SOME COMMENTS ON THE PANIC ENDUCED BY CRITICAL RACE THEORY
Updated: Jun 23
SOME COMMENTS ON THE PANIC ENDUCED BY CRITICAL RACE THEORY, BY RANDY NABORS.
As I read about several large denominations coming together for their annual meeting (one of which I am a part) I am hearing concern particularly about Critical Race Theory or CRT. I see headlines in the news that several states have forbidden the teaching of CRT in their public school system. Some of you may have no knowledge or information about this “theory,” while others of you may have heard certain things that alarm you. I want to give you some of my thoughts, but I don’t have time to give you a primer on the details of CRT. For those details you will have to do some of your own research (This ARTICLE may be a good start). My hope is that those of you who are at least somewhat aware of the subject will profit from my comments.
Surely this is an amazing moment in history, both school systems and denominations are aroused by a subject matter to the point where they wish to ban it. My home state of Tennessee, which held the famous Scopes Trial in Dayton over the subject of evolution, (which they hoped to ban), brings back the embarrassment of the state government trying to prevent people hearing something that politicians either don’t like, don’t believe, or don’t understand.
I have a hard time believing that all this activity is based on people actually knowing what CRT is about. I suspect it is more panic driven, politically inspired, and a camouflaged racial response to unpleasant truths.
I have spoken and written about, and against, CRT in various articles and forums. I also have to acknowledge some of its value. Why it engenders fear, hostility, and distaste comes about for several reasons. I want to enumerate some of the issues at play in the discussion about CRT.
CRT was developed by African American legal scholars to try to give a deeper acknowledgement to the history of racism in dealing with justice issues. In short, “color blind” justice did not seem adequate to repair injustices of the past based on racism.
CRT is built on a Marxist paradigm of power competition, in this case White Supremacy versus black people in the history of justice, human and property rights, and racial disparities in the United States.
Whatever the paradigm, the essential facts of history are the same for all of us. One of the problems with a Marxist analysis of history is its reductionism to either economics, or in this case, race. CRT is a powerful and appealing explanation of racial history in our country, but it suffers from the same essential weakness of Marxism, it is simplistic and reductionist.
Race doesn’t explain everything, but it does explain a lot more than we would like to admit. Racism is not the sole definition of America, nor does it explain all of our history, but it does explain a lot. This is one of the things that makes CRT so offensive to white people, especially conservatives, when they don’t seem to be able to escape that indictment. It is hard to hear that our country has not been perfect.
Racism exists, slavery happened, reconstruction was aborted due to systemic racism, systemic racism existed and explains much of present disparity. Jim Crow happened and extended the resistance of the south for another 100 years. Racism affects prosecutorial and sentencing decisions.
Many white people are unaware of how privileged they are and resent being told that it is something they profit from, even without realizing that they do. Racial or majority privilege has nothing to do with one’s personal or family circumstances but is a general trust and acceptance one gets from other majority ethnic members.
One of the practical problems I have had with CRT is how provocative it is, and how defensive it makes white people feel. It almost feels like a philosophy of “name calling” usually associated with the word “white;” white supremacy, white privilege, white fragility, etc. All of this implies and suggests “white guilt,” and this helps explain why the whole thing is so vigorously resisted.
When white people refuse to engage our racial past and reality, when they refuse to pursue repentance, repair, and reconciliation, they tend to operate out of fear and fail to live in truth . That resistance to truth continues to perpetuate racial alienation. One doesn’t escape guilt through denial, but through grace, repentance, and forgiveness. Once forgiven then guilt ends, but responsibility continues.
Christians don’t ever have to be afraid of truth, whether it be historic, moral, or theological. Christians don’t have to deny that systemic philosophies play a part in real life. As they resist a systemic paradigm of Marxist interpretations they admit to the power of such systemic thinking. CRT is not nearly as big a problem as actual racism continues to be.
Race has played a similar systemic role in many economic, justice, and political decisions in this country; to whom one would sell their house, to whom one would hire, to whom one would give a loan, to which school one would attend or allow others to attend, among which group one would plant a church.
The resistance to dealing with racial realities by conservatives gives more fuel to liberal progressives who have essentially dropped a desire for “racial reconciliation” as a pipe dream and replace it with anti-racism as the strategy to move the nation to a society of justice.
One cannot be a true reconciler without being anti-racist, but one can be anti-racist without being a reconciler.
Both reconciliation and justice are biblical concepts. They are both to be pursued because they are God’s will, or else we could not call them biblical. Neither of these, in themselves, are a communist agenda. Neither of these are a white agenda, nor a black one. They are God’s agenda arising from his character and attributes, weightier matters of the Law, accomplished at the cross, a mystery revealed in the New Testament though promised in the Old, made possible through forgiveness in the blood of Christ, a message and ministry given to the saints, to be demonstrated in the church, and sought as the unity prayed for by Jesus.
Though there is often resistance to an open dialogue about racism, with an almost witch-hunting and strawman defensiveness, plus the disparagement that comes from both sides of the political spectrum, God has still done mighty things among us in the PCA. It is not true that many of our African American members are leaving, though a few have. In fact we are gaining TE’s and growing in church planting efforts. Christians should never deny the optics of ethnicity or color, they are God’s gift to us. Nor should we be afraid to grapple with the results of sin in a sinful world, because Jesus has overcome it, praise his name!