Here's What CRT (Critical Race Theory) CENSORS: The Anti-Working Class PURPOSE of the Systemic Racial Discrimination it Describes
The URL of this article is https://www.pdrboston.org/what-crt-censors ; please share it widely
August 25, 2021
[Also please see "The 1619 Project: A Double-Edged Sword"]
Critical Race Theory describes the centuries of systemic racial discrimination against non-whites in the American colonies and subsequent United States. But it CENSORS from this history any mention of the PURPOSE--the anti-working class purpose--of this racial discrimination.*** CRT censors the parts of our history that shed light on this purpose. This censored history--it is presented below--shows that systemic racial discrimination was begun by the late 17th and early 18th century upper class in the North American British colonies to destroy the working class solidarity among all races of laborers that existed then and that scared the living daylights out of the upper class. The new (it was totally unprecedented) systemic racial discrimination was designed to harm, not benefit, the laborers of European descent (who would come to be called "white").
Specifically, the new racial discrimination against the entire race of people of African descent was designed to destroy the solidarity that had existed between laborers of European descent and laborers of African descent by creating fear and resentment between them and, by forcing the the latter to live in a dehumanized and humiliating condition, to make the former have contempt for them. This KEY truth is absent (deliberately so) from the CRT curriculums. CRT's "The 1619 Project" devotes one single sentence (out of more than 80 pages of dense print) to the fact that slavery happened to drive down white wages, but presents this fact as if it were an unintended consequence; there is no mention of the fact that it was the deliberate purpose of chattel slavery to destroy the solidarity of the slave and non-slave laborers so that the upper class could oppress them both.
There is no mention of the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1965 Selma, Alabama speech (read it and listen to it here), explicitly explained this purpose of Jim Crow: to enable the upper class in the South to oppress both blacks and poor whites.
The "1619 Project" mentions Frederick Douglass twice, but never even hints that he said this in his My Bondage and My Freedom:
"The slaveholders, with a craftiness peculiar to themselves, by encouraging the enmity of the poor, laboring white man against the blacks, succeeds in making the said white man almost as much a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the white slave, and the black slave, is this: the latter belongs to one slaveholder, and the former belongs to all the slaveholders, collectively. The white slave has taken from him, by indirection, what the black slave has taken from him directly, and without ceremony. Both are plundered, and by the same plunderers. The slave is robbed, by his master, of all his earnings, above what is required for his bare physical necessities; and the white man is robbed by the slave system, of the just results of his labor, because he is flung into open competition with a class of laborers who work without wages."
Nor does the 1619 Project mention that the white slave-owners admitted that slavery kept the poor whites poor. Read about one typical slave-owner admitting this, as reported by the Northern visitor he admitted it to in a book reviewed in an 1862 publication, when, after the slave--owner explained to the author that the slave-owners' power relied mainly on getting the poor whites to vote for the pro-slavery politicians [both major parties, the Democratic and Whig, were pro-slavery] was asked by the author, "Then free-schools and education would destroy slavery?" and the slave-owner replied:
"Of course they would. If the poor whites realized that slavery kept them poor would they not vote it down?" [Pg. 541]
By thus censoring the true purpose of systemic racial discrimination, CRT implicitly sends the false message that the purpose was to benefit all white people at the expense of non-white suffering. This implicit message is a false accusation against ordinary white people, an accusation that says they and their forebears are (were) all guilty of being racist oppressors.
When censored this way, CRT pits white working class people against non-whites; it causes the whites to oppose the teaching of CRT in our schools because it implies that they are all guilty racist oppressors, and it causes non-whites to demand that CRT be taught because it describes the reality of systemic racial discrimination in our history. This is how CRT is used by the ruling class for divide-and-rule along race lines, something that it has been doing for centuries one way or another.
Here's some of the KEY history of the origin of racial chattel slavery and systemic racial discrimination that CRT has censored, the history that makes the purpose of systemic racial discrimination evident by examining how and WHY it originated.
