Critical Race Theory and the National Interest
James W. Pfister
Last week I touched on the historic 1619 project, the first coming of black slaves to what would become the United States of America. Many findings have flowed from this introduction, one being that approximately 13% of the population of the United States is black.
It has developed what is called Critical Race Theory (hereafter CRT). My goal here is to describe the CRT and discuss how it fits into the national interest as we collectively move into the future of complex international relations.
Through Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1950s and federal civil rights laws of the 1960s, as well as state civil rights laws, legal equality between the races was achieved. The CRT theory argues that legal equality and a “colorblind” society are not enough. The absence of “intention” to discriminate is not enough. “Researchers have argued that the focus on color blindness and intentional discrimination obscures a broader view of systemic racial inequalities in work, wealth, housing, health care, and other material distributions.” (Daria Roithmayr, syllabus, Critical Race Theory, University of Southern California).
So the law is not the problem; it is the socio-economic structure. We are in the field of social psychology in a theoretical conceptualization of ownership in the context of social interaction. CRT theorists see the whiteness of the white person as a form of “property”. They say, “But more pernicious and more enduring than the victimization of people of color is the construction of whiteness as the ultimate property.” (Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate IV, “Toward a Critical Theory of Race Education,” Teachers College, Columbia University, Fall 1995).
White standards in dress, speech patterns, academic honors programs and advanced placement courses, etc., are considered attributes of white culture conceptualized as a property, just as college credits are a personal property. Collectively, it’s called “white privilege,” I think.
For me, as a real estate lawyer and real estate agent, it is confusing to be so abstract and theoretical as to call this property. We all know what real and personal property is, and that’s not it. For me, it’s white culture as shared values and beliefs. These can be experienced by everyone in America with enough hard work and success, if there are success structures available. It should be an individual, not a group, thing. (Gutfeld, Fox, May 19, 2022).
It is here that real differences in real estate and personal ownership make real differences in education and, therefore, differences in real patterns of achievement. One of the most important Supreme Court opinions in recent history regarding the Equal Protection Clause was San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973), majority opinion of Judge Lewis F. Powell Jr. He held that public education did not deserve control “because under our Constitution, education was not a basic right. Thus, unequal educational districts may remain.
Black students (who already suffer from dysfunctional single-parent homes) have high rates of school disciplinary expulsions, dropout rates, and low scores on standardized tests. More equalized schools would, it would seem, be in the national interest by increasing achievement structures for low-income students of all races, reducing areas of crime, discovering talented students, and preparing students to more financially and personally rewarding careers. Education can create excitement in a career. Real and personal property can be part of the reward.
A thriving heterogeneous society fusing the best of all cultures, under the rule of law and democracy, is in the national interest as we move into an unknown future. In the upcoming competition, we must continue to be a society of hard work and success as individuals.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina recently wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post (May 17) about going from a family of a single black mother in poverty to becoming a United States Senator: “If we want to have tough conversations about what will improve outcomes for our nation’s poorest communities, I welcome those conversations because I believe America is the solution — not the problem. He said, “The American dream is one of hope and opportunity.” I believe that CRT is contrary to the national interest.
James W. Pfister, JD University of Toledo, Ph.D. University of Michigan (political science), retired after 46 years in the political science department at Eastern Michigan University. He lives in Devils Lake and can be reached at email@example.com.