Don't Gaslight Me Bro!
Yes Virginia, Ethnic Studies IS Critical Race Theory.
At the end of the July 20, 2021, DSUSD board meeting, the board took the position that Ethnic Studies was not Critical Race Theory (CRT) and that the board had no choice but to approve the course. Are we being gaslighted? And, if we are being gaslighted, is it out of ignorance or hubris? Ready to find out?
In my very first article about California Ethnic Studies, Infiltration Not Invasion, I discussed how the Model Curriculum (MC) was the epitome of gaslighting. We are told in the introduction of the MC that Ethnic Studies is not divisive. The authors of the MC wasted no time in taking a defensive posture, they even offered up a renowned scholar, Christine Sleeter, to wag her finger at anyone that might think otherwise. A few pages later, the MC divides students into four main victim groups and one oppressor group. So, there is that.
In A True Report… (issue 5) I covered how the MC sources its guiding principles and values to texts with “Critical Race Theory” in the title. I also covered how the MC instructs Administrators and Teachers to learn CRT, and states boldly that students will learn CRT. I think the answer to the gaslighting question is already a resounding yes, but mind if I resound it a bit more?
The MC relies heavily on the works of the above-mentioned scholar Christine Sleeter. Sleeter is brought up by the second paragraph to help justify the existence of the curriculum. In A True Report… I mentioned how the three authors of the MC were able to obtain various grants in order to write it, but they relied on the theories of other academics to do their job. Christine Sleeter is at the forefront of those academics. So, who is Christine Sleeter, and what are her theories that are so heavily relied upon?
I am glad you asked! Though, I’m sure you were thinking that three sentences ago. It would probably be best to simply ask Christine Sleeter who she is and if she would gaslight us. I like to go right to the books section, please join me.
The first book that catches my eye is Transformative Ethnic Studies in Schools. The three things that stick out, besides it being at the top of the page, is the imagery of the cover (I will talk about the fists in a bit), the word “transformative”, and the book review Sleeter chose to post. Have a look.
Once again, we peasants are subjected to finger wagging if we dare question our betters. If you can define being called a White supremacist whose politics are rooted in fear as finger wagging. Should I feel awful for questioning and quit now? Nope. I will leave David (the reviewer) with his “comrades in this struggle” and press on. He reminds me a bit of Stalin anyhow.
Transformative, means a marked change in something. What does Sleeter want to see a marked change in? Scroll with me to the next book, Rethinking Ethnic Studies, I have a feeling we might find an answer.
We do find an answer, in one of the reviews she chose to post on her very own website. It appears that we must recognize “legacies of white supremacy, colonization, and imperialism that have long shaped U.S. schools and society” and transform education in its entirety. Bah! Hyperbole you say, that is just a reviewer, not Christine herself. Christine, a little help?
We get our answer in School Education, Pluralism and Marginality—you probably figured out you had to scroll down five to find that one, sorry I will give a heads-up next time. The answer, in her own words:
We make the case that school education must be conceptualized around the material, social, and life experiences of marginalized groups….
“Okay, Kenny, from the tavern,” you say, “but what does this all have to do with Ethnic Studies being Critical Race Theory? You ask the best questions! Heads-up: The next book (and answer) will be four down.
But before you go there, take some time and scroll through all of the books. Take note of the evolution fromMulticulturalism, to Critical Multiculturalism, to Ethnic Studies, to the present of “rethinking” Ethnic studies to something more “transformative”. Something “Critical perhaps”?
Time to scroll. Critical Multiculturalism: Theory and Praxis is the one we want.
It is at this point that Sleeter tells us in her own words that CRT was integrated into Multiculturalism, along with a couple of other “criticals” to transform Multiculturalism into something more “critical”, and then into Ethnic Studies. Thus, Ethnic Studies and CRT are intertwined and inseparable. But is that true? Who you gonna ask? Sleeter!
How about we leave the books for now—Oh look, she has a blog! Oh…
So there we have it. While Sleeter will refer to CRT as an “analytical tool”, she equates CRT to Ethnic Studies in the first paragraph.
Once again for those in back, Critical Race Theory and Ethnic Studies are mutually inclusive—there cannot be one without the other. Thus to say “Ethnic Studies is NOT Critical Race Theory” is perhaps just ignorant, but given the condescension and the ad hominin attacks should one even question Ethnic Studies/CRT, I would say the board response is a perfect example of—say it with me—Gaslighting.
If you read Infiltration Not Invasion, you will recall that I posited that Ethnic Studies is a Marxist movement meant to disrupt our society. I will not rehash that argument here, but I will reinforce it. But first, a pre-emptive argument to any that think I should keep politics out of education. Sleeter started it—back to the books!
In Multicultural Education as Social Activism, towards the bottom of the page, Sleeter herself tells us that the entire goal of Ethnic Studies (then Multiculturalism) is political.
Given the amount of time the Model Curriculum devotes to the domestic terrorist organization Black Lives Matter, that caused $2 billion in damage in just two months of the “Summer of Love” that was 2020, and holds that organization up as an exemplar. Given the number of lessons that direct students to find issues in their community and implement BLM (Marxist) tactics how long before a group of students adopt those tactics to demand change from the district? If the board thought a few parents were rude, can you imagine how they would handle it if BLM attended a meeting like they did with Bernie Sanders?
Hyperbole again? Who you gonna ask? Sleeter? No, not this time, how about we ask Santa Barbara School District:
I will not delve into the history of that raised fist (remember the fists from earlier), but I would urge everyone to look into the Marxist history of it. Here is one from communist-aligned Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC) 1936:
One more thing about that Santa Barbara picture. If you visit the linked page up there, you might notice that they call their ethnic studies teachers a “cadre”. A cadre in communist lingo is a a “cell of trained and dedicated workers” (dictionary.com). The Santa Barbara Cadre undergoes training from ARE, a La Raza Educators group. Notice two things in the screenshot below: First, they refer to California as “Califas”, secondly the first Statewide event is titled “Teaching Activism: From the Classroom to the Streets.” Oh, and there is that fist again.
I would say that yes, the DSUSD community was gaslighted by the board. The board said they were going to pass Ethnic Studies, and they did, but they said Ethnic Studies was most definitely NOT CRT, and it is. They said themselves that the only thing we as a community can do about it is vote them out. What shall we do, how could we VOTE THEM OUT? How much more damage will they be allowed to do? By the time your kids are looting and burning the district office—peacefully protesting—it will be too late, for both the kids and our country.