CRT is the new boogeyman, in the sense that it's become a shapeless, formless specter that haunts our schools and churches. For those who are vehemently against it, it seems to include almost everything about race or racism, like some amoeba floating around absorbing everything in the water, or like the blob from the old horror movie, assimilating everything in its path. Being the skeptical person I am, every time I see a list of authors that I'm warned against because they are CRT (or do CRT, or believe CRT, or practice CRT. Honestly, even the language used to describe it is exhaustingly vague), I look them up to see if that's the case. Sometimes, they are authors who speak against racism or promote anti-racism, but who never claim to embrace CRT, sometimes even openly disclaiming it, like Ibram X. Kendi.
And yet, fellow Christians are constantly warning me that every book on anti-racism is CRT, and that CRT is the devil, to quote Mama Boucher. Usually, these accusations come from people who haven't read the books they warn against, and haven't read any CRT scholars of note. Instead, they lambast the (decidedly vague) notion of CRT at face value. It makes me wonder what we would think about the Christian faith itself, if we only ever listened to its detractors.
The most recent warning I've heard is against Ijeoma Olua's So You Want to Talk About Race? As far as I know, Olua doesn't claim CRT scholarship, but she writes primarily about anti-racism. I got an email with warnings from Christian ministries and Neil Shenvi concerning the book. One specific issue they take with the book is that she says a thing is about race if a person of color says it is. This feeds into the claim that CRT is all about feelings, that it places a higher priority on the subjective experience that on objective truth or statistics. I'm no CRT scholar myself, but in reading some of these anti-racist works, I can definitely say that these authors rely pretty heavily on studies and statistics, while still giving credence to the lived experiences of minorities in our culture. In fact, from what I can tell, a major function of true CRT is to explain the racial differences in legal and economic outcomes, based on the data collected by experts.
Still, the contention is that CRT, and Olua's book by association, wants to elevate the lived experiences of people of color, particularly when it pertains to racism. But what Olua and others are getting at is that Black folks might just live in a different world than white folks, where the rules are written in stone, but somehow not applied in the same way. If that's true, then denying their lived experiences is like a lactose tolerant person telling a lactose intolerant person that their reactions to ice cream are imagined or made up or unimportant. What is really a very nuanced discussion of race gets reduced to the most controversial, cherry-picked statement in the book. And it's not even the most controversial statement in the book; just wait until the penultimate chapter.
To put it another way, consider how Christians often talk about the solution to racism. Those who are willing to accept that it exists, but often limit that existence to individual feelings of animosity towards other races, will often say that we should "just preach the Gospel," pray for changed hearts and minds. One quote from Olua's book reminded me of this approach to racism.