Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 9, Episode 1 - Critical Race Theory - full transcript

LWT returns for a new season with John talking about critical race theory (CRT), the manufactured panic around it and the protests against it in school board meetings across the U.S. CRT attempts to understand why racism and inequality persisted after the civil rights movement with the underlying idea being that racism is not just the product of individual prejudice but is also something that is embedded in legal systems and policies. Though CRT is not taught in schools, critics argue that the ideas behind it are being taught in schools. By selectively picking out the worst examples from books, classroom lessons and teacher training manuals, anti-CRT activists have managed to create a panic among the American public regarding any conversation about race that one doesn't want to have. This manufactured fear has caused many states to restrict teaching about race and is likely to promote 'school choice', which conservative activists have been pushing since U.S. Supreme court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. John argues that though the debate on CRT is dumb, it is important to engage with it to have honest discussions about race in public schools in the U.S. John also talks about the truckers' protest in Ottawa, Canada against vaccine mandates and COVID restrictions.

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Welcome to "Last Week Tonight".
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you so much for joining us.

We are back, and sadly no time
to go into everything

that we've missed
since we've been away.

We don't even have time to get
into news from this week,

from the Queen getting Covid.

to Putin continuing his whole "will he,
won't he" act about invading Ukraine.

Instead, we're going to start tonight
in Canada.

It is very much the Santa Claus
of countries in that it's jolly,

northern, and absolutely filled
with reindeer jizz.

We're fucking back!

Over the last few weeks,

Canada's capital has had its
downtown besieged by protestors.

Ottawa becomes a global front line
of frustration

over vaccine restrictions.

Hundreds of trucks are blockading
the area around Parliament.

We're sitting here just because we
think we're doing the right thing here.

Here's the thing about that.
Sometimes, sitting in your car

is doing the right thing, like
if you're waiting for your McFlurry,

or dropping off
your kid's baseball glove,

or screaming in a Trader Joe's
parking lot

because that was supposed
to be your one hour alone

and you had to spend it going to get
that fucking glove

even though you asked Brendan three
times if he had it before you left,

and if you don't just sit here for
a minute, you might do a murder!

And look, I will say, broadly, there is
nothing wrong with civil disobedience.

It's often the most powerful way
to bring about change.

But occupying a capital city
for nearly a month over objections

to vaccine mandates for truckers,

especially when both
the Canadian Trucking Alliance

and Ontario Trucking Association
have disavowed the protests,

and "roughly 90% of truck drivers
have received their vaccines",

feels, at best, an over-response.

And it sure seems
like there's more going on here.

Because the protestors
are now demanding

an end to all Covid
restrictions nationwide

and the resignation of Justin Trudeau.

And they've been cheered on
by U.S. conservatives,

with Fox devoting numerous segments
to approving coverage of them,

and one of the convoy's leaders,
Pat King, being interviewed

by Stuart Varney.

But it is worth noting that some
of the organizers of this protest

have strong views about issues
other than Covid mandates.

One of the convoy's de facto
spokespeople has been Tamara Lich,

who has ties to far-right groups
in Canada

and has been a leader
within the Wexit movement,

which I know sounds like the official
campaign to have Westies refuse

to participate in the National Dog Show

after years of being unjustly

but actually refers to a western
separatist movement

that's called "for Canada's prairie
provinces to secede".

And quick, fun side note here, Lich also
sings with a band called Blind Monday.

Would you like to hear them perform?

Well, too fucking bad.
You're going to.

Get up, come on get down
with the sickness,

You mother get up, come on,
get down with the sickness,

You fucker, get up, come on,
get down with the sickness,

Madness is the gift
that's been given to me.

Cool. But I will say this.

It is hard to think of a song more
thematically appropriate to her cause

than "Get Down with the Sickness",

except for, maybe,
"My Heart Will Go On",

in that it's both Canadian
and inextricably linked

with completely avoidable tragedy.

Now, as for Pat King, the guy who
Fox excitedly interviewed,

you don't need to look deep
into his past to find

some pretty inflammatory views.

What there is, is there's an endgame.

It's called depopulation of the
Caucasian race or the Anglo-Saxon.

And that's what the goal is,

is to depopulate
the Anglo-Saxon race

because they are the ones
with the strongest bloodlines.

We'll leave it at that because then
we get into a whole different topic.

Holy shit,
there is a lot going on there.

