On Nov. 15, Gov. Tate Reeves submitted his 2023 fiscal budget to the state legislature, outlining his priorities for the year and recommending how he would like to see tax revenues allocated. One of Reeves’s proposals is to spend $3 million to “eliminate critical race theory” by promoting a more patriotic educational curriculum. He went further and recommended that the legislature pass a law banning taxpayer dollars from being used to fund what he deems as “propaganda,” but what exactly is critical race theory, and is it really being taught in our Mississippi schools?
Reeves describes CRT as “a vicious lie: that this country is fundamentally racist and that your skin color makes you inherently racist.” He went further, calling it “destructive to young children” and “contrary to basic history.” In other words, no matter your life circumstances, white skin benefits from an inherent privilege, and darker skin is burdened with inherent oppression. In this worldview, hard work and skill are largely irrelevant because your ability to succeed on your own merit is already predetermined by your skin color. Robin DiAngelo, a critical race theorist, would agree with this sentiment, writing in her book, “White Fragility,” that “(w)hite identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.”
Reeves is right to want to spend money to combat CRT. He is also right to support it being banned in schools, but he should not only put his money where his mouth is. He should also call a legislative special session to stop CRT from being taught before it can do any further harm to pupils in our state. Each day an authority figure, such as a teacher, spouts CRT, oblivious students are more likely to believe it. This is not a free speech issue. It is an issue of whether teachers should be able to indoctrinate children with inaccurate information by teaching CRT in the classroom, whether it’s included in the curriculum or not. CRT essentially teaches that skin color determines innocence and guilt, that America and its institutions are fundamentally and irredeemably racist, and that equity, not equality, is the foundation for cleansing society of its racism.
Equity and equality sound similar, but the subtle difference in lettering hides a drastic and consequential difference in reality. Merriam Webster defines equality as “the quality or state of being equal” and equity as “fairness or justice in the way people are treated.” Equality is when people are given the same opportunities — or a “level playing field” — to achieve their goals. Equity is giving some people an unfair advantage to guarantee an equal outcome. Equality is running (and losing) a race against Usain Bolt. Equity is putting just enough extra weight on Bolt that you finish the race at the exact same time. When meritocracy is removed, both parties lose. The incentive to improve is lost, and both you and Bolt know the outcome, and neither will train to get faster. Critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi summarized this doctrine by writing in his book, “How to be an Antiracist,” “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” This is why Reeves is rightfully opposing CRT before it can take hold and cause damage.
I constantly see subscribers to CRT who claim unequal outcomes between people of different races immediately blame systemic racism and white supremacy, but they can almost never point to specific policies. Yes, America used to have systemically racist policies — including slavery, Jim Crow laws and redlining — all of which still have serious consequences today and should be thoroughly and accurately taught in school. However, CRT is not the answer. It teaches that a white kid is responsible for the faults of his light-skinned ancestors, while also saying that LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are all somehow inherently disadvantaged just because of their skin color. This idea is both false and dangerous, and it simply doesn’t reflect the reality of the country in which we live today. We should teach our kids about the tragic actions of prior generations so that they don’t repeat them, not that they are personally responsible for those actions and are destined to repeat them.
Having established what CRT is, how could something so radical be taught in the dark red state of Mississippi, and why would our governor waste his time talking about it? I can confirm that it is, in fact, taught in our state, and I have seen it personally. As the Mississippi Center for Public Policy points out in its report, “Combatting Critical Race Theory in Mississippi,” Ole Miss provides incoming freshmen an online course espousing “key concepts associated with critical race theory, introducing students to the idea of privilege, equity and oppressed versus oppressor narratives to explain unequal outcomes in society.” I took this course and was shocked that my school would be teaching blatantly leftist opinions as fact.
In addition to other falsities, the course, without evidence, discouraged people from calling the police or doctors in cases of an emergency because they are racist. It accused minorities that go against CRT of “internalized racism,” and also claimed that it is racist to oppose the organization Black Lives Matter, which is known for violence and aiming to dissolve the country of the “nuclear family structure.” It promoted a hallmark of CRT that skin color, not the content of your character, determines your victimhood and your ability to succeed.
I am a freshman, completing my first semester. I have only scratched the surface of the bias that is being taught in our publicly-funded institutions. CRT is real, taught and should be outlawed in classrooms. Reeves is clearly aware of the threat that CRT poses to our state, and he is wise to stand up against it. He just needs to go a step further to fight it on a legislative front as well as a monetary front. We should call it what it is — anti-white racism, which, ironically, cannot exist according to CRT proponents. Not sure if what you are hearing is CRT? Replace “white” with “black,” and ask yourself if it is racist. Most times, it is.
Cass Rutledge is a freshman majoring in public policy leadership from Madison.