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Opinion: Just because critical race theory makes certain white people uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

There’s a pointless debate raging in state legislatures, college campuses and newspaper opinion pages over “critical race theory.”

It’s not a conversation worth having.

Conservatives have turned the whole topic into a sideshow rather than stepping into a nuanced discussion over how we should best educate our children to make sure more people from more backgrounds can make sure America is competitive in an increasingly global economy.

“Critical race theory” isn’t that complicated, and it can help us reconcile the problems of the past and create more equality of opportunity for the future.

Here’s a Q&A to help you navigate beyond the noise.

The questions come from conservative talking points I’ve been hearing and reading. The answers are all from the perspective of a Black man who can’t believe how many aintellectual halfwits are allowed microphones in the public sphere.

QUESTION: What is critical race theory?

ANSWER: You tell me. I don’t use fancy, made up, academic words when I talk.

For me, this is about teaching compassion and making sure that people of all backgrounds understand how racism of the past connects to problems of the present, giving us a chance to correct things for the future.   

But, hell, what do I know? I’m just out here trying to not get pulled over or choked out, talking about “I can’t breathe.”

Q: I don’t understand.

A: That’s because as a white conservative, you don’t have to. Life is and always has been easier for white people in the U.S.

Native Americans got chased off their land and pressed onto reservations, and they’re still suffering economically from it.

Black people were enslaved, then subjected to oppressive laws and even lynched when they tried to make things better.

You can trace a lot of the race-based problems of today to the race-based policies and procedures of the past.

Q: I don’t get it. What does slavery have to do with the problems in Chicago?

A: White conservatives love to ask, “what about Chicago?”

Since I have time today, I’ll help you out. But how about you save this response and pass it around to all your buddies? Could save me some work later, assuming your friends can read.

Let’s say you were a young Black man in Mississippi in 1930 and you didn’t want to get beaten to death or set on fire or castrated at a public picnic because some white woman lied and said you looked her in the eye when you passed her on the street.

So you decided to go north and start looking for work, but then the labor unions wouldn’t let you in because they had bylaws that said you could only join if your grandfather was a member.

Well, since your grandfather was a slave, you didn’t have a shot of getting in and you would have to take whatever job you could get without the protection or safety afforded to white workers who had your same skills.

Or let’s assume you somehow got a good job and wanted to buy a home.

Well, there were systems in place to deny Black people home loans. If they did manage to get a loan and tried to move into a neighborhood with manicured lawns and milkmen and little boys toting a wagon load of newspapers, the white people often organized to terrorize.

And if that didn’t work, a lot of white families moved.

And because so many white people were afraid to live next to Black people, the property values fell.

Then greedy people in the mortgage industry made it worse by whispering to white homeowners that they should sell as quickly as possible before more Blacks moved in and home values fell even further.

Then those same greedy lenders falsely inflated home values before selling properties to Black buyers.

This sort of thing makes it hard to accumulate wealth, leading to a lot of the economic gaps between ethnic groups that exist today.

Chicago isn’t the only place this sort of thing happened.

Q: So the lenders were victimizing white people, too?

A: Yes. Obviously. Racism hurts everyone, but why are you talking about white people, right now?

Q: I don’t see what you mean.

A: And that’s the problem. You can’t even SEE the problem. I want you to make sure you’re sitting down for this next part: This isn’t about you, OK?

This is about people who have had a million more obstacles to clear just to get past the legal and systemic barriers in place based on the color of their skin.

That’s wrong. And we should fix it.

This coursework you all are calling “CRT” can help if we apply it the right way. It can help us teach history from a balanced and updated perspective.

Q: This is why I don’t like talking to you liberals. You’re always complaining about the past. You don’t think we’ve made ANY progress, do you?

A: That question makes me think less of you. No one is saying that. There’s been plenty of progress. There’s just a lot more to do.

Q: But you think we should feel guilty for so-called “white privilege.” I don’t even believe white privilege exists!

A: Your guilt has nothing to do with me. If the facts make you feel guilty, that’s your problem not mine.

And what we believe doesn’t always match reality.

For example, I don’t believe Donald Trump exists, but that hasn’t gone so well for me the last five years.

Q: I still don’t understand why I should have to pay for the sins of the past. After all, I never owned slaves.

A: I’ll borrow from Ibram X. Kendi here, he wrote a “critical race theory” children’s book, “Antiracist Baby.” He says antiracists “point at policies as the problem, not people. Some people get more, while others get less … because policies don’t always grant equal access.”

Q: I don’t like Kendi. I heard he wrote “How to Be an Anti-racist” to make white people feel bad. And anyway, I don’t even see race.

A: I never form opinions like that unless I read the work for myself, and for whatever it’s worth, the kids’ version says that we should “open (our) eyes to all skin colors … if you claim to be color-blind, you deny what’s right in front of you.”

It also says, “Celebrate all our differences.” Antiracists don’t “see certain groups as ‘better’ or ‘worse.’” Instead they “love a world that’s truly diverse.”

If you can’t see race, then you can’t see me or what I’ve had to overcome to get where I am.

Q: Well, since you think there’s no hope for white people …

A: Who said that? In fact, Kendi’s children’s book says the opposite. He wrote that antiracists “believe we shall overcome racism” and are “filled with the power to transcend.”

This attitude gives kids agency and a sense of responsibility — rather than promoting victimhood.

To me, that’s a beautiful thing to teach youngsters, regardless of their race. 

Now, if somebody would read this to the Republicans in the Arizona Legislature, I’d appreciate it.

Reach Moore at or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.

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