I was born in the 1950s when it was not illegal for black people in the south to vote—it was suicide. Pseudo-laws, tests, intimidation, hoods, ropes, and guns were the anti-democracy tactics of the day. Southern state officials could not legitimately ban black people from voting, so the strategy was to make it impossible; if your grandfather [clause] did not vote, naming of every judge in the state, literacy test, and counting the number of jelly beans in a jar. After the 1965 Voting Rights Act, southern states caught trying to surreptitiously make it hard for people of color to vote needed a new least obvious way of voter suppression. Later, this became the Lee Atwater southern strategy, and when that was exposed a new scare tactic was needed. Critical Race Theory is now being thrown into the cage so the baying conservative hyenas have fresh red meat.
Saying to conservatives and closeted bigots that Critical Race Theory is not designed to morally shame or instruct our children they are evil or racist is a useless exercise because only the fair-minded listen. The late Professor Derrick Bell founded Critical Race Theory to teach graduate law students how the embedding of laws based on race affects the judicial system. The Republican party’s recent home is in the recesses of the conservative minds and is the latest target for pushing fear. The dank, dark areas of the psyche that deny the truth for self-empowerment and avarice are at play here in the most insidious way. Dr. Bell and his associates partially based the theory on a sound principle of human nature outlined in The First Amendment Encyclopedia in an article written by Chris Demaske he writes:
‘“that any given culture constructs its own social reality in its own self-interest, and in the United States this means that minorities’ interests are subservient to the system’s self-interest; and that the current system, built by and for white elites, will tolerate and encourage racial progress for minorities only if this promotes the majority’s self-interest.’”
Therein lies the biggest rub for the white Americans on their high horse against CRT. The simple admission that they are in it for themselves. The mere fact that people of color especially the descendants of the enslaved have had to spend four hundred years negotiating equity rights is a self-indictment of America. For centuries, African descendants and Black Americans have been told by an oppressive government and their oppressors to just wait, we will get there. Even as a naïve black child in America, I never understood the concept of waiting to be told that you are a full human being by people who had a personal stake in denying my humanness. Slaves were thought to be animals, thereby their mistreatment was moral. Black voters were first thought to be more ignorant than their white sharecropping illiterate neighbors. Now conservatives say we are inherent cheaters and our votes must be looked upon as compromised.
When all else fails fear becomes the driving force that never fails to fuel America’s racist DNA. Keeping the status quo system of white supremacy—the excuse for the KKK, Willie Horton—electing George H.W. Bush, even Dr. King was called a communist, playing on the Cold War fears of the time. Conservative punditry is couching CRT as the precursor for black retaliation. Instilling the fear that it will make white children compliant and willing victims of vengeance by angry black children, teaching them that their shame and guilt makes them deserved casualties of the GOP latest culture war. These tactics will collapse under the weight of information.
Continue to Vote for Change.