THE CENSORED HISTORY
In 1676-7 there was a rebellion of English and African descended bond laborers (indentured servants and slaves*) against the ruling class of Virginia, known as Bacon's Rebellion. Few Americans have heard about this momentous event and how the upper class responded to it because the ruling class in charge of our education today knows that if Americans knew about this event they would understand how racial discrimination is a weapon used by the rich against all working class people regardless of the color of their skin.
Nathaniel Bacon was a member of the ruling elite who launched a rebellion for aims that did not involve liberating bonded laborers* from their bondage. Bacon, however, relied on bonded laborers for his armed uprising and in the course of it, in order to maintain the support of his followers, he was obliged to do the unthinkable: he "proclam'd liberty to all Servants and Negro's" [this and the following accounts are from T.W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race, volume 2, pp 213-14 (and other indicated pages for the quotations below; the book provides the primary source references)].
"The Royal Commissioners noted that "sundry servants and other persons of desperate fortunes in Virginia during the late rebellions deserted from their masters and ran into rebellion on the encouragement of liberty...It became clear, in the words of one Virginia account, 'the name of Authority had but little power to [w]ring the Sword out of these Mad fellows hands.' Authority failing, [Captain Thomas] Grantham [of the thirty gun Concord] 'resalved to acoste them with never to be performed promises" of pardon for the freemen [former indentured servants] and freedom for the bond-laborers, English and Negroes, such as had constituted the rebel army from the time of the burning of Jamestown [by the rebels]...Grantham described the historic encounter:
'I went to Colonel West's house about three miles further, which was their Cheife Garrison and Magazine; I there mett about foure hundred English and Negroes in Armes, who were much dissatisfied at the Surrender of the Point, saying I had betray'd them, and thereupon some were for shooting mee, and others were for cutting mee in peeces; I told them I would willingly surrender myselfe to them, till they were satisfied from his Majestie, and did ingage to the Negroes and Servants, that they were all pardoned and freed from their Slavery: and with faire promises and Rundletts of Brandy, I pacified them, giving them severall Noates under my hand, that what I did was by the Order of His Majestie and the Governor...Most of them I persuaded to goe to their Homes...except about Eighty Negroes and Twenty English which would not deliver Armes.'
"Grantham's testament has significance that is beyond exaggeration: in Virginia, 128 years before William Lloyd Garrison was born, laboring-class African-Americans and European-Americans fought side by side for the abolition of slavery. In so doing they provided the supreme proof that the white race [as a concept designed to achieve social control by the ruling class] did not then exist."
The solidarity between laboring-class African-Americans and European-Americans* fighting alongside each other against the upper class that exploited them both, demanding the abolition of bond labor, frightened the Virginia ruling class extremely. It was precisely to prevent such solidarity--to destroy it!--and thereby secure their domination over all laboring people, that the ruling class did something drastic. They instituted overt racial discrimination in order to make working class people of European descent view those of African descent as less than fully human and thereby foment mistrust and resentment and even fear between the former and latter groups of working class people.
They broke with centuries of English common law to create an entirely novel system of social control based on creating something that had not previously existed--a "white race" defined as people of European descent who, no matter how poor, would, by newly enacted law, hold a higher social position than absolutely every person of African descent, no matter how wealthy. Heretofore individual people had been deprived of their liberty, as were indentured servants, and some people of African descent had been made indentured servants for life (which is one definition of slavery), but not yet had an entire race of people been dehumanized by being made thoroughly inferior under the law to people of European descent. For the British upper class, however, this was a case of desperate times requiring desperate measures.
As recounted by T.W. Allen in his book, the British ruling class in the American colonies had enormous fear of solidarity existing among all the bond-laborers, both of European and African descent, and for that reason knew that they needed to use a new and very different method to control the bond-laborers: explicit discrimination based on race rather than property.
