Stop Calling Everything You Don't Like 'Critical Race Theory' | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Issac J. Bailey during a Newsweek podcast debate on critical race theory. You can listen to the podcast here:

Critical race theory is something very specific: It's an attempt to deal with how race affects even neutral seeming laws. That's what it actually is. And yet, over the past year or so, it has become so many other things that people don't like about how people talk about race. It is important to actually define these terms.

If you don't like the book White Fragility, just say you don't like that book—and explain why. Don't try to lump that into this whole CRT label.

One of the great things about critical race theory, or the Voting Rights Act, is that they actually take into account disparate impact between different races. If the only thing that you hang your hat on is an absolutely purposeful attempt to tear down Black people, like those who actually say, "We are trying to hurt Black people" as the only standard of racism, you will never be able to root all the problems that we've had for decades.

critical race theory
People talk before the start of a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Take white privilege, for instance. Most people have what I would call a fluency privilege. As a stutterer in a world that is built on fluency, they have a massive advantage over me. I am not saying that to try to make you feel guilty about your fluency, and I am not trying to say that I am less equal because I stutter.

And yet, in a country that was founded on race-based chattel slavery, if I say that race has offered some people more advantages, that is suddenly taken as this massive offense. That is something that I have to push back on. A lot.

Issac Bailey is professor of public policy at Davidson College, a 2014 Nieman fellow at Harvard University and author of Why Didn't We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland. Twitter: @ijbailey.

The views in this article are the writer's own.