Critical Race Theory Has a Race Problem
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream,
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
This was not MLK’s only dream. He also dreamed of and worked toward societal, legal, and judicial reform that would wipe out the kind of racism which favored whites over blacks in many American States. (See his statements about Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama which surround the quote above) But these dreams are not contradictory. MLK believed that colorblindness was the foundation for true reform of the American nation. The only chance for people and society to embrace all people equally in all areas of life is if they do not see color. For that to happen, he believed, white people needed to come to a deeper understanding regarding their sense of superiority and reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. But I do not think MLK would agree with how far CRT has gone in their apparent pursuit of racial equality.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has a dream as well but it is much different than the dream of MLK. The dream of CRT is to divide people according to race - particularly, whites and everyone else - to see racism everywhere, and to offer no hope of ever NOT being racist. (At least if you are a white person) This is what the priesthood, the “elect,” of CRT seeks to put forth in what John McWhorter calls “a triple-Testament tome” of CRT “consisting of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, and Ibram Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist.”
Robin DiAngelo tells us that white people - ALL white people - are racist; even if you are not personally racist by the traditional definition. This is true even of herself. For example, she states, “I would never say the n-word, but I've still internalized that message. And it manifests every day of my life in a range of ways.” All white people are racist whether we know it or not or manifest it consciously or not.
Ibram Kendi tells us that white people can never be free from racism and that the best we can do is to become ‘antiracist.’ Kendi also tells us that the goal of our society should not be MLK’s goal of colorblindness but to defeat whiteness wherever it is found. (And according to CRT whiteness permeates everything.) Kendi commented in a lecture that “whiteness… poses an existential threat to humanity.” He writes elsewhere, “The most threatening racist movement is not the alt right’s unlikely drive for a White ethnostate but the regular American’s drive for a ‘race-neutral one.”
In other words, the solution to the problem of race is found in affirming more racial division. Kendi writes in How to Be an Antiracist,
The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.
A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. An antiracist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups.
Notice the wording he uses in the second sentence - “equity” - not equality. This is significant. What he means is NOT that all people should receive the same opportunities for success, broadly speaking, but that we analyze who is NOT as successful based on race and then give them more of what they might need in order that they can become successful. This problem wields itself in all sorts of ways which we see everyday. Job and education quotas being one of them - hiring or admitting people of certain colors, genders, etc in order to be, or at least look diverse, rather than for their actual character, previous education, ability, and fitness for the job or studies at hand.
This is a serious problem. It is a problem for many reasons. First, as one reviewer of Kendi’s book articulates, “it makes the inherent dignity and equality of all humans inseparable from something as contingent and variable as group statistical outcomes.” Second, it is an extremely narrow view of why some people achieve things and others do not. Race may be one factor that contributes to but it surely is not the only, or even major reason. Third, it is extremely problematic to equate equality of opportunity, true equality, with equality of outcomes. (see Jordan Peterson et. al.) Last, and more relevant to our discussion, it suggests that the solution to racism is more racism. As John McWhorter has pointed out, it is an affirmation that racism is necessary for people of color to possess in order to combat racism. He writes
All of the Enlightenment’s focus on individualism, all of modernism’s permission for people to be themselves rather than live bound to preset classifications, falls to pieces before this idea that to be anything but white requires obsession with the fact that you are not white, and diminished by their possibly not seeing you in your totality.
In fact Kendi shot himself in the foot recently by admitting this exact reality in a recent tweet. He wrote,
More than a third of White students lied about their race on college applications, and about half of these applicants lied about being Native American. More than three-fourths of these students who lied about their race were accepted.
In other words, Kendi himself recognizes that if a white student desires to increase his/her chances of getting accepted into a University and/or receive financial aid for their studies they are best off claiming to be anything other than white. Sounds like racism doesn’t it?
Far from discouraging every person from seeing every other person as one race or another, CRT actually encourages racial bias and judgment. Their fundamental problem, then, is a race problem. So what is the solution?
It is to embrace another dream - actually another reality - that is created by Christ and outlined by the Apostle Paul throughout the New Testament.
you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, ywhich is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:10-11
For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:10-13
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, jso it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:5-6
Why did Paul believe in this reality? Because he recognized that in Jesus Christ God has brought humanity back to its place of unity in which there is only one true race - the human race. CRT gets one thing right - race is not biological but a social construct. As we read in Genesis 1 and 2 God made humanity in his image. This means that all who follow Adam and Eve, and that’s all of us, share the image of God. Thus we are all united, we are all alike, we all possess anthropological unity. The human race is, simply put, a singular race unified by its image bearing. “This means,” Owen Strachan reminds us, “that we are not fundamentally disunited, but united by our common theistic formation.”
This is not to say that we are not also, as a human race, ethnically diverse. We are. And it is wonderful! Strachan once again,
To be human does not mean that you look like someone else in a cookie-cutter way. It does not mean that you speak the same language. It does not mean that you like the same things or share the same views. To be human means that you are a man or a woman made in God’s image. Humanity is not a narrow biblical reality, we see. Humanity stretches across geography, across affinity, across ethnicity, and across background. The human race is not the same such that we are robotic carbon copies of one another. No, we are one human race, our identity grounded in being made in God’s image, but beautifully diverse from this essential starting point.
Sadly, sin has messed up this “common theistic formation” pretty badly. (cf Romans 1-3) Racism based upon skin color and any biases based on biology are a result of this Fall. This is why Paul points us to Christ and his gospel as the solution. In the gospel we find this unity again, more perfectly than existed in the Garden. When people embrace the gospel and its transformative power we are brought together into the church by Christ and in the Holy Spirit’s unity find ourselves connected with others who often don’t look like us, talk like us, are educated as we are, work in the same jobs as we have, but since we all reflect the image of our Savior we are united anyway.
This happens in the church because it is reflective of God’s goal for all things. Revelation 5 reminds us that in the eternal state where we will worship God for all eternity we will be together with people of all tribes and languages and peoples and nations. And it will be thus on account of what God has done in Jesus Christ to save his diverse elect.
Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.
CRT denies us this reality by affirming the discrimination that Christ defeated on the cross. The gospel announces forgiveness, reconciliation, and freedom. In the gospel we have demonstrated for us true justice and love for others. In the church we see how all tribes, languages, peoples and nations can come together under the banner of Christ’s lordship to worship him and love others.
Soli Deo Gloria