Not least of which is that you're about
to bring the Anglo-Saxon numbers

down by at least one, Pat,

if you don't keep your eyes
on the fucking road there.

But also, let's just acknowledge,

"strongest bloodline" is a remarkably
bold claim from a man

who looks like someone
is slowly poisoning Guy Fieri.

Now, in recent days, police have
been arresting protestors

and clearing blockades.

So, the protest may actually
be winding down.

But unfortunately, like Covid
and the unvaccinated,

some of the ideas behind it
are massively infectious.

There is talk of a U.S. version
of it happening,

and copycat protests have already
taken place in France, Australia,

and New Zealand,

where they had a novel way
of trying to clear the obstruction.

Lines of vehicles rolled into
New Zealand's capital city last week,

blocking streets near Parliament.

Officials in New Zealand using softer
tactics to get people to move on

playing songs from loudspeakers
like "You're Beautiful",

from James Blunt, and music
from Disney movies,

even Barry Manilow.

Come on, New Zealand.

Playing James Blunt and Barry Manilow
clearly is not going to cut it here.

You're not going to move on people
this angry with the actions

of a bad wedding DJ.

Besides, as we all now know, if you
really want to get a crowd to disperse,

you don't go with Disney
or James Blunt.

Take it from me, you go with the only
song guaranteed to clear a room.

And it's this.

Exactly. 100% successful.
And now, this.

And now, the Existential Despair
of ABC 3 Morning News.

4:30 in the morning.
Let's get this day together.

Good morning, I'm Jared Willets.

That was a lot of pressure,
"let's get this day together".

Let's just get into this day.

Every now and then, Laura,
I wind up in the attic

and there hanging on a post
is my motorcycle jacket.

Classic leather. Classic styling.
I look at it and I sigh.

Chronic pain, my friends, is no joke.
But let's not talk about me.

- Forfeiting.
- Does that sound funny?

You might have to forfeit.
Nobody wants to go that way.

All right.

- How about you, you okay?
- Fine.

What a lovely enclosure they have,
don't you think?

Yeah. Well, you know, even
a pretty cage is a cage, Laura.

Look at that face. You may start
your Wednesday now with a smile.

- Baby animals.
- I'm smiling.

I always like it when you
ignore me, Laura. That's nice.

- That is, isn't it?
- Yeah, I like it.

People at home like it as well.

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns school.

It's the only setting in which a child
dissecting a frog

is not an immediate red flag.

We teach kids a lot in school,

from reading, to long division,

to how to play the fucking recorder
for some reason.

But recently, there's been a lot
of concern over one particular thing

that people worry kids are learning.

Critical race theory is being taught
in our schools.

Critical race theory is bunk.

Critical race theory is a lie.
From the first word to the last.

Racist critical race theory.

Critical race theory in the schools
and the wokeness.

Let me tell you right now,
critical race theory is bigoted,

it is a lie,
and it is every bit as racist

as the Klansmen in white sheets.

I do not like that Ted Cruz man.

I do not like him shouting "Klan".

I do not like him in a room.
I do not like him in Cancun.

I do not like him playing ball.
I do not like his face at all.

I wish he'd lose his cushy job.

That man Ted Cruz is a fucking knob.

But here's the thing, it is true,

you have probably heard people yelling
about critical race theory on TV

for more than a year now.

And people have been listening
to that noise,

especially judging by what's been
happening at school board meetings

across the country.

- Resign!
- Resign, cowards!

The western culture and values
that brought forth Christianity

and the founding documents
are being called evil and racist.

I am not co-parenting
with the government.

It is not your job to force
these ideas onto my child.

The narrative in this country
is that we're all inherently racist,

and I'm about sick of it.

It's a Marxist ideology
and we all know it.

All these lessons have the intent
to make our children feel disgust

towards our nation.

This country isn't even
a racist country.

We elected Obama for two terms.

Wait, hold on.

America can't be racist
because of Obama?

I don't know if you remember
the 2008 election,

but things got pretty racist back then.

People kept saying he was born
in Kenya,

people said he was a secret Muslim,
and then a few years later,

we elected that people president.

So, let's just agree to disagree
on that one, shall we?

That first meeting was
in Loudoun County, Virginia,

and it got so out of hand
that the meeting was shut down early,

and one guy passionately railing
against CRT was arrested

for trespassing, only to pop up
on Tucker Carlson the very next day.

