How most people use Critical Race Theory to tokenize Afrikan-Black people

Descendants of thousands of years of intellectualism, knowledge, scholarship, activism originating on the continent of Afrika.

Descendants of centuries of Afrikan-Black intellectualism, knowledge, scholarship, activism on the stolen land and the stolen, raped, murdered, and controlled people of the Americas and Western Hemisphere.

Afrikan-Black people are descendants of thousands of years on the continent of Afrika, and parts of the world, and centuries on the Western Hemisphere.

Five centuries ago, to further narrow people to non-biological categorical inequities and to control people, white people created racial categories to encompass thousands of years of billions of people from millions of identities and cultures around the world.

There are thousands of years of enslavements around the world and Trans-Atlantic slavery primarily focused on nations in West Afrika. Trans-Atlantic slavery stole people from thousands of ethnicities, cultures, languages, work-labor-economics, holistic, medicines, mental health, physical health, foods, land development, knowledges, intellectualisms, verbal languages, nonverbal languages, writings, arts, music, spiritualities, religions, sciences, mathematics, teaching, learning, gender identities and non-identities, sexualities and non-sexualities, body types, hair and clothing.

People were physically forced and mentally-emotionally forced to comply with European-white standards.

Rather than explain everything in the above sentences, I ask American adults — and adults in other white dominated societies and nations — what they learned in K-12 and, if they attended college, what they learned in undergraduate programs and graduate programs.

I ask American educators what they teach in K-12 or colleges-universities.

Most children and most adults do not learn much in school. This is the profitable racist-and-classist design of K-12 and colleges-universities based in European-white versions of histories, sciences, mathematics, and arts.

School decision makers, accreditation agencies, public libraries, school libraries, journal article publishers, book publishers, school curriculum, and school materials are mostly based in European-white determination of knowledge, facts, importance, and necessity.

Most people leave K-12 and colleges-universities, including terminal degrees, learning that white people (mostly white men with five centuries of support and help from white women) are either the creators of everything worth learning or the main advancers of everything worth learning.

Those of us who are not white (and “whiteness” encompasses various ethnicities, cultures, languages, religions, and societies and nations) are stuck in a certain month or as a subtopic/side topic/special topic.

False colorblindness and colorblind racism are how white people pretend racial objectivity, racial neutrality, and claim it is a non-racial and non-racist coincidence that nearly everything is about white people — including attempts to hide whiteness or disguise whiteness.

Example: Some white controlled public schools claim to want racial inclusion in school curriculum. However, materials are mostly written by white people, published by white people, and curriculum changes only happen if allowed by white people and approved by white people — primarily white school decision makers, white tax payers, and white voters.

This harms nearly all parts of our personal lives and professional lives. The education system directly connects with social-political system, employment and economic system, family services system, medical and health system, and police-court-penal system.

Some of you are reading this and wondering what this has to do with Critical Race Theory.

It is crucial to understand identities, experiences, and facts beyond catchwords and catchphrases that you see and hear thrown around quite often.

Critical Race Theory originated 1970s-1980s and is based in centuries of Afrikan-Black activism and scholarship.

Much of the centuries of Afrikan-Black activism and scholarship are stolen by white people, misrepresented by white people, hidden by white people (including removing from publishing and from libraries) and intentionally and consistently omitted from the curriculum of most K-12 and most colleges-universities.

Rather than focusing on Pro-CRT versus Anti-CRT, it is more productive to focus on more than a century of Afrikan-Black people’s demands to end white terrorism that takes many forms including police control and police violence, medical racism and scientific racism, employment practices, and the white dominance of every aspect of every level of school systems-school districts-schools.

When Afrikan-Black people demand racial inclusion and racial justice in every aspect of American education and American schools, this is more than one book, more than one class, and more than choosing your favorite quote to throw around randomly.

Speaking of quotes, white people, including white educators and white school decision makers, most often choose quotes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and intentionally ignore Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes that contain criticisms of white people across political parties.

Because most white people choose selective vision and convenient awareness, Afrikan-Black people’s demands for racial inclusion and racial justice cannot require smiles, polite words, and hugs and comfort for white people.

Instead, Afrikan-Black people’s demands for racial inclusion and racial justice require measurably and lastingly reducing white control and racial inequities from school decision makers, school employees, library services, textbook selection, course curriculum, course material selection, testing, and school accreditation.

