The Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a perspective that is influencing the behavior of many employers today, including large corporations and universities. It has also infiltrated the federal government’s employment education. CRT kicked off the New York Times 1619 project that is now shaping curricula across the country.
As with any theoretical approach to politics, there are some differences between supporters of CRT, but CRT’s two best-selling proponents, Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi, agree on the basics. CRT begins by assuming that race is the primary way of identifying and analyzing people, and consequently assumes a racial hierarchy that supposedly exists with whites on top and blacks below. Individual behavior is insignificant because everyone in America functions in a society of systemic racism, structural racism, and institutional racism. CRT reaffirms this perspective by pointing out several existing racial differences which it claims are the result of racial discrimination. From this perspective, the efforts of public and private organizations to enforce civil rights laws in employment, housing, contracting, education, etc. are either inadequate or pointless.
CRT offers two answers to this situation. First, all whites must admit their guilt by confessing the advantages that white supremacy gives them. Otherwise, it is a reflection of “white fragility” – an instinctual defensiveness that whites are supposed to show after being trained about their investments in racism. Second, individual whites cannot hide behind a personal history of non-discrimination or the desirability of race-neutral laws or policies because the collective action of their race has been oppressive.
Whites must therefore support “anti-racist” policies that indefinitely require various forms of racial preferences for non-whites in a variety of areas. This is also necessary when whites are a local minority and power structures are controlled by non-whites or blacks, indigenous peoples and colored people – “BIPOCs” in current terminology.
On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, “Combating Racial and Gender Stereotypes,” which outlined and prohibited the use of CRT occupational training. A seminar at the Treasury Department argued that “virtually all whites, regardless of how” woken up “they are, contribute to racism,” and instructed staff to avoid “narratives” of America being “colorblind” or “letting the peoples” “Should” Skills and personalities are what set them apart. ” Training materials at Argonne National Laboratories found that racism “is woven into every fabric of American society and that concepts of” color blindness “and” meritocracy “have been labeled” biased acts “. At Sandia National Laboratories, non-minority male employees were told that the emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white men.”[s]And asked those present to recognize each other’s “privilege”.
The new executive order, which rules out such racial and gender stereotypes and scapegoats – whether or not it flies under the guise of CRT training – applies not only to federal agencies but also to federal entrepreneurs, and thus covers most large corporations and Universities.
The division of entire groups into the oppressor and the oppressed is a disgusting stereotype, not least because it glosses over the lived experiences of actual individuals.
There have been some setbacks from these institutions. The American Council on Education (ACE) and 50 other education associations said “We are resolutely against racial and gender stereotypes,” but did not claim that such practices were absent from orientation and training sessions at its sites. ACE argued that EO 13950 “has a terrifying effect on the good faith and legitimate efforts of campus officials to create and maintain non-discriminatory and non-hostile work and study environments”.
ACE further argued that the Order violated academic freedom, but there is no necessary conflict. EO 13950 states: “Nothing in this order should be interpreted in such a way that it is forbidden to discuss, in an objective matter and without approval, the concepts of division listed in section (2a) of this regulation in the context of a larger academic course.” is not entirely sure how the enforcement would work.
Free speech advocates need to be clear about when CRT can be expressed within institutions and when CRT becomes compulsive and violates civil rights law. It is not illegal for companies or universities to invite speakers to advocate CRT, although forums with different views would be preferable. For example, the Sacramento State Fall 2020 Convocation included an address by Ibram X. Kendi on “Promoting Our Commitment to Anti-Racism.”
Attending such events would be voluntary, but employee training is a different matter as it is usually compulsory. Absent or passive persons are recorded. When CRT becomes the basis for employee selection, training, or evaluation, it is a completely different legal issue. Asking a group of employees to confess the sins of their racial ancestors or their individual current white privilege is contrary to an employer’s responsibility to avoid creating a hostile work environment.
Hostile or toxic work environment laws are based on both Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines a hostile or toxic work environment as one that includes “undesirable behavior based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information”. Such behavior “may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, blurring, epithets or naming, physical assault or threats, intimidation, ridicule or derision, insults or defeat, offensive objects or images, and impairment of job performance.” CRT certainly can ” Blurring, epithets or names “as well as” ridicule or mockery, insults or defeats “.
The EEOC warns against making minor insults, harassment, or individual incidents illegal, but if a racial group is identified as privileged or fragile in official training or institutional statements, it is sure to create a work environment that is “intimidating, hostile or offensive to reasonable people” . It is impossible to have a discussion of race based on civil facts when the discussion focuses on stereotyping people based on race.
Some believe that EO 13950 is only symbolic or can be easily repealed by a new government. But even in this case, such a measure will not change the civil rights law or the longstanding judicial interpretation.
Regardless of the status of EO 13950, employers should avoid certain likely violations. Attitudes should not be influenced by stereotypes about what individuals identified by race, ethnicity or gender bring to an organization. For example, what do all Hispanics or all Asians have in common? For similar reasons, dividing employees into BIPOC or non-BIPOC groups for any purpose should always be avoided.
Organizational definitions of diversity should go well beyond race and gender and encompass the vast array of self-definition Americans have. Training should not blame contemporary Americans for events that occurred in previous decades or centuries. The division of entire groups into the oppressor and the oppressed is a disgusting stereotype, not least because it glosses over the lived experiences of actual individuals. In training, there should be a balance between discussing what we have achieved as a nation in terms of civil rights and the goals we have not achieved. Consideration should be given to what Americans have in common and where they differ. In particular, individual employees should not be criticized or rewarded for the actions of other members of a group.
Locations and companies across the country are tacitly re-evaluating their official statements and practices regarding race. EO 13950 should not create problems for diversity programs that validate the different characteristics of different cultures, but it could signal problems for the CRT’s divisive approach. Following these general rules will not only help administrators and institutions avoid sanctions, but it can also benefit staff efforts to reach consensus about actual organizational goals.