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Parents, activists pushing back against critical race theory's 'destructive message' in America's school

critical race theory
People hold up signs during a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. |

‘We’re fighting Marxism’

Parents Defending Education is not the only group dedicated, at least in part, to opposing critical race theory.

Kevin McGary
Kevin McGary, the co-founder of Every Black Life Matters, is a staunch critic of critical race theory. |

Kevin McGary, the father of two children, co-founded Every Black Life Matters approximately nine months ago. The group is a response to the “race hatred” and “violence” that resulted from the video of African American George Floyd’s “atrocious” and “heinous” death in police custody.

His organization aims to counter the Black Lives Matter movement, which he referred to as “radical revolutionary Marxists” in an interview with The Christian Post.

“We are founded based on fundamentals that say the nuclear family is important, that protecting black life from conception to the grave is important, that helping encourage black life from early childhood development in education is important," he asserted. "We believe that having an active father as a part of children’s life is important."

Acknowledging that “we’re sort of leveraging the momentum of Black Lives Matter,” McGary held up his organization as “the exact opposite of BLM” and the “antithesis” to the left-wing advocacy group. 

Every Black Life Matters includes a “template library of … letters that are already pre-written for school boards, city council, other … people that are running for political office or are holding political office.” McGary told CP that all concerned parents have to do is “put their names on it and send it to those people.”

While much of the focus in the effort to push back against critical theory has focused on public schools, the ideology has infiltrated religious schools as well.

As The Christian Post previously reported, Loyola Academy, a Catholic school based in a suburb of Chicago, faced backlash from several parents after employing “diversity consultants” and conducting Zoom meetings where teachers included their gender pronouns. 

Noelle Mering, a fellow with the Washington-based think tank Ethics & Public Policy Center, wrote an op-ed arguing that critical theory is incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church. She discussed parents’ concerns about Loyola.

“Students were racially segregated for school assignments on privilege," she wrote. "A working-class student was bewildered to learn that because of his skin color, he is an oppressor to his peers, some of whom live in multi-million dollar homes.”

The Grace Church School, a private Episcopal school in Manhattan, came under fire from both teachers and parents for integrating a “repressive ideology” into its curriculum.

Paul Rossi, a former teacher at the school, wrote an op-ed accusing the Grace Church School of pressuring students to “identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed” and assigning “the morally compromised status of ‘oppressor’” to one group of students “based on their immutable characteristics” as “dependency, resentment, and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered ‘oppressed.’” 

McGary attributed the presence of critical theory and “woke” ideology in religious schools to the fact that “they are using critical race theory within our seminaries."

"And so, we have woke theologians now that are coming out and spreading a false Gospel," he said.  

Echoing Rufo’s analysis, McGary sees the implementation of critical theory and “woke” ideology in both public and religious schools as part of a larger effort to advance Marxist ideology in the U.S.

“Marxism is really what we’re fighting against on all fronts at the moment," he said. "It’s not necessarily these individual elements — CRT, liberation theology … social justice. Fundamentally, at their core, they’re all based in … Marxism. And so, we’re fighting Marxism.”

“What we need to help people understand is that Marxism has led to more human atrocities, more human deaths, more economic damage and collapse than any other system in world history,” he continued.

Lambasting Marxism for causing over 100 million deaths and “all economic collapse,” McGary emphasized that “there is no actual great, perfect track record with Marxism.”

While he admitted that “capitalism is not perfect either,” he praised the economic system as “better than Marxism” by “any viable metric.” 

McGary maintained that schools "should teach the good and bad of history."

"If indeed we do have … Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, a lot of other founders and/or presidents who were slave owners … that’s fine," he said.

“We should know the good and bad of … our patriots and heroes and our founders.”

He criticized the move to “expunge history and say that these guys were strictly bad guys,” pointing to some curriculum, “saying that George Washington was a plantation owner … and a slave owner." He feels "they focus on that and really exclude the fact that he was an American Revolutionary War hero, that he was the first president.”

McGary opined that rather than teaching “accurate history,” critical race theory proponents instead seek to present a “revisionist history.” 

‘A more patriotic curriculum’

In May, Ryan Girdusky, a conservative writer and political commentator, founded the 1776 Project PAC, a political action committee supporting school board candidates who explicitly oppose critical race theory.

Speaking to The Christian Post, he emphasized the importance of school boards. He stressed his organization’s mission to “get school board people in there who can actually start reversing it" by changing the superintendents and textbooks as well as pushing "for a more patriotic curriculum."

He wants school boards to "start negotiating and countering these principals and these teachers who are pushing this policy.”

"There are many institutions working on creating an alternative curriculum in history,” Girdusky said, including Hillsdale College.

“There’s many institutions on the right that are looking to … get involved … with the program of changing curriculum. So hopefully, we can have a meeting of the minds and find the best options that we can put in front of school board members and say, ‘Can you consider this?’” 

Girdusky clarified that his organization was not recruiting candidates but rather “supporting candidates who are opposed to critical race theory and the 1619 Project.” He elaborated on the role of school boards, which he characterized as  “the only check really for the public school systems that voters have.”