"In January 1677 the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Thomas Notley, watching with understandable anxiety the unfolding events in Virginia, had sounded a warning. 'There must be an alteration though not of the Government yet in the Government[;] new men should be put in power. the old men will never agree with the common people, and if that not be done, His majesty will never find a well settled Government in that Colony.' Four months later, Notley again made the point in a letter to Lord Baltimore. If a new leader came forward ready to risk his life in the cause, he said, 'the Commons of Virginia would Emmire themselves as deep in Rebellion as ever they did in Bacon's time.' The plantation bourgeoise must find a new strategy for social control, for 'if the Ould Course be taken, and if Coll. Jeoffreys [Herbert Jeffreys, Berkeley's successor as Royal Governor of Virginia] build his proceedings upon the Ould foundation its neither him nor all his Majesties Souldiers in Virginia will either satisfy or Rule these people.'" [pg. 221-2]
"The [Bacon's] rebellion was over, but the rebelliousness of bond-laborers was not. In 1698, Francis Nicholas, then Governor of Maryland, reported to the Board of Trade the arrival of 326 'Negro' bond-laborers directly from Africa, and 70 more from Virginia and Pennsylvania....[H]e estimated that another 600 or 700 bond-laborers had arrived from Europe, 'Chiefly Irish.., most if not all, papists.' If that trend were to continue, he said, the two groups might join forces in both Virginia and Maryland to make 'great disturbances, if not a rebellion.' The following year, 1699, the Virginia House of Burgesses rejected the Board of Trade's idea of arming their 'servants' against the possibility of a French invasion should war be renewed. With the signing of the Peace of Ryswick, a lull in the war with France had begun, but a by-product of the peace was that too many ungovernable Irish veterans were being shipped as bond-laborers to the Chesapeake. 'If they were armed...we have just reason to fear they may rise upon us,' said the Burgesses. Although of one mind with the Board of Trade on the possibility of a French invasion, the Burgesse feared the bond-laborers, 'from the sake of their freedom and the difference of the religion, a great many of them (especially the Irish) and for other reasons...would rather be our enemies than contribute to our assistance.'" [pg. 218-19]
"What was to be done? What was the 'alteration in the government, but not of the government' that would exorcise the ghost of Bacon's Rebellion? How was laboring-class solidarity to be undone? Back to first principles, never better enunciated by an English statesman than by Sir Francis Bacon. '[I]t is a certain sign of wise government, " Sir Francis advised, "...when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction.' And, with acknowledgment to Machiavelli, Bacon advocated 'dividing and breaking of all factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and setting them at distance or at least distrust among themselves.'...The solution was to establish a new birthright not only for Anglos but for every Euro-American, the 'white' identity that 'set them at a distance,' to use Sir Francis's phrase, from the laboring-class African-Americans, and enlisted them as active, or at least passive, supporters of lifetime bondage of African-Americans.** Edmund S. Morgan [another scholar Allen cited earlier] introduces a catalogue of these white-skin privilege laws, with the assertion that "The answer to the problem [of preventing a replay of Bacon's Rebellion]...was racism, to separate dangerous free whites from dangerous slave blacks by a screen of racial contempt." In this way, he emphasizes, 'the [Virginia] assembly deliberately did what it could to foster contempt of whites for blacks and Indians." Bruce [another scholar Allen cited] attests that '[t]oward the end of the seventeenth century' there occurred 'a marked tendency to promote a pride of race among members of every class of white people, to be white gave the distinction of color even to the agricultural [European-American bond-]servants, whose condition, in some respects, was not much removed from that of actual slavery; to be white and also to be free, combined the distinction of liberty.'" [pg. 248-9]
Allen discusses how the ruling class aimed to, as Sir Francis Bacon advised, "hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction" to obtain a loyal 'intermediate stratum' with which to make governance of the laboring class sustainable:
"The exclusion of free African-Americans from the intermediate stratum was a corollary of the establishment of 'white' identity as a mark of social status for masses of European-Americans without real prospects of upward social mobility, and yet induce them to abandon their opposition to the plantocracy and enlist them actively, or at least passively, in keeping down the Negro bond-laborer with whom they had made common cause in the course of Bacon's Rebellion, the presumption of liberty had to be denied to free African-Americans."** [pg 249]
In 1723, a British lawyer named Richard West was the Attorney-General who, on behalf of the British Crown, was "responsible for advising the Lords of Trade and Plantations whether laws passed in colonial legislatures merited approval, or should be rejected in whole or in part as being prejudicial or contradictory to the laws of England. In due course, West had occasion to examine a measure that was passed by the Virginia Assembly in May 1723 entitled 'An Act directing the trial of Slaves committing capital crimes; and for the more effectual punishing conspiracies and insurrections of them; and for the better government of Negros, Mulattos, and Indians, bond or free.' Article 23 of that 24-article law provided that:
'...no free negro, mulatto, or indian whatsoever, shall have any vote at the election of burgesses, or any other election whatsoever.'