So clearly, a lot of people are getting
very mad about critical race theory.

And instinctively, you probably know
it's a manufactured panic.

But the fact is, the fear around it
is having real effects.

Last year, Glenn Youngkin won
the governor's race in Virginia,

after repeatedly promising that
on his first day in office,

he'd ban CRT
from being taught in schools.

Multiple states have passed laws
outlawing the teaching of it.

And Republicans are likely to make it
a major focus of the midterms.

When it comes to critical race theory,
think of it like Rihanna's pregnancy.

Even if you think it has nothing to do
with you, believe me,

you're going to be hearing
a lot about it this year.

So, given that, we thought tonight,
we'd take a step back

and look at what critical race theory
is and isn't,

why the panic around it has spread,

and what the consequences might be
for everyone involved.

And I realize some of you may
already know what CRT is.

After all, explainers on it have become
one of the most common sights

on the internet, along
with mediocre Wordle scores,

and ugly monkey JPEGs sold by
and for dipshits.

But many are still very confused.

A recent survey found that an
overwhelming majority of U.S. residents

have a hard time articulating
exactly what CRT is.

And that even goes for some of those
who've been yelling about it.

I've never figured out what critical
race theory is, to be totally honest,

after a year of talking about it.

They're teaching that some races
are morally superior to others,

that some are inherently sinful
and some are inherently saintly

and that's immoral to teach that
'cause it's wrong.

I don't know if I've ever seen a person
confidently complain about something

just seconds after admitting
they didn't know shit about it.

Look, I've never figured out how
a car engine works, to be honest,

but there's a chimpanzee
under the hood turning a crank

and when you press the accelerator
it pokes him with a sharp stick

and makes him crank faster,

and it's immoral to do that
because it's wrong.

But obviously, that is not
what critical race theory is.

It's the name given to a body
of legal scholarship

that began in the 1970s that attempted
to understand why racism

and inequality persisted
after the civil rights movement.

The core idea is that racism is not
merely the product of individual bias

or prejudice, but also something
that is embedded in legal systems

and policies.

As for Tucker's notion that it teaches
that some races are superior

or, that parents claim that it teaches
kids to hate America,

none of that is remotely true.

As Kimberle Crenshaw, one
of CRT's leading scholars, points out.

Critical race theory just says let's pay
attention to what has happened

in this country,

and how what has happened in this
country is continuing to create

differential outcomes
so we can become that country

that we say we are.

So, critical race theory
is not antipatriotic.

In fact, it is more patriotic
than those who are opposed to it.

Because we believe in the 13th,
and the 14th, and the 15th Amendment.

We believe in the promises of equality,
and we know we can't get there

if we can't confront and talk honestly
about inequality.

Yeah, she's right. And incidentally,

if you just found yourself there

what the 13th, 14th, and 15th
Amendments are,

that alone might be a good sign we don't
talk about this stuff in schools enough.

And to be clear, CRT
is graduate-level legal theory,

so unless your five- year-old
is currently pursuing a law degree,

they're not reading Kimberle Crenshaw.

But critics of it argue that the ideas
behind CRT are being taught

in schools, and often present
a hyperbolically distorted version

of what those ideas are.

And a key person here is this man,

a conservative activist
named Christopher Rufo.

He claims CRT is actually
"a revolutionary program"

"that would overturn the principles
of the Declaration"

"and destroy the remaining structure
of the Constitution",

which it just isn't. It isn't that.

But in the wake
of the George Floyd protests,

just as America was beginning
to grapple with systemic racism,

Fox News began featuring Rufo
on-air a lot

as part of their efforts to swing
that pendulum back, hard.

And in one appearance, he pointed
to diversity trainings in government

as evidence of CRT's influence,

and he spoke directly to President
Trump through the camera

about what he wanted to see happen.

The president at the White House,
it's within their authority and power

to immediately issue
an executive order

abolishing critical race theory
trainings from the federal government.

I call on the president to immediately
issue this executive order

and stamp out this destructive,
divisive, pseudoscientific ideology

at its root.

Now, did Trump see that? I dunno,
is the Pope a Catholic?

Is the reason Big died the fact that
Carrie didn't call 911 fast enough?

The answer to all those questions
is yes, and also,

she was right not to do it.
No big loss.