“They can hire superintendents, negotiate with the schools. They can try to hold teachers and principals more accountable within the school system," he added. "They can pick out which textbooks are … acceptable, and they purchase textbooks in many cases. They can pick out which outside reading material is acceptable."  

Girdusky acknowledged that “conservatives have been trying [for decades] to get children out of the public school into either private school … or charter schools." However, he maintained that it is still essential to focus on fixing the public schools because "a majority of children will always go to public schools.” 

Girdusky, who comes from “a very large family” with “a lot of younger cousins,” was motivated to start the 1776 Project PAC after discovering that as “many of [his cousins] were in school at home … on Google classroom” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Teachers were incorporating things inside their classrooms that were pretty horrendous and pretty shocking," the activist claimed. For example, “children as young as 8, 9 years old were being taught things … about racial profiling from police. And one of the teachers basically … said that … police are all racist.”

“What’s happening at the schools and inside classrooms that I find horrendously shocking is … teachers telling … children that there’s implicit bias against them if they’re non-white or that white students have … implicit bias against … non-white people, and that the institutions that really … created this country and … keep our civilization are … inherently created to work against them.” 

Consequences for society as a whole

Neily told CP that she worries that "we are encouraging people to hate each other, to doubt each other, to make judgments about each other based on immutable characteristics.”

She slammed critical race theory’s “destructive message." Girdusky agreed, calling critical theory a “cancer that society is pushing.”

“It’s telling non-white children that they are handicapped in the society that they are raised in on purpose to hurt them. And it says that everyone from our Founding Fathers to entrepreneurs to … the heads of major companies today to their local government and their police force is implicitly working to … keep them down,” he explained. “It’s telling white children, some of which … are extremely young and have no understanding of race or the history of race in our country … that they are racist, that they are born racist … and that’s a terrible lesson to learn.”

Girdusky contends that this ideology will have “detrimental” consequences for the health of American society:

“In a nation that is ... multiracial now and increasingly more diverse, it breeds [an] immense amount of social distrust.”

McGary said that the widespread promotion of critical race theory extends far beyond the classroom.

“The net impact is people are viewing … each other with a certain amount of distrust. African Americans have adopted critical race theory to such a degree that a lot of them are viewing white people with complete disdain just because they’re white, and … they’re viewing Asians with disdain,” he stated.

“There’s been a lot of Asian hate, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of coverage as to what is the predominant … ethnicity of the person carrying out those hate crimes and that’s because it’s an inconvenient truth that … blacks are viewing Asians as white-passing and they’ve internalized racist white supremacy. And so, they’re going after Asians with the same vigor that they have towards whites.”

McGary stated that the American public as a whole is "oversensitized to race." 

“Every conversation, every civic discussion … 10, 12 years ago, we didn’t go around labeling people based on their skin color, whether you’re an oppressed, oppressor, whether you’re privileged or … supremacist … or racist or whatever. Twelve years ago, that didn’t exist.”

He warned that in "every real and every domain," people are making "snap assessments about people based on the color of their skin and not the content of character.”

McGary connected the adoption of critical theory and “woke” ideology to the rising crime rates across the country. He predicted that “we’re going to see a lot more racial hatred and a lot more crimes based on race as opposed to any other factor." He believes the "if people don’t get a handle on this stuff, we could actually see a certain amount of mass civil unrest in certain cities between races.”

All three agreed that critical theory runs contrary to the teachings of the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. Girdusky is concerned that “too many people confuse critical race theory with Martin Luther King Jr.’s conception of having a colorblind America and equality when, in fact, it is using race as the cornerstone of every inequality and inequity in society.”

“What happened to Martin Luther King? What happened to the … content of our character and not the color of our skin?” Neily asked.

McGary lamented that the country is “moving away from ... the encouragement and admonition that Dr. Martin Luther King gave us."

“We’re sort of moving away from that. We’re moving towards strictly analyzing people based upon the color of their skin," McGary said. 

Victories in the battle against CRT

Neily told CP that in the short time since Parents Defending Education was established, there had been “victories that have happened in different places.” She pointed to the town of Southlake, Texas, outside Dallas, where “they just cleared house with their school board” in an “anti-CRT wave that was swept in.”

She also praised the school district in the Chicago suburb of New Trier, Illinois, for adopting a K-12 version of the “Chicago statement” from the University of Chicago expressing support for “free speech and free expression.”

Another example of success against critical race theory is Palm Beach County, Florida. As The Palm Beach Post reported, following backlash from parents, the school board voted to retract a portion of an “equity statement” highlighting its commitment to “dismantling structures rooted in white advantage.” 

It’s not just groups like Parents Defending Education, the 1776 Project PAC and Every Black Life Matters working to combat critical race theory and “woke” ideology in education. Several states have already banned the teaching of critical race theory or “divisive concepts” in their public schools, and others are in the process of doing so. 

According to Education Week, 26 states have introduced bills or taken other steps to restrict the teaching of critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, while 11 states have enacted those bans as of July 15. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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