"The Attorney-General made the following categoric objection:
'I cannot see why one freeman should be used worse than another, merely upon account of his complexion..., to vote at elections of officers, either for a county, or parish, etc., is incident to every freeman, who is possessed of a certain proportion of property, and, therefore, when several negroes have merited their freedom, and obtained it, and by their industry, have acquired that proportion of property, so that the above-mentioned incidental rights of liberty are actually vested in them, for my own part, am persuaded, that it cannot be just, by a general law, without any allegation of crime, or other demerit whatsoever, to strip all free persons, of a black complexion (some of whom may, perhaps be of considerable substance,) from those rights, which are so justly valuable to every freeman.' [ pg. 241]
Note that this rejection of racial discrimination was made by a presumably typical upper class Briton a full twenty years before Thomas Jefferson was born. So much for the notion that "back then people just didn't know any better."
At this time, class (as opposed to racial) inequality was an established part of "respectable" thinking in England and its colonies, with people of both European and African descent literally owned as property and made to work for no pay and denied the freedom to leave their master [which is what "bond labor" meant]. In 1640, Virginia, for the first time, punished such an indentured servant--an African American named John Punch--by extending his period of indenture to life, while punishing the two European-American bond laborers who ran away with him with lesser punishments. Thus began what became the slavery of African-Americans in the colonies. But in 1723 the concept of an entire race of people, regardless of their economic (i.e, class) status, being inferior and undeserving of rights enjoyed by another race of people was only just being introduced by the propertied class, for reasons of social control that are discussed in fascinating detail by T.W. Allen in the above referenced book.
As it turned out, Attorney-General Richard West's views, no doubt shared by others in his social class, were jettisoned by "respectable" property owners in order to create what became known as the "white race"--a concept designed specifically by the propertied class to persuade people of European descent, no matter how much they were exploited as tenant farmers or even chattel bond laborers themselves, to believe it was morally right, and in their best interest, to help the propertied class enslave or at least deny basic rights to all people of African descent. The point is that the propertied class invented the idea of racial discrimination knowing full well how morally wrong the idea was, and how thoroughly it violated extant cultural norms. Attorney-General Richard West is proof of this.
"Thus when Virginia Governor William Gooch was asked in 1723 by the Lords of Trade and Plantations what were the reasons that induced the Assembly to pass the act, articles of which Attorney-General Richard West said "cannot be just," the Governor said that the racially discriminatory curtailment of the franchise was in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros and Mulattos." Allen notes that this "proceeded from a conscious decision in the process of establishing a system of racial oppression, even though it meant repealing an electoral principle that had existed in Virginia for more than a century...[The] hallmark [of this system of racial oppression] is the insistence on the social distinction between the poorest member of the oppressor group and any member, however propertied, of the oppressed group." [pg. 242-3]
Another break with centuries of prior English common law was also necessary to enforce white superiority. A child's social status had always heretofore been inherited from the father; now it was changed to be inherited from the mother so that the children of a slave would be a slave even if the father was "white"; otherwise the child of a slave owner father and a slave mother would have been both "white" and of African descent, which had to be made impossible. If a "white" woman ever had a child by a non-white man, then according to the law at the time the child would be both "white" and of African descent, which would again threaten the system of social control. This is probably the origin of the ruling elite's overwrought fear in the American South of a black man having relations with a white woman.