Because Mark Meadows,
Trump's chief of staff,

has since revealed President Trump
saw that interview,

and when Rufo said, "I call on the
president to immediately issue"

"this executive order," quote,
"that's what we did".

Which is weird! There should
be more steps than that.

It shouldn't just go "one, yell
your wish at the president,"

then "two, it happens".

Ideally, you want an executive branch
that's a little more complicated

than fucking Siri.

And with that, CRT, or, crucially,
Rufo's definition of it,

was suddenly absolutely everywhere.

Fox News kept pushing it, mentioning
the term "critical race theory"

nearly 5000 times last year alone.

And the network zeroed in
on its supposed use in schools,

with Rufo telling Fox's audience
that CRT has "really become"

"the default ideology of the public
education system".

And what Rufo has been cleverly doing
is cherry-picking the worst examples

that he can find of lessons
in classrooms or training materials

for teachers, and saying,
"that is CRT".

And he's openly admitted
that he's been engaged

in a deliberate branding exercise,

tweeting, "we have successfully frozen
their brand, critical race theory,"

"into the public conversation"

"and are steadily driving up
negative perceptions".

"The goal is to have the public read
something crazy in the newspaper"

"and immediately think
critical race theory".

And the thing is,
it fucking worked.

Because whenever you hear CRT now,

you are not hearing about
the academic discipline.

You're hearing about a category
so broad,

it encompasses both the craziest thing
in the newspaper

and also, crucially, any conversation
about race

that someone does not want to have.

And look, I am not saying discussing
race in a classroom is easy,

or even always done well.

Experts in this field
will readily admit that.

Now, have you seen bad
implementations of this?

Of course.

That's like asking, have I seen
a bad math lesson, right?

Yes, teachers are humans, especially
as we're trying to figure out

how to teach about race and racism.

Exactly. Teachers are human
and can make mistakes.

Frankly, I'm surprised
they don't make more.

They wake up insanely early and spend
all day getting low-key roasted

by teenagers for an amount of money
best described as completely harrowing.

The very fact any student in America
knows what a covalent bond is,

is a fucking miracle,

and every adult involved deserves
the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And the fact is, you can find examples
of clumsy, shitty lessons.

One school used a privilege bingo card,

which sure seems like a glib way
to handle a very serious subject.

Another classic lesson over
the years has been to teach

about prejudice metaphorically,
by dividing a classroom up by eye color,

with brown-eyed people, for instance,
being the lowest tier,

and them being treated terribly.

And if you do that
in a diverse classroom

and think that for even a second about
who is more likely to have brown eyes,

you can probably immediately see
just how badly that lesson could go.

That actually happened in at least
one school in the Chicago area,

and the reason I know that is that
this kid was in the class that day,

and she's one of our writers now.

Ali, what did you think of that lesson?

It was pretty fucked up

Yeah, I bet it was!

But the fact is, many educators
are working very hard

to find age-appropriate ways to talk
about race and racism in the classroom.

And if you do it right, you don't stop
at the civil rights movement,

you tell the story all the way
to the present day.

Which kids want and need.

They have questions about what
they can see with their own eyes,

and they deserve good answers.

And it is frankly far better for them
to have these discussions

in a supportive educational

rather than the potential alternative,

during a screaming match
at Thanksgiving.

But the panic over CRT threatens
to shut those conversations down.

And that is not all it is likely to do.

Because some pushing this panic
the hardest are actually using it

to advance a much bigger agenda that
they've wanted for a very long time,

and that is school choice, basically,
letting parents take tax dollars

afforded to the public schooling
of their kid and use them

at any school they like.

Here is Chris Rufo again,
laying out that exact strategy.

First, we have to just get it out
of schools.

We have to ban it and abolish it.

But in the long term, what we need to
do is give every parent in this country

a right to exit failing institutions.

No child should be trapped in a failing
public school that violates

his sense of conscience, that violates
the values of the parents.

Every parent
should take those education dollars

anywhere that they wish.

School choice will liberate people.
It will empower people

and it will actually depolarize some
of these national fights.

So you're doing all of this to tone
down partisan fights, are you, Chris?

Very cool of you. You've probably
noticed that general wave of calm,

chill vibes sweeping the nation lately.

If there is one word I would use
to describe every image coming out

of a school board meeting these days,
it is depolarized.

Look, it is not just Rufo.

