Yesterday Joy Reid had Christopher Rufo on her show for, well…you can’t call it a discussion. It was more of a lecture in which Reid used her control of the format as host to repeatedly cut Rufo off and refuse to let him get a word out.
It started with Reid saying she’d reached out to Ibram Kendi, who Rufo has criticized as a leading CRT proponent. Kendi provided a statement to Reid saying, “I admire critical race theory, but I don’t identify as a critical race theorist.”
Later Reid would say the same about White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo: “She’s not a critical race theorist.” And just like that I guess we’re supposed to ignore the obvious connections between what the leading anti-racism trainers are teaching and CRT.
Then Reid did the same thing with intersectionality, the theory created by Critical Race Theory proponent Kimberle Crenshaw. When Rufo said intersectionality was part of CRT. Reid again talked over him saying, “Intersectionality is a separate thing.”
“Which is part of critical race theory,” Rufo replied.
“No it’s not, dear,” Reid condescended.
On this last point, just today Slate published a transcript of an interview with Ibram Kendi in which he a) said his definitions of racism and antiracist were based on intersectionality and then said that intersectionality was “one of the critical components of critical race theory.” Here’s the exchange, the audio of which was originally published on June 11: [emphasis added]
S1: Would you consider yourself to be a critical race theorists who are critical race theories out there that people should be aware of? Because the way the right is trying to define it now, any person black, brown, white, queer, Asian, whatever, who says anything other than America is the greatest country on the face of the planet is apparently a critical race there.
S2: So I’ve certainly been inspired by my critical race theory and critical race theorists, the way in which I’ve formulated definitions of of racism and racist and anti-racism and Antiracist have not only been based on historical sort of evidence, but also Kimberle Crenshaw intersectional theory, which is she’s one of the founding and pioneering critical race theorists who who in the late 1980s and early 1990s said, you know what, black women aren’t just facing racism. They’re not just facing sexism. They’re facing the intersection of racism and sexism. And it’s important for us to understand that. And that’s foundational to to my work.
S1: Dr. Kendi, your area of expertise, the way that most of America in general has gotten to know you as the person who is teaching us how to be Antiracist, and you say that you’ve been inspired by a lot of critical race theory. Is it possible to be Antiracist without studying critical race theory? Like is there a shortcut? Can you be an Antiracist by just being a nice person or do you really need to steep yourself in some of these structural things in order to be Antiracist?
S2: I think it’s I mentioned, for instance, the way in which intersectional theory, which is one of the critical components of critical race theory, is foundational to to to being Antiracist. And and and so I just I can’t imagine a pathway to being Antiracist that does not engage critical race theory. I mean, critical race theorists specifically over the last 40 years have been so foundational to providing a structural analysis of race and racism, which is to be Antiracist is to have that structural analysis.
Does Kendi not know what intersectionality is? Because he’s saying the same thing as Christopher Rufo was saying, i.e. that intersectionality is a critical component of CRT. Maybe Joy Reid should can call up Kendi again and tell him “No it’s not, dear” in her most condescending tone. I’d pay to see that on MSNBC.
The bigger point here is that Critical Race Theory has evolved beyond being a narrow field of legal studies into something that, through people like Kendi and DiAngelo and many others is having an impact on the broader culture. Wagging your finger pedantically doesn’t refute that fact that those connections exist. Whatever you want to call what Kendi and DiAngelo are, there are connections to CRT in their work. As Kendi said, there’s no pathway to antiracism of the kind he promotes which doesn’t also engage CRT.
Rufo probably thought he could go on this show and have an actual discussion like the one he had with Marc Lamont Hill. I said at the time that discussion was pretty good and I stick by that. By contrast, this rude harangue by Joe Reid in which she calls Rufo a liar before he’s even said anything is just the opposite.