THE LESSON HISTORY TEACHES, BUT THAT CRT CENSORS
Absent solidarity between all working class people regardless of skin color, there is no way any working class people of any color can mount a successful fight against ruling class domination and exploitation. Being exploited (i.e., being made to work to produce wealth to enrich a wealthy upper class while, oneself, remaining much poorer) less than others is not a benefit, as the word "privilege" implies in the phrase "white skin privilege." Being exploited less than others is the opposite of a benefit; it is an injury because being exploited at all is an injury.
The English bond laborers in Bacon's Rebellion knew that even though African-Americans were worse off as slaves for life, nonetheless English bond laborers were suffering oppression, not enjoying a benefit or a "privilege." This is why the English- and African-American bond laborers were able to mount a struggle that seriously threatened to end the ruling class's domination of society. The imposition of "white race" laws that denied rights to, and dehumanized, people of African descent based on skin color, and the fact that these racist laws resulted in substantial numbers of European-American working class people believing the lie that these laws benefited them and believing that people with darker skin were less than fully human and even on occasions violently attacking them, is the chief cause of the impoverishment of American working class people of all shades of skin color; it is the chief reason that the tiny minority of the richest Americans (people such as the Founding Fathers early on and today, a billionaire ruling plutocracy) have been able to dominate ALL the have-nots of ALL races and treat them like dirt. For more discussion of this, please see "True or False: An Injury to One Is an Injury to All?" and "Is it a 'Privilege' Not to be Discriminated Against?" and Martin Luther King, Jr.s speech about why the Jim Crow laws HARMED, not benefited the poor whites.
WHO SPEAKS THE TRUTH TODAY?
The last prominent intellectual or leader in the United States who spoke the truth about racial discrimination against non-whites--that it harms not only the obvious non-white victims but ALSO white working class people, that it does NOT benefit white working class people--was Martin Luther King, Jr. King gave a powerful speech in Selma, Alabama about how the Jim Crow laws harmed, not benefited, the poor whites, about how these racist laws were an instrument of upper class domination of the entire working class. The U.S. government killed MLK, Jr. And since that day, not a single prominent intellectual or leader in the United States has dared to utter and explain the KEY truth about systemic racial discrimination--its anti-working class PURPOSE--for the expression of which the government killed MLK, Jr.
Any author who writes about systemic racial discrimination in the United States today knows that they can be a successful, widely published and mass-media-interviewed author by describing in detail racial discrimination in the United States today and in the past, and by discussing at great length the extremely negative psychological effect on people (of all races and classes) of this racial discrimination at both the individual and the group level, and by analyzing racial discrimination in all sorts of ways, such as comparing it to--or casting it as--the U.S. version of a caste society as in India.
But authors also know that if they include the KEY truth in their book--the fact that systemic racial**** discrimination, from its inception to the present day, has been NECESSARY for the upper class to impose in order to remain in power, despite whatever negative effects it may have on upper class people*****; that systemic racial discrimination was and is an instrument used by the upper class to destroy working class solidarity and thereby dominate and oppress ALL races of working class people and NOT to benefit white working class people--then it will not get published by a big publisher that can get the book read by lots of people, and it will never win a Pulitzer Prize or be included in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club, or be reviewed in major newspapers or magazines, or lead to interviews by the mass media.
Any politician who wants to succeed in a political career (not to mention remain alive) knows that it is just too dangerous, and certainly a career killer (not because ordinary people wouldn't vote for them but because the rich would not fund their election campaigns and the mass media would marginalize or ridicule them or character-assassinate them), to speak about this KEY truth about systemic racial discrimination; and so none do. Any academic who wants to have a presence in the mass media knows that expressing this KEY truth about systemic racial discrimination--its anti-working class purpose--is not an option, and so none of the academics with, or desirous of, a mass media presence do it.