Conservative organizations that
have long pushed for school choice,

like The Heritage Foundation
and FreedomWorks,

have poured money into this fight.

And of course, no school
choice push would be complete

without lifelong rich person and
occasional education secretary

Betsy DeVos,
who wrote an op-ed titled,

"Let's liberate kids from race
indoctrination with school choice".

And you should know,
this is just nothing new.

There is a long history
of responding to racial panic

with a push for school choice.

In fact, the roots of the school
choice movement trace back

to the Brown v. Board of Education

when Southern states adopted voucher
programs to facilitate the creation

of private schools called
segregation academies.

And some of those taking advantage
of school choice today

sure seem to be doing some heavy
indoctrination of their own.

Take Florida. It is one of the states
that allows public money

to go to voucher schools,
and a few years back,

an investigation into some of them
found commonly used textbooks

that downplayed the horrors
of slavery.

One of them is this one,
"America: Land I Love",

which has all the kind of bullshit
that you would expect,

that the Civil War was fought
for states' rights.

But it also states that,
during the antebellum period,

"the slave who knew Christ had
more freedom than a free person"

"who did not know the Savior."

Which is not just offensive,
it is profoundly stupid.

Any kid reading that absolute
trombone slide of a sentence

would instantly drop two full grades.

It sounds less like something
you'd find in a textbook

and more like something you'd find
crocheted on a throw pillow

in Paula Deen's living room.

So, if you want to talk about racial
indoctrination of school kids,

this might be a better place to start.

But the thing is, even
a manufactured panic is a panic.

Those parents at school board
meetings are genuinely angry.

And as any little league coach knows,

once you reach a critical mass
of angry white parents,

there will be consequences.

In Texas, this high school principal
was forced out of his job,

after being accused at a school
board meeting of promoting CRT

by someone who wasn't even
a parent at his school.

And in Tennessee, this current affairs
teacher was fired for not giving

"varying points of view" after he gave
students a Ta-Nehisi Coates article

and showed them Kyla Jenee
Lacey's poem "White Privilege".

And he actually had a pretty decent
response to that criticism.

I think, to me, the varying viewpoint
is Kyla Jenee Lacey,

and is Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Those are perspectives that
my students aren't exposed to

on a daily basis because we live

in that white dominant
evangelical environment.

Right. When you live in a mostly
white environment,

the voices of Black people can be
the varying point of view.

And not just on current events,

on lots of things that white people
might otherwise assume,

even trivial ones, like, "it's okay
to go out in a blizzard in shorts",

and, "if I argue with this cop,
I can probably get out of a ticket",

and, "time travel would be a fun
and stress-free activity".

"The 1930s!
I can't wait to look around!"

Unfortunately, though, those situations
are likely to become more common.

Since January of last year,
37 states have introduced bills

or taken other steps that would restrict
teaching critical race theory

or limit how teachers
can discuss racism.

And the justification for these has
often been more than a little flimsy.

Here is one Tennessee lawmaker

why he was pushing for his state's bill.

Listen to the following quotes
from an email forwarded to me

concerning a seven-year-old girl
in Williamson County.

The little girl told her mother:
"I'm ashamed that I'm white."

The daughter then asked her mother,

"Is there something wrong with me?
Why am I hated so much?"

Okay, I hear that, I really do.

The thing to do in that situation isn't
to pass a law limiting the discussion

of race in the classroom. It's to ask
literally one follow-up question.

Like, "What was happening to make
you think the other kids hate you?"

Or, "Did any adults step in
when you felt this way?"

Or, "Do you even exist?"

Because you should know,
when reporters looked into this,

they found no parent had come forward
to that school's principal, teachers,

or district officials
with that complaint,

and administrators there weren't able
to pinpoint any student

who might be upset or lessons
that could have been upsetting.

And if that is how
we are arguing things now,

I should probably mention that, I, too,
just so happen to have an email forward

from a different little white girl,

way cuter than the first one,
by the way,

who said that that first girl's story
is complete bullshit.

And the thing is, by Tennessee law, it
seems, I simply have to believe her.

But that lawmaker actually illustrates
the problems facing legislators

currently trying to outlaw something
that they cannot define.

Because what are you then
going to do?

Pass a law saying kids
can't feel bad?

Well, it turns out, yes. Because that
is exactly what Tennessee did.

They passed a law prohibiting
any teaching

that would cause "discomfort,
guilt, anguish,"

"or distress solely because
of the individual's race or sex".