White control and racial inequities in the above items are perpetuated and strengthened every school year regardless of Critical Race Theory on a school’s curriculum and regardless of the amount of “antiracism” trainings, committees, and official statements.

Critical Race Theorists want you to stop using the theory to tokenize Afrikan-Black people.

You are tokenizing us when you celebrate Critical Race Theory without learning historical and current facts that exist without permission and approval from white people.

You are tokenizing us when you are not learning the foundation of Afrikan-Black identities, experiences, and race theories before Critical Race Theory and including Critical Race Theory.

You are tokenizing us when you are Pro-CRT while pretending cluelessness or unavailability to speak at school board meetings, to contact school decision makers, to contact school officials, to contact accreditation agencies, and other methods for communities, tax payers, and voters to tell schools that the curriculum must be changed or people will speak out against schools and school districts.

This includes teachers, school counselors, and other school employees who are afraid to speak out against their employer and will not unite (which does not require a union) to change curriculum.

This fear is prevalent despite some teachers, school counselors, and other school employees claiming to support Critical Race Theory on social media and claiming to support racially inclusive school curriculum.

Afrikan-Black people are tokenized when non-Black people claim to understand and appreciate Critical Race Theory.

Non-Black people are supporting us only when Critical Race Theory is perceived as a nonthreatening hashtag and topic trending on the news and on social media.

Non-Black people are supporting us only when it is convenient and comfortable without potential threat to non-Black people’s personal life and professional life.

This is also based on approval from white liberals and white progressives.

Most non-Black people only want to be called “ally” and to take social media photos at African-Black events and African-Black social justice marches.

When Critical Race Theory goes back to not being a mainstream (white people) topic of discussion, the theory will go back to being ignored by most Americans the same way most African-Black activism and scholarship are ignored by most Americans.

The white-based anti-Trump versus pro-Trump focus on Critical Race Theory will not result in changes to policies and behaviors for the centuries of demands from African-Black people.

The white-based anti-Trump versus pro-Trump focus on Critical Race Theory will not result in conducting annual program assessments and evaluations to measure and strengthen racial inclusion, racial equity, and racial justice in systems, schools, and organizations.

Despite this reality, African-Black people are expected to be excited that some white people like a theory — despite most white people choosing ignorance of centuries of the foundation of the theory and decades of the actual theory.

We are expected to pretend white people liking a theory (and especially an African-Black theory constructed 1970s-1980s) has ever meant there is real, measurable, and lasting racial inclusion, racial equity, and racial justice.

Further, most African-Black people alive 1980s-2021 have not heard of Critical Race Theory. Most African-Black activists and scholars alive 1980s-2021 have not specifically incorporated Critical Race Theory in their work. Not because Critical Race Theory is a bad theory — I am a theorist who has taught sociology theory and crime theory courses and I remind everyone that all theories must be critiqued, tested, and developed over time — but because it is a theory among many race ideas, race concepts, and race theories and particularly those constructed, critiqued, and applied by African-Black people.

I highlight this because pretending this theory is the most relevant form of knowledge, activism, scholarship, and racial equity is counter to Critical Race Theory.

Using Critical Race Theory to tokenize African-Black people is counter to Critical Race Theory.

If you do not know the historical and current foundation of a theory and are unwilling to go beyond repeating a summary of a theory, you are counter to Critical Race Theory.

You are using Critical Race Theory to tokenize African-Black people.

African-Black people are accustomed to this routine, accustomed to being tokenized, and accustomed to being told to smile while accepting white people’s and anti-Black non-Black people’s control of various aspects of our personal lives and professional lives.

Lastly, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois’s “double consciousness” does not mean to become content and complacent about bare minimum from white people.

If trailblazers like Dr. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Claudia Jones had lived to see Critical Race Theory, perhaps they would appreciate the theory’s similarity to previous African-Black works. Perhaps they would constantly encourage and help African-Black people to go beyond appreciating a theory, go beyond repeating a theory, and go beyond wanting and needing white people’s permission and approval.

Please find podcast interviews, writings, and list of services on the 365 Diversity website.

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Community advocate, sociologist and criminologist, educator, researcher, founder & CEO of www.365Diversity.com

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Dr. Kimya Nuru Dennis

Dr. Kimya Nuru Dennis

Community advocate, sociologist and criminologist, educator, researcher, founder & CEO of www.365Diversity.com

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