At the beginning of November 2021, there was a governor’s election in the state of Virginia where I reside. The duel was between the Democratic candidate who is experienced, well-known & well-connected with the government, and has experience as a former governor, and the Republican candidate who is a former top executive from an investment fund and who has no prior political experience. Up until a month and a half ago, everyone believed that it would be an overwhelming victory for the Democrats. But from the latter half of September, the tide turned, and right before the election day, the favorability ratings for the candidates reversed slightly. And as it turned out, the Republication candidate ended up winning the election.
One of the reasons that was raised for the Democrats losing the election was the opposition of parents to the Democratic-supporting teachers who have been teaching “Critical Race Theory” in schools. In the state of Virginia where Democrats are strong, what is this “Critical Race Theory” which provoked such antagonism to completely overturn the election conditions?
As a general description, it is a theory that race as a concept is not something decided by nature through a person’s skin color, hair type, facial features, or other physical characteristics, but rather is an artificial construct by a people forming a society aimed at oppressing and exploiting a certain group of people.
Under this theory, a prejudiced society that has “constructed” race with the aim of discrimination will not be able to solve the problems of discrimination rooted in its society with its laws and policies. One example that has been raised is the 1954 Supreme Court decision of the case Brown v. Board of Education. This decision overturned the Kansas state law which allowed the racial segregation in the education of African American students from white students (African American students were removed from white classrooms), but there is a theory that what was happening in the background was the concern of rioting by the African American military veterans who fought for the US in World War II and the Korean War, to protest against the classroom segregations. Through the decision of that case, the problem of racial segregation in the classroom was solved on the surface, but the assumption that “African Americans will riot” which it was based on (precisely an act of “constructing” race), will not be solved by law or court decisions. In order to solve this issue, the public needs to understand the root of racism. This is what the people that advocate this theory declare. Furthermore, as a specific method for developing an understanding of the root of racism, early education on this topic is thought to be justified.
It is difficult to imagine that this complex theory itself was being included in the education curriculum of elementary schools and high schools in Virginia. Instead, the reality is probably the general teaching of anti-racism towards the discrimination experienced as a result of this theory. On the other hand, the assertion by the Republican campaign that this theory was being taught in classrooms (and that the problem lies with the Democrats who promote this theory), reached the ears of at least a group of the voters, and fostered antagonism towards the Democrats. Why is this?