You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Commentary: CRT, DEI are not what you’re being told they are

  • 3
  • 3 min to read

It can be frustrating to have someone misrepresent your position and then argue against it. To say I was frustrated to read the recent commentary piece purporting to be a “true or false quiz” about Critical Race Theory is an understatement. 

The co-author of the piece was the leader of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty. She does not send her children to public school, and she recently called our public-school teachers “brainwashing ---holes.” She is, to be frank, not qualified to represent my position on anything. 

So, allow me to represent my own position, as a Franklin resident and parent devoted to building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.  

I believe Critical Race Theory is a valuable tool for understanding society, not an intellectual boogeyman whose goal is “the problematizing and criticizing of American systems with the aim of dismantling them and imposing socialism/Marxism.” 

Sounds scary, right? That’s the author’s intent, of course. But it is a complete fabrication.  

What is Critical Race Theory? It’s an academic framework whose function is quite simple: To look at a given outcome and ask, “Is this outcome inequitable along racial lines? If so, why?” 

Let’s unpack that. 

First, it’s important to understand that this question is always applied to large groups, and never individuals. If it is applied without sufficient sample size, it is being misused. Should this white person and that Black person make the same income? I have no idea. There are too many variables at play on an individual basis. But should the white employees and Black employees of a large company have comparable median incomes? Yes, I believe they should. And if they don’t, we have sufficient data to investigate the causes of the difference. 

Those who accuse us of Marxism would have you believe that we advocate for equal outcomes at an individual level. I don’t know a single person who believes all individuals should have equal outcomes. That may have been the solution proposed by Karl Marx nearly 200 years ago, but it was a deeply flawed idea that has utterly failed time and time again. That is not in any way what we are talking about — don’t let anyone scare you into thinking the communists are coming for your kids.  

These accusations of Marxism usually point to the word “inequitable” (or any variation of the word equity) as a signal of our evil intent. But what does the word actually mean?  

Google “inequitable definition” for yourself. It means unfair or unjust.  

Any objection to someone asking questions to determine whether something is unjust should be troubling to us all. 

So, let’s ask. Are outcomes inequitable along racial lines in any of these areas? 

Household wealth — The median household wealth of white families in America is more than seven times that of Black families. 

Incarceration — Black Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white Americans. 

SAT scores — Black students’ average score is 177 points lower than white students. 

Home ownership — 73.3% among white Americans, vs. 42.1% among Black Americans. 

These are national examples, but the question can of course be asked of outcomes in a local community, at a company or for virtually any group of sufficient size for statistical validity. Organizations of all kinds are increasingly looking for racial gaps in outcomes like hiring, promotions, attrition, compensation, etc.  

This brings us to the crucial second part of the question above: Why? 

As with any root-cause analysis, you almost certainly need to persist through several layers of, “And why is that?” if you are to truly understand what is driving a given outcome. And there is almost never a single cause, but rather a series of interconnected causes. In each case, though, you will likely eventually be faced with a choice: 

Do I believe that Black people, on average, are experiencing worse outcomes than white people in this arena because they face one or more systemic barriers that white people don’t face? Or, do I believe they are experiencing worse outcomes because they are in some way inherently inferior? 

I, for one, am completely unwilling to concede the possibility of the latter. Are you? 

We ought to enthusiastically acknowledge and celebrate all the progress we have made in the 400-year history of our great nation to remove or reduce some of the barriers faced by Black Americans. Great Americans worked tirelessly and sacrificed greatly to see chattel slavery, school segregation and anti-misogyny laws come to an end. But we must also acknowledge that it was Americans who opposed each of these changes. More importantly, we must acknowledge that there is a great deal more change needed. And each of us must decide whether to work for or against that change.  

Will you acknowledge that there are persistent inequities in outcomes across racial lines?  

Will you acknowledge that these inequities exist because of persistent barriers in our society, and not because of some inherent inferiority? 

Will you acknowledge that progress is not inevitable, but the result of people willing to work for it?  

Will you lend your voice to the cause of justice for all?  

