Christians still misunderstand Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a world where his children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
After studying what the Bible has to say about race, educating myself on what it means to be anti-racist, and learning from Starlette Thomas about the Raceless Gospel, watching the questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing demonstrated how Christians still pervert King’s hopeful vision.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) used his time to question Jackson about critical race theory. It did not take long into his diatribe to learn the senator either had no idea what he was talking about, or he did know and chose to use CRT to gain political points with his base while questioning the character of the first African American female nominee to the Supreme Court.
Critical Race Theory is a legal theory taught in law schools that offers a “legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.”
Furthermore, “Critical race theorists hold that racism is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the United States insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”
Senator Cruz, and others making this claim, are lying to garner political outrage for their goal of weakening public schools in order to privatize education. They also have a goal of dominating local school boards in order to push their political agendas on children.
Cruz and others misrepresent reality in their attempt to connect historical facts and cultural truths with CRT. While CRT remains a legal theory, history is filled with examples of how European colonists and citizens benefited from the genocide, enslavement and oppression of racialized minorities. This is not theory, but fact.
Public educators must maintain the freedom to teach facts to children. If we lose this freedom, then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past.
Cruz spent much of his time and taxpayer dollars on his giant displays, talking about Ibrahim X. Kendi’s children’s book Antiracist Baby. He cited one part of the book, saying, “Babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist — there is no neutrality.”
He went further, “Another portion of the book: They recommend that babies ‘confess when being racist.’”
Sen. Cruz then asked Judge Jackson, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught to kids that babies are racist?”
Viewers tuning in to the hearing could see the visible angst on Jackson’s face. She began, “Senator…” then paused for a moment.
The Washington Post described that moment brilliantly, “She paused for a long time — long enough, perhaps, for millions of Black Americans to recall the last time some sanctimonious White man tried to dismiss, depreciate or deny the complexity of systemic racism.”
The judge then offered this answer: “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or as though they are not valued, or as though they are less than, that they are victims, that they are oppressors — I don’t believe in any of that.”
Judge Jackson’s answer was superb.
Conservatives like Sen. Cruz love to cite King’s dream of judging people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. They claim they are colorblind, seeing the value and worth of every person based upon the content of their character. However, the character of persons of other political ideologies, especially those with darker skin pigments, seems to be judged more harshly.
The evidence seems to suggest that while some like to quote King when it serves them, putting those words into practice is more problematic. King even lamented that his dream could become a “nightmare.”
In 1967, he told NBC correspondent Sander Vancour that the “old optimism” of the civil rights movement was “a little superficial” and needed a “solid realism.” The “solid realism” we need today is to recognize that the human construct of race has been an extremely powerful tool utilized by those in power.
While perverting King’s dream helps those in power stay in power, the rest of us should be inspired and motivated by his words and deeds.
We should be motivated to demand that historical truths be taught in schools, such as America’s formation being achieved through the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans.
We should not shy away from demanding better from ourselves, always striving to better understand human narratives and conditions. We should call out injustices and inequalities when we see them.
We should work harder to make the world a better place for future generations. Unfortunately, there are those in power that would like to preserve the current worldly structures in order to maintain power and influence over others.
King’s dream is still achievable, but what we saw this week on Capitol Hill is not a step in the right direction.
While attempting to denounce all forms of racism (racism against white people more precisely), Sen. Cruz demonstrated why there is still much work to be accomplished.
We cannot let Cruz and others continue to pervert King’s dream. We must continue to work hard, bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice. Only then will we see the hopeful possibilities of King’s dream.
CEO of Good Faith Media.