Which is very broad.

You're not going to believe this,
but I just received another email

this second from a third Tennessee
white girl who says:

"What fucking idiots
are writing these laws"

"and how many fictitious children are
they going to make up to justify them?"

"PS: I honestly preferred
the new Zazu."

And wow! What a nice thing to say
from a definitely real child!

And look, the thing is, we have
talked before on this show

about the multiple problems
with teaching kids

a sanitized version of U.S. history,

and how, as far back as a century ago,

groups like the United Daughters
of the Confederacy were reshaping

textbooks to downplay its horrors.

And it seems here we go again,
I guess.

Because lawmakers are trying
to micromanage school curriculums,

sometimes pretty ineptly.

A bill proposed in Virginia contains
a section listing

some of the founding documents
that it's okay to teach,

a list that includes the Declaration
of Independence, the Constitution,

and the first debate between Abraham
Lincoln and Frederick Douglass,

which, I hope you know,
is not a thing that happened.

The Lincoln-Douglas debates were,
of course,

between Senator Stephen Douglas
and his opponent,

a 2020 Lincoln Navigator.
So, read your history, everyone.

Facts matter here.

But maybe the most insulting distortion
of history is in the quote

that every single anti-CRT activist
seems to love to invoke.

You think about what MLK stood for,

he said he didn't want people
judged on the color of their skin,

but on the content of their character.

I believe it was Martin Luther King
that said,

when he was talking about
his children that...

He didn't want his children
to be judged...

On the color of their skin.

But by the content of their character.

Content of their character,
not by the color of their skin.

Content of our character,
not the color of our skin.

And the immortal words of Dr. Martin
Luther King ring in our ears...

We must judge others not
by the color of their skin,

but by the content
of their character.

The left wants us to constantly focus
on skin color. It's destructive.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is rolling over
in his grave.

Yeah, you know what,
I bet he is, actually.

In fact, I'm pretty sure every time
someone uses his words that way,

Dr. King's illustrious remains
spin fast enough to power

the eastern fucking seaboard.

Here is the thing, though, that dream
speech was clearly

an aspirational goal, not a description
of things as they stood.

And in fact, King himself later
put a pretty major asterisk on it.

I must confess that that dream
that I had that day

has at many points turned
into a nightmare.

And I've come to see that we have
many more difficult days ahead,

and some of the old optimism
was a little superficial,

and now it must be tempered
with a solid realism.

Yeah, exactly. And in a book
published that same year,

he wrote that, while "the majority of
white Americans consider themselves"

"sincerely committed to justice
for the Negro,"

"and they believe that American society
is essentially hospitable to fair play"

"and to steady growth toward
a middle-class utopia"

"embodying racial harmony".

"Unfortunately, this is a fantasy
of self-deception"

"and comfortable vanity."

So, while it is clearly very appealing
to create a version of history

where MLK was a kind figure
who existed solely to help white people

win arguments, the truth is,

he later reflected on his own message
and challenged white people

to look more deeply at themselves.

And that is something that kids should
absolutely be learning about in school.

But the problem is,
they won't if these laws continue.

A white parent could plausibly claim
that reading MLK's writing

made their child feel discomfort
on the basis of their race.

And some of these laws seem designed
to bend schools' curriculums

to the sensibilities of the most
conservative, alarmed parents.

In Florida, Ron DeSantis is pushing
a Stop Woke Act,

that was him unveiling it just
a minute ago, with Chris Rufo

right behind him.

And that would give parents private
right of action to sue

if they think their kids
are being taught CRT.

And all of these laws are already
having chilling effects.

Book bans are on the rise
around the country,

and one Oklahoma school district
has even told teachers

simply to avoid using terms like
"diversity" and "white privilege".

You can ban all the books you want.

You can try and legislate it away,

but as any Black woman
on "The Bachelor" can tell you,

talking about race is unavoidable.

And it is not just unavoidable,
it's essential,

especially in the places where people
are most panicked about CRT.

And this actually brings us all the way
back to where this story began,

in Loudoun County, Virginia,

where that school board meeting
got so very far out of hand.

Here is one of the leaders
of the anti-CRT push there,

explaining just why she is so fiercely
opposed to it being taught.

In Loudoun County, this is the
wealthiest county in the country.

There's not a lot of racism.