Or will you use your voice to shout down those who ask these questions? 

Each of us gets to make these choices every day.  

There are many parents and allies here in Williamson County working together to build a more inclusive and equitable future for our kids. They can be found in local organizations like One WillCo, Williamson Strong, Williamson Social Justice Alliance, and others. Come join us. We are all in this together.

(3) comments

davidmh

Jeff Stewart should have read Tori Keafer's article titled "State releases guidance on anti-CRT law" before he wrote his Commentary. The new Law never mentions CRT. Tori does a good job of describing the new Law and the Proposed Rule. The Law basically requires Schools to follow the teaching of Dr. King that everyone should be judged based on their Character and actions, and NOT by their color or race. The new Law prohibits teaching kids to be Racists or Racial Profilers. If Stewart had read Tori's article, he would know that the new Law prohibits teaching that any race is inherently inferior (he implies that is a problem in Will Co). In early 2021 a bi-racial couple reported that their 7 year old son was being taught that White people are evil racists who want to harm Black people. The new Law would prohibit that. The Liberals never mention that.

Stewart seems to imply that WCS suffers from "Systemic Racism". Not true and there isn't any proof. He implies that there isn't "justice for all" in Williamson County. Please give specific examples so we can address them. He implies that the new Law is intended to "shout down those who ask questions". Not true.

One example that is often used as "proof" that there is Racism in WCS is that the "N-word" is a problem. That is true. But the reason is because the liberal WC School Board (10 of the 12 Board members are Liberals) refuses to pass a rule banning students from saying the N-word. Why would they do that? Does the WCS Board want kids to say the N-word? Ask them. I've asked them 5 times and never gotten an answer.

3 more points >

1. He starts by attacking Robin Steenman. What if conservatives started attacking the Liberal leaders?

2. He repeats the Liberal talking point that the only people who should be allowed to comment about WCS are those whose kids are students in WCS. How about tax-payers? 76% of my County Property taxes go for WCS. Don't I have a voice? How about people wtih young kids who hope they can go to WCS?

3. Oddly, he says Steenman is trying to represent his position. That is clearly not true.

AlexanderCaesar

“I, for one, am completely unwilling to concede the possibility of the latter. Are you?”

Read Charles Murray’s work. If you are unable and unwilling to look at cold hard facts, why should any of us listen to your emotional crusade? Because you feel a certain way?

No thanks.

Klaatu13

Thank you Jeff Stewart. I was wounded by communists/marxists in combat while serving with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. I have no love for those people and don't appreciate being called a marxist by opponents of CRT. Teaching CRT is essential if we are ever to learn from our past mistakes, as a nation. I graduated from high school in Nashville in 1966. There were lots of black people living in Nashville at the time, but there was NEVER a black student in any of my classes in public school. When I was drafted in 1967 I was suddenly training with young black men from Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. I had to learn to deal with that situation because my parents and my school system failed to prepare me for life. I quickly learned that the terrible things I was told about Dr King when I was growing up were lies. Pro Tip: Dr King was NOT a marxist either. In combat we all bled red. There was no time for racial discrimination and hatred. It was a hard lesson which reflected poorly on my Dad.

Imagine being so ashamed of the words and actions of your ancestors that you make it illegal for the truth to be taught to your children. We don't need another generation of ostriches. We must teach and understand history with only one goal in mind. The truth. I understand that history can be complicated, but we can teach it to the best of our ability. I am sorry that Marsha Blackburn and others make up all sorts of emotional, tearful stories about how it will damage our children if we teach them the truth. I had to blindly find my way and I don't wish that on any child growing up in our today.

I love my country, but I will never understand it unless I know the truth...as painful as it may be. Teach the good with the bad and we can strive for "a more perfect union." The Founders of this nation knew it would change over time and designed our Constitution in a manner which allowed for improvement. Teaching that the USA was perfect when we won our independence on September 3, 1783 is a lie. The men who achieved that victory disagreed about where to go from that date forward. Just teach the truth and let the next generation lead from knowledge, not ignorance.

Larry Reid

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.