The principal anti-critical race theory bill that has spent the year making its way through the Mississippi State Legislature, “Critical Race Theory; prohibit” is now law. Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill on March 14.
To accompany the bill’s passage into law Reeves shared a video message to his social media platforms.
“Students are being fed an unhealthy dose of progressive fundamentalism that runs counter to the principles of America’s founding,” he said. “Children are being dragged to the front of the classroom and are coerced to declare themselves as oppressors. Taught that they should feel guilty because of the color of their skin or that they are inherently a victim because of their race.”
This law is one of many being enacted across the country to combat the presence of what Republicans believe to be critical race theory in schools — even in states like Mississippi where education officials have confirmed critical race theory is not being taught to children.
“I know you’ll agree with me when I say that there is no room for this type of indoctrination in our state,” Reeves said. “That’s why today, Mississippi is taking another step toward ensuring our kids receive the unbiased and impartial education they need to reach their full potential as individuals, not as liberal operatives.”
Authored by 21 Republican senators, the term “critical race theory” is not mentioned nor defined in the law’s text. The law threatens to withhold of state funds for public institutions of learning that affirm, adopt or adhere to the following tenets:
(a) That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior; or
(b) That individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
In both the Mississippi House and Senate, not a single Black lawmaker voted for the bill to move forward. In January, every Black senator walked out in protest as their white colleagues passed the bill.
The definition of critical race theory agreed upon by academics is that it is a way of examining and understanding the intersections of race and law in America. There is only one critical race theory class taught in the entire state of Mississippi. It is UM Law School course Law 743: Critical Race Theory.
The course is taught by Yvette Butler, an assistant professor of law at the University of Mississippi. Butler spoke with The Daily Mississippian in February after the bill passed the senate.
“Critical race theory rejects any sort of inherent differences between races because it was often founded in pseudoscience that was just like, black people are inferior,” she said, “so why would critical race theorists buy into any sort of inherent differences? That wouldn’t make sense.”
Currently, it is unclear what the fate of the course will be now that the bill has become law. When presenting the bill to the House, Rep. Joey Hood said whether or not the class would have to be canceled if the bill became law was “up to Ole Miss,” according to reporting from Mississippi Today.
“The Board of Trustees will work with the Institutional Executive Officers to determine what, if any, course changes will be needed to comply with the law,” said Caron Blanton, spokesperson for the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees.
The board offered no comment on the content and impact of the new law.