One of the defenses of Critical Race Theory is that it is just a “theory.” Hell, it says so in the title. It’s not only a college discipline, but a grad-school-level study of race and it’s impacts on American institutions like law and politics.
I think we are giving CRT an amount of gravitas it does not deserve. Based upon my observations, CRT is less of a theory and more of a method. It’s method is to see EVERYTHING primarily through the prism of race. Even things that have nothing to do with race, social interactions, etc. It develops not racial consciousness nor racial awareness. It develops racial *obsession.*
My Granddaddy had a saying. (He actually had a LOT of sayings…most of which would earn me a Facebook timeout.). He said if you looked hard enough for shit, you would find it…just about anywhere.
All this falls under the more family-friendly theory that “you see what you are looking for.” And if you train your brain to see race everywhere, you will find it. You will also find the racism you are looking for. It all has to do with your Reticular Activating System.
The RAS is a part of the brain that processes trust. The conscious part of the RAS takes in 40 bits of info per second…while the subconscious part takes in 40 MILLION bits of info per second. The RAS’ function is to filter for what is important to focus on. That is a critical role, since otherwise there would be too much information for your brain to focus on.
The most amazing thing about the RAS is that it can be reprogrammed to focus on certain things and to filter out certain things. Quite often that is achieved through repetition. If you are familiar with the “Tetris Effect” this will ring a bell. A group of students were tested by letting them play hours and hours of the popular game. Afterwards, the students reported that they began seeing Tetris blocks EVERYWHERE! When walking down the street they could “see” buildings being turned over to fit into the puzzle their brain had focused on for 48 hours. They had “re-trained their brain.”
It is not difficult to see how a constant focus on race can produce similar results, leading a person to see it in all things, no matter how innocuous. If you train your brain to see race as the main factor in everything, well then, race quickly becomes the main factor in everything. It is only natural that you then conclude that everything that has ever been done, is being done and ever WILL be done includes that same myopic focus on race. The thought that race is *not* a factor in something is simply not allowed in your world. In your world, the mere suggestion that we judge people on their character and not their skin color is DefCon Level 1 Blasphemy. MLK is truly dead.
Don’t get me wrong. The polar opposite of this would also be bad. Refusing to see race’s role in obvious things like prison sentences and the like is also a fool’s errand. That’s why when I tell people my goal is to be “color-blind,” I am quick to point out that this is not a literal thing. The goal is NOT to “not see color.” The goal is to make sure it does not play a central role in how I regard a person.
And yes, I will point out that the obsession with race that CRT attempts to engender is the same obsession with class that Marxists hope to promote. Honest to God if you replace “race” with “class,” then your standard CRT syllabus is nearly indistinguishable from Das Kapital.
I am not in favor of the spate of laws states are passing to prohibit CRT-based teaching. Those can be easily circumvented and (like all other laws) will most certainly have unsavory unintended consequences. This is a battle over the soul of public education. Will we utilize an approach that hyper-focuses on immutable characteristics? Or will we instead hyper-focus on the limitless opportunities each child brings to the table? Opportunities that will NOT be met if they are taught to view themselves and others primarily by their skin color.