For the truth about systemic racial discrimination to be widely known it will require people like you--dear reader of this article--to spread it. There will not be a Big Leader to do it for us.
* Read here about bond labor versus slave labor at this time; the distinction had not yet become as sharp as it did later.
** Obviously, to anybody who has read Critical Race Theory (CRT) literature or studied the history of race in the United States, the ruling class has been very successful in getting working class whites on numerous occasions to attack, often very violently, black people just because they were black. The entire point of my article is to show that this was deliberately fomented by the ruling class, using systemic racial discrimination, for divide-and-rule of the entire working class of all races.
*** To see evidence of this censorship, read the Brookings Institution article about why parents are so hostile to CRT, and note that it contains not a hint that systemic racial discrimination has, from its inception, been created and used by the ruling upper class to dominate and oppress working class people off ALL races, and not to benefit white working class people. Instead, the Brookings Institution (a very ruling class organization) article is all about how the parents hostile to CRT are simply mistaken in thinking that CRT says white people are racist oppressors.
The article says these parents just don't understand that laws and institutions can be racially discriminatory without white people being, personally, racist in their beliefs or attitudes. The authors of this Brookings article are presumably not stupid and nor do they live on another planet. They certainly know that for many years now the ruling class has been using its mass media and politicians to tell white working class people that they enjoy (presumably not fairly so, either) "white privilege" (note that a "privilege" is by definition a benefit) because of systemic racial discrimination against non-whites. This has thoroughly framed the issue of race as "what harms non-whites benefits--as a 'privilege'--whites."
The authors of the Brookings article must know--they can't be so stupid as not to know--that in the current discourse about race in the U.S. if one describes an example of systemic racial discrimination against non-whites without explicitly saying that it HARMS, not benefits, working class whites as well as harms the obvious non-white victims (as Martin Luther King, Jr. famously explained in a key speech) then the implicit and very clear message will be that ordinary white people BENEFIT from that systemic racial discrimination against non-whites, i.e., that working class whites are racist oppressors of non-whites.
The Brookings article's authors disingenuously pretend not to know this. They pretend to believe that there is no implicit message about working class white guilt conveyed by the CRT descriptions of systemic racial discrimination with its anti-working class purpose censored. They pretend to believe that the CRT content (with its censorship of the anti-working class purpose of systemic racial discrimination, a censorship they pretend not to even notice!) is just fine, and that the only problem is the stupidity of white working class parents. This article reflects the utter contempt that the ruling class has for the working class, as it promotes its deliberate divide-and-rule-along-race-lines strategy.
**** In countries other than the United States, of course, the upper class divides-and-rules the have-nots by whatever means are appropriate to the circumstances, which may involve not race (skin color) but other features, either genetic or cultural or a combination. For example, the Belgian colonial rulers of Rwanda pitted the Hutu Africans against the Tutsi Africans so diabolically that it lead to a massive genocide subsequently; yet the visible physical differences between the two groups are very slight or even non-existent.
***** Some such authors write about how systemic racial discrimination harms all people in this or that way, but they do not make the key point that the upper ruling class imposes this systemic racial discrimination because it needs to do so in order to remain in power and in order to dominate and oppress working class whites, despite any harm it may cause to members of the upper ruling class. For example, Isabel Wilkerson in her book, CASTE, in which she discusses systemic racial discrimination in the United States as a specific example of the more general phenomenon of caste hierarchy in a society, writes:
"Without an enlightened recognition of the price we all pay for a caste system, the hierarchy will likely shape-shift as I has in the past to ensure that the structure remains intact."
"It turns out that everyone benefits when society meets the needs of the disadvantaged."
This kind of writing obscures the fact that while the systemic discrimination may have some negative consequences for members of the ruling elite, the ruling oppressive elite nonetheless NEEDS this systemic discrimination in order to remain the ruling oppressive elite, and as a ruling oppressive elite it oppresses ALL the other woking class people, including those not in the lowest rung of the social hierarchy.