Critical Race Theory—which posits that current racial inequalities often presented as happenstance are inextricably linked to centuries of overt racist violence and subjugation—is the subject of the Republican party's latest moral panic.
At both state and federal levels, the Republican party has sensationalized the theory, falsely claiming that it's being used to teach children to hate white people. Republican officials at every level have sought to ban it being taught in public schools, though there's little evidence it's taught below the college level in the first place. Congressional Republicans have railed against the theory, though few of them can explain what it actually is.
This past June, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed a bill into law that limits what educators can say in the classroom about race, especially in regards to current events.
Now, Critical Race Theory hysteria has come to roost in Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Texas, where parents at a school board meeting called for the firing of Dr. James Whitfield—a middle school principal in the district—claiming he was promoting Critical Race Theory to the students.
The beginning of Whitfield's tenure as principal was marred when it began in 2019, after district officials asked him to remove 10 year old photos of him showing affection to his wife, who is white, while on vacation in Mexico. The officials claimed they didn't want to see things "stirred up" by the pictures.
In the wake of the Critical Race Theory accusations, the photos resurfaced, exacerbating the heightened tensions.
Dr. Whitfield addressed the matter in a lengthy Facebook post.
"I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman. I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be."
On September 1, the district reissued a statement, claiming the suspension had nothing to do with the photos or with Critical Race Theory:
"The decision to place Dr. Whitfield on administrative leave was not a result of statements made by members of the public, including those who spoke at recent meetings of the GCISD Board of Trustees. Nor was the decision made in response to allegations Dr. Whitfield was teaching Critical Race Theory, or because of the photos on his social media account that were brought to the attention of the District in 2019."
The district still didn't elaborate on the reason for the suspension beyond that it was a "personnel matter."
The suspension had people worried that Critical Race Theory hysteria is already resulting in job losses for educators.
Fahrenheit 451 is becoming more true every day https://t.co/Mcxf5yXE9p— GB&T account holder🍊 (@GB&T account holder🍊) 1630502869.0
The firings of teachers have begun. A new McCarthy era. https://t.co/pBZGqp0sQR— Jason Stanley (@Jason Stanley) 1630497611.0
Bruh this has pissed me off. This can’t be real life https://t.co/pY1p90o1sR— Felix Trammell (@Felix Trammell) 1630512212.0
This is their first black principal and they have been complaining since he got there. Jim crow 2.0 at it's finest… https://t.co/BTuFeHUxI7— Jewel Calico (@Jewel Calico) 1630556648.0
Love how they always wanna be talking about teaching America’s history but the second that history has anything to… https://t.co/nA5avY95lK— skyeミ☆ (@skyeミ☆) 1630529259.0
They’re really pressed. Hmmm, its very weird that they’re passing laws to restrict discussions about race & history… https://t.co/TPLPZzN4xg— Chanté G. (@Chanté G.) 1630693053.0
This is where we are. School officials in this district have no idea what CRT is. But they don’t want schools teach… https://t.co/EeVFDpSgwT— Charles Haynes (@Charles Haynes) 1630544753.0
It appeared to be yet another instance of the "cancel culture" from within the Republican party.
Just pure, straight up, unadulterated racism. (Oh and conservative cancel culture! Cancel culture too!) https://t.co/RthrcHxkhV— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan) 1630511936.0
I thought they were worried about cancel culture... smh https://t.co/RsRoTRVOdL— NotDanSnyder (@NotDanSnyder) 1630520089.0
Cancel culture. Did I do this right? https://t.co/zW37JgnRGl— Danielle Kurtzleben (@Danielle Kurtzleben) 1630501410.0
Whitfield has yet to be reinstated.