Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Knowing The Truth Will Just Hurt Your Knuckles

So this contains a better explainer of CRT than I've seen so far.

Critical race theory is a discipline, analytical tool and approach that emerged in the 1970s and ‘80s. Scholars took up the ways racial inequity persisted even after “a whole set of landmark civil rights laws and anti-discrimination laws passed” during the civil right movement, Daniel HoSang, professor of ethnicity, race and migration and American studies at Yale University, said.

“These scholars and writers are asking, why is it that racial inequality endures and persists, even decades after these laws have passed?” HoSang said. “Why is racism still enduring? And how do we contribute to abolishing it?”

HoSang described critical race theory not as “content,” or a “set of beliefs,” but rather an approach that “encourage[s] us to move past the superficial explanations that are given about equality, and suffering, and to ask for new kinds of explanations.”

In the introduction of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, a seminal collection of the foundational essays of the movement edited by principal founders and scholars like Kimberlé Crenshaw and Neil Gotanda, the editors write that critical race theory is about transforming social structures to create freedom for all, and it’s grounded in an “ethical commitment to human liberation.”

I was talking to a friend of mine, someone I've known for 60 years (!), who just retired from ministry (!!).  When I mentioned that churches have a culture that is almost genetic (the last church I served was 150 years old, and the roots of its culture reached back to the beginnings of the congregation), he immediately knew what I was talking about, and he agreed.  I mention that because what Dr. HoSang is talking about there is what I understand as the "genetics of culture" of an institution; or, indeed, a nation.  To give you a more prosaic example, I've been reading Forget the Alamo!  It's a history both of the Texas battle for independence and how the myth of the Alamo has been so important to Texans for so long. 

In brief:  Texas was a problem for Mexico because Mexico didn't have a strong enough central government to control the largely unpopulated Mexican (then) state, and the few who did try to settle there were soon run off or killed by the Comanche (largely; and for good reasons of their own, as it turned out).  So Mexico needed enough people there the groups could fend off attacks from the natives, and basically settle the place.  The same interest the government in D.C. had as they urged people to "go West," mostly with land grants, etc. (the western portion of the U.S. was settled with the heavy involvement of the federal government, not in its absence or in spite of it, as man Westerners like to think).   The settlers in Texas wanted the money from cotton (which, at the time, was Google/Amazon/Microsoft/Apple, all rolled up together), and that meant slaves to tend the cotton fields.  It was the only viable economic model available at the time (but we are NOT a racist country!  We just needed cheap labor.  Or something.)  Now, Mexico, having thrown off the peonage system of Spain, thought slavery abhorrent (they were right!).  So for quite some time the weak government in Mexico (Mexico City is a long way from San Antonio, especially on horseback) couldn't control the settlers in Texas bringing in slaves as "indentured servants" (complete with contracts the slaves could never complete the terms of).  But slavery in all of Mexico was still illegal.

The slavery of blacks also fed the resentment of Mexicans, especially mestizos (the ones you think of as "Mexican."  Mostly they have Aztec/Inca/Native American blood in their ancestry.  It's as proud a one as any daughter of the Mayflower; or the Republic of Texas, for that matter.  But I digress....) by the Anglo settlers.  Racism against the Tejanos was all too easy, and frankly, until early in this century, they were written out of Texas history, and especially out of the battle for the Alamo (which was more of a slaughter than a battle, but again, I digress....).  The upshot is, Texas culture was formed and forged in racism.  In East Texas when I grew up it was mostly aimed at blacks; east Texas is mostly western Louisiana (of course we just erased Chicanos from Texas history and culture as blithely as anyone else).  In central and south, hell, most of the rest of Texas, it's just as brutally aimed at Tejanos/Chicanos/Latinos.  I'm not sure if they prefer any label at all.  But we know who to hate, or to call "dirty" or "lazy" or "dangerous."  Gov. Abbott says he's going to start arresting "illegal" immigrants for trespass and other misdemeanors.  Whether he can is one problem; but his cops won't be picking up me, or most of my friends and family, simple because we register as "white."  I know people from El Salvador, though; and I wonder if they'll have to show their citizenship papers.

It's a rotten system.

The proponents of CRT in that article point out it isn't about individuals, that in fact the theory is not aimed at chastizing anyone or blaming anyone.  It wants to examine how race has affected laws in our country, laws we think have no racial bias or basis at all, and show that they do.  If that is shown, it is to be a tool for correction, not a club for beating someone else into submission, not a position from which to claim moral or legal authority to wield power for retribution.  The aim is reconciliation, not revenge.

But then there's that splinter in your eye, which is but a reflection of the log in mine.

Think of it this way:  imagine you have a rod, a wooden dowel, between your fists.  Now, you are pressing as hard as you can on that dowel, trying to drive your fists together.  Along comes a slight external force on the dowel, enough to displace it.  What happens?  Your fists slame together, or course.  

The dowel is whatever lie you want to preserve.  You are pressing on it because you imagine it is the only way to preserve it.  Release the pressure, and you may lose it, and then what? Displace that lie by the external force that effectively redirects the energy of your two fists,  and you aren't immediately set free; your eyes don't open, the sun doesn't bathe you with warmth, butterflies don't gather about you.  All that energy makes your fists slam together.  Letting go of the lie hurts.

The log in your eye requires all the effort you can muster to ignore.  You don't see it because you work so hard to not see it.  You put an extraordinary amount of energy into not noticing it, and when you are forced to, the revelation that frees, at first hurts.  It's a self-inflicted wound, but still: it hurts.  You don't blame your fists for crashing together; first, you blame the external force that displaced the dowel.  You don't blame yourself for ignoring that log with all your might; you blame the person who makes you finally see it, finally do what you've worked so hard not to do.

The purpose of CRT is to make you see the log; see the log, and then remove the log.  But that's why people resent it so.

True, dat.

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