There are silly people that say
stupid things,

but if you talk about it less, you're
going to notice that division less.

I don't look at the person based
on their skin color,

I look at them based on their character.

Okay, so, there's a lot of obvious
red flags there,

from confidently asserting "there's not
a lot of racism here"

to the "I don't see skin color,"

to the "you won't notice division so
much if you just don't talk about it".

If the problem with racism
in America was only

"it's bumming Patti Menders out",

then yeah, shutting up would
probably solve the whole issue.

But guess how long it takes for that
conversation to take a real turn.

I think there are probably plenty
of people that would agree

with exactly that.

But just to be fair on
the other side, there are people,

especially young Black men,
for example, who would say,

"I would love to not be judged
on the color of my skin".

Do you think it's more on the color
of their skin or their actions?

How they're dressed, how they
perceive, how they respect others?

If you have a kid that's pulled over
by a cop,

does it really matter
what color they are,

or is it the respect that they give
to that police officer?

When you respond to someone
mentioning young Black men would like

to be treated better by automatically
envisioning them dressed terribly

and acting disrespectfully while
being arrested by the police,

you are telling on yourself, Patti.

You are snitching on your very soul.

And as for her claim there that there
is "not a lot of racism"

in Loudoun County, you probably
already assumed that that was bullshit,

but you should know, an assessment
of public schools there found

that it was shocking the extent to which
students report the use of the N-word.

As a society, we've now agreed white
people should not be using

the N-word a shocking
number of times,

unless, that is, they have a lucrative
podcast deal with Spotify.

But that is absolutely it.

And all of this brings us
to the main point here,

that for all the laws being passed
to prevent discomfort or anguish

on account of an individual's race,

whose discomfort, exactly,
are we prioritizing here?

Because kids of color can tell you

they don't get a choice to not talk
about race

and have it go away, like this graduate
of Loudoun County schools.

I do understand that many parents don't
want their children learning about race

at such a young age, but I beg to differ
in that sense.

We learn about race every day
when we're the only colored kid

in our classrooms, or when
we're learning about slavery

and all the heads turn to us.

So, one way or another,

one group of students will learn
about race before another.

We believe that it would be equitable
if all students learned about race

in the same context, so we can work
together on it to improve our future.

Yeah. Children of color learn about
race from a very young age.

From realizing you celebrate different
holidays or get different safety talks,

or the first time you go
to a white friend's house

and you're served a casserole.

You realize very quickly in that moment,
we are different people

with different cultures.

So, look, by this point,
it should be pretty clear,

the debate around critical race theory
is both very loud and very, very dumb.

But unfortunately,
it is important to engage with it.

Because if we don't,

the endpoint that we are heading toward
is that honest discussions of race

will be shut out of public schools,

even as some parents fuck off
to voucher academies

where their kids can learn a version
of history

that's basically antebellum fan fiction.

And I am not saying that discussions
on race will always be comfortable

for everyone in a classroom,

but when was learning and growing
as a person ever really comfortable?

The thing to do here isn't to run
from those discussions

or pass laws banning them.

It is to learn how to have
them better.

Because for generation after generation,
we've told school kids fairy tales

about race in this country.

And maybe it's time
we stop doing that.

Because all it's done so far is get us
to the point that we're at right now,

with full-grown adults insisting
America can't be racist

because we elected Obama twice,

that racism will go away
if we just don't mention it,

and that Martin Luther King's
"I Have a Dream" speech

wasn't an aspiration
we have yet to fulfill,

but some kind of magic spell that
ended prejudice then and there.

That is our show, thank
you so much for watching,

we'll see you next week, goodnight.

John, I've got more stories.

In third grade, we did
an Oregon Trail unit

and my teacher put me and the other
Black kid in the class together

and said we were a family
of freed slaves

heading west to make our fortune.

Like, what am I supposed
to do with that?

In sixth grade, I told my teacher

that reading "Roll of Thunder, Hear
My Cry" made me uncomfortable,

and she told me,
"It all works out in the end".

In the end, one of the characters
almost gets lynched.

How is "almost gets lynched"
a happy ending?

For Ellis Island Day, I said,
"My family didn't emigrate,"

"and we don't know
where in Africa we're from."

And my teacher said, "Well, guess."
And I was like, "Bitch, you guess."

There are only two Black kids
in the whole class,

and we were the freed slaves
going west? Okay...