 column from The New York Times, addresses a critical race theory scandal that occurred at the Grace Church School in Lower Manhattan without ever using the term “critical race theory.” It is instead replaced by phrases such as “curriculums and training around race and racial sensitivity,” “racially progressive education” and, what is perhaps the most common media alternative, “diversity, equity and inclusion training.”
Another article from The Washington Post published on May 3 describes CRT trainings as “racial equity work” and “equity initiatives such as anti-bias training.” Another article from The Post defines CRT as a theory with “roots in the 1960s, which witnessed the end of openly segregationist politics on the national stage.”
This sort of coverage fails to fully grasp what critical race theory actually espouses, according to Linsday.
“Critical Race Theory offers one perspective among very many about how one might approach training that touches upon “diversity,” and, in fact, it provides perhaps the worst-possible one. Under Critical Race Theory, a person’s perspective ‘as a member of a racial group’ is only considered authentic if it has a ‘critical race consciousness.’ In other words, it’s only considered legitimate if it espouses Critical Race Theory!” Lindsay told The Western Journal.
“Thus, diversity is only achieved if the people hired for ‘diversity’ express that authentic view, because otherwise they’re reproducing the ‘dominant’ view (which CRT holds is ‘white supremacy’). So, ‘diversity’ in Critical Race Theory actually means having people who look different but all just repeat Critical Race Theory. That context is pretty damn important.”
Assuming the “Conspiracy Theory” of “Systemic Racism”
Many of the aforementioned articles presuppose the existence of “systemic racism,” an idea political scientist Wilfred Reilly claims is nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.”
In his view, claims that “systemic racism” must be the cause of all performance gaps between groups “are almost universally false.”
“If hard data shows that Asians, Jews, Nigerians, E. Indians, etc. out-earn whites — and it does — this at very least strongly indicates that potent hidden racism is not the primary problem for Black Americans today,” Reilly told The Western Journal in February.
Linsday concurs with Reilly’s assessment, noting “Critical Race Theory does this by design and assumption.”
“For Critical Race Theorists, ‘systemic racism’ (i.e., discrimination) is the explanation for any statistical disparity in outcome by groups that disfavors any racial group that isn’t white (this explains why white people coming in below Asians in many areas of attainment does not constitute systemic racism against whites but does get Asians labeled ‘white-adjacent’),” Linsday told The Western Journal.
Misleading coverage of CRT is often guilty of this logical fallacy.
For example, The Washington Post article from May 3 offers two examples of so-called “systemic barriers.”
- “[S]tudents of color are more likely to be disciplined than their White peers and receive harsher punishments for the same infractions.”
- “Black and Hispanic students are less likely to be placed in advanced or enriched classes.”
In both cases, differences in culture and decision-making can explain the gaps.
For example, one possible reason students of color “are more likely to be disciplined” is because they are more likely to be caught misbehaving. An annual report from The Justice and Education Departments titled “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” found that black students were twice as likely as white students to report having been in a physical fight on school property.
If a group of students are more than twice as likely to be caught fighting, it is safe to assume that group is much more likely to face disciplinary action.
As for the second point, a lack of black and Hispanic representation in accelerated learning programs is quite possibly due to the fact that fewer black and Hispanic students exhibit academic excellence. And that disparity in achievement could likely be due to the differing ethnic approaches to education. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests as much. It found that black and Hispanic students spent less hours and days per week doing homework than either Asian or white students.
Another more recent example of outlets promoting the systemic racism fallacy can be found in an article from Education Week published on Tuesday.
The article, titled “What Is Critical Race Theory,” claims the “same patterns of discrimination” found in red-lining — a practice that was banned during the civil rights movement — can be seen today with “single-family zoning that prevents the building of affordable housing in advantaged, majority-white neighborhoods and, thus, stymies racial desegregation.”
Zoning laws such as this prevent lower-income groups from finding housing they could afford in higher-income communities. Such policies don’t disproportionately affect minorities because they are “racist,” but rather because some racial groups (blacks, Hispanics) tend to be less economically advantaged than others (whites, Asians, Jews).
For all three of these examples, “systemic racism” was blindly attributed as the cause, when a deeper level of analysis reveals the underlying problems are likely much more complex.
This is the sort of faulty analysis that CRT promotes.
Until Republicans are successful in their push to abolish CRT, public schools across the country may very well continue to teach these ideas to American children.
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