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Dean Johnson, fellow UC law deans reject White House stance on critical race theory

News Posted on September 14, 2020

Dean Kevin R. Johnson joined the deans from other University of California law schools in defending critical race theory in light of attacks by President Donald Trump and the Office of Management and Budget.

Their joint statement reads, in part:

“On September 4, the Director of the Office Management and Budget, at the direction of the President, banned any training within the federal government related to Critical Race Theory, calling it ‘anti-American propaganda.’ The OMB memorandum equates Critical Race Theory to two inaccurate and wildly oversimplified tenets: (1) that the United States is ‘an inherently racist or evil country’ and (2) that white people are ‘inherently racist or evil.’ This characterization reduces a sophisticated, dynamic field, interdisciplinary and global in scope, to two simplistic absurdities.  In fact, a central principle of Critical Race Theory is that there is nothing ‘inherent’ about race.  Rather, CRT invites us to confront with unflinching honesty how race has operated in our history and our present, and to recognize the deep and ongoing operation of ‘structural racism,’ through which racial inequality is reproduced within our economic, political, and educational systems even without individual racist intent. 

We cannot stand silent in the face of the OMB’s absurd claim that Critical Race Theory is ‘contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the federal government.’ CRT is most assuredly not contrary to what we stand for. The intellectual value of Critical Race Theory is something we experience every day, through the brilliance of the numerous CRT scholars whom we are proud to call our colleagues. The work of these scholars has shaped legislation, court cases, programs, and policies. Indeed, much of their work is precisely what we would hope that federal employees would receive training about. If employees learned about the theory of intersectionality, it might help them understand why Black women face a larger wage gap than either white women or Black men, and help motivate federal programs that try to address the disparities they face. When federal employees learn about the dangers of and the pervasiveness of implicit bias, it can spur improved processes and fairer decisions about who gets a job or receives a federal contract. 

We also see, every day, the ways our students benefit from the learning and the teaching of Critical Race Theory as part of their education. Many of our students who go on to public service, or who dedicate themselves deeply to pro bono work, or who work in profound ways to make the world and the legal system more truly equal, do so having been deeply inspired by the critical race scholars from whom they have had the opportunity to learn at our law schools.”

Read the full statement