Monday, July 5, 2021

Cleaning House for the 4th of July and the Fireworks of Anti-racism (Prof. Tanya Hernandez)


Let’s be honest – before the pandemic we never cleaned our homes as thoroughly as when we were expecting guests.  Visiting in-laws meant a zenith level of cleaning.  While it might not pass every snooping cousin’s white-glove test, we did our best to create a hospitable environment for fellowship and joy. 

An essential truth of housecleaning is that spraying some temporary floral scent over the smell of a dirty home does not create a congenial environment.  Throwing all our garbage behind a locked closet doesn’t quell the stench either.  Yet these basic tenets of creating and sustaining community are all obliterated by the movement to censor much needed discussion of anti-racism in public schools and spaces.

Anti-Racism Housecleaning


Anti-anti-racism disinformation proponents in a growing number of states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas) have enacted racial and gender equity prohibitions that disallow our teachers from exposing students to our nation’s full history of struggle to be a true egalitarian republic.  And more copycat bills are being introduced across the country as well as congress, under the “trumped up” banner of demonizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) like a boogeyman we should eviscerate.  The concocted vision of CRT as a curse word to erase from public discourse, is like a pungent floral spray that seeks to cover up the bad smell of our histories of racism rather than actually cleaning our way to a better nation.

The tragic irony is that CRT and substantive teaching of all parts of our history, is the best Lysol level disinfectant product that we have for cleansing our nation of the stinking consequences of racism.  Why?  Because CRT goes beyond the traditional interrogation of race and racism that is limited to the image of badly-intentioned individuals.  It instead seeks to reveal and transform the relationship among race, racism and power with an examination of structural and systemic barriers to inclusion for designing effective solutions.  The anti-anti-racism elimination campaign not only wants CRT abolished but also any discussion of racism in our schools and workplace diversity sessions.

Our school teachers know that censorship is detrimental to learning, and that learning is essential for forming an informed citizenry.  As we celebrate the birth of our democracy this July 4th, with joyous gatherings of friends and loved ones, let’s commit to continuing the important work we’ve begun in cleansing the nation of its systemic racism.  This means rejecting the well-funded organized appeals for gag orders on honest discussion and free speech.  Our democracy deserves more than a cheap spritz of floral spray over our dirty laundry.

-- Tanya Hernandez, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham Univ. School of Law; and Author of Forthcoming Book Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality (Beacon Press).

-- This article was originally published at:

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