On social media, the debate over critical race theory continues to be popular. The debate started Monday after a video from political comedy duo The Good Liars, which was viewed over 3.5 million times, was posted. The video shows a Virginia man declaring critical race theory to have been a very important issue in the state’s gubernatorial elections, which took place on Tuesday. However, he wasn’t sure what it was or what it taught.
“This guy believes Critical Race Theory is the most important issue during the Virginia Election. He also claimed that he does not know what Critical Race Theory means,” tweeted The Good Liars @TheGoodLiars
Jason Selvig, one half of the duo well-known for pulling high-stakes pranks upon public figures, asks directly: “What’s most important in the governor’s election here in Virginia?”
Interview subject: “Getting back to basics of teaching children, and not teaching them critical racism theory.”
When asked “What is critical race theory?” The man replied that he couldn’t “get into all the details” and that he didn’t “understand it that well.” He also said that he didn’t care about “anything that I know.”
Critical race theory is considered a body and movement of U.S. civil right activists and scholars. It was established to examine the intersection between race and U.S. laws, and has been in the news a lot this year.
The Good Liars reported that critical race theory has been a hot topic in Virginia’s campaign trail. Republican Glenn Youngkin promised to fight it and ban CRT in schools. Although the National School Boards Association has said that CRT is not taught in K-12 public schools, some conservatives have claimed that it remains essentially an academic framework that examines history through the lens of racism – and that it could even rewrite U.S. history to treat white people as inherently racist, Newsweek reported.
Twitter Debates CRT
On Tuesday, critical racism theory was in vogue. Many were trying to define what it is and aren’t. Scott Hechinger, civil rights attorney (@ScottHech), was one of those who might have summarised the debate. He tweeted, “The vast majority (all)? People who don’t agree with critical race theories don’t know what critical race theory is.
Dr. Robert A. Sanders was worried that this was being discussed on social media. He is an associate professor and chair of University of New Haven’s National Security Department. Sanders said in a phone interview that social media was not the right forum to discuss this topic if it’s not presented in the right way.
Dr. Sanders, unlike many Twitter pundits, actually teaches a Security, SOvereignty, &Slavery class. He described CRT as a legal studies movement. It’s a way to examine how race and law have impacted our society. Critics have made it into something that it isn’t. This is not about teaching white children to hate themselves.”
In the interest of fairness, this reporter also reached out to the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher F. Rufo – a noted critic of CRT – for commentary. Neither Mr. Rufo nor the Manhattan Institute responded.
The Right Platform
The outcome of the election could be affected by CRT in Virginia. However, many people across the country have commented on Twitter. It is important to consider whether social media platforms are the right place to discuss this issue.
Sanders suggested that social media is a great platform for dealing with “unfacts”. “There used to be editors in the media that looked at the news and presented the information to the world. There were still problems, however. Editors could filter news in a way that was prejudicial and self-serving. Now, social media allows anyone to post about these important topics and become an editor. Many lack the skills and research abilities to be reporters.
One could argue that social media users are too focused on the headlines and not enough is done to verify facts.
Sander warned that “they post whatever they want and label them as fact.” Sander warned that it could be far from reality. This is part of the problem with social media’s level of discourse. You don’t get verified facts. Instead, you get innuendo or made-up facts about these important topics.
Sanders suggested that some people in mainstream media had distorted CRT, and that this has been passed to social media.
Sanders said, “No one has the time to read.” “They’re too busy tweeting what they think they know of CRT.”