Last update July 21, 2021
"Critical race theory is a practice. It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it," said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding critical race theorist and a law professor who teaches at UCLA and Columbia University. --CNN
If you don't like the definition supplied by one of the founders of CRT, then maybe you should ask State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-TN), who says that he knows what critical race theory because he was taught all about it in law school. According to Kelsey, critical race theory "teaches that American democracy is a lie. It teaches that the rule of law does not exist and is instead a series of power struggles among racial groups."
Not to be outdone in the Republican race for the dumbest, anti-factual definition, Governor Ricketts (NE) said this in response to a caller asking for a definition of critical race theory:
So, the critical race theory — and I can’t think of the author right off the top of my head who wrote about this — really had a theory that, at the high level, is one that really starts creating those divisions between us about defining who we are based on race and that sort of thing and really not about how to bring us together as Americans rather than — and dividing us and also having a lot of very socialist-type ideas about how that would be implemented in our state.
Kelsey's lies and Ricketts' pathetic word salad would be amusing if it weren't for the fact that the goal of white supremacists has much less to do with critical race theory than it does to 1) censoring the factual presentation of history in schools and the media, and 2) using intimidation to force teachers, school boards, and administrators into self-censoring with regards to the teaching of fact-based history and the discussion of race and racism in the classroom.
It is critical for teachers and their unions to continue rejecting the kind of propagandized and sanitized versions of history that neo-confederate politicians and their billionaire fascist funders prefer to offer school children and college students.
As noted in Part 1, the slavery empire in the United States was built one law at time. Many of those laws were written and passed in Virginia (see Pt. 1 for important laws from the 1600s).
Beginning in 1705, however, the Virginia Assembly passed and the Governor approved the Virginia Slave Codes, which set forth an unambiguous legal justification for slavery. Hoping to avoid potential revolts that might accrue from alliances between poor whites and black slaves, the Slave Codes may be seen as an attempt to assuage oppressed whites by providing, if nothing else, a legal foundation for white supremacy and black inferiority.
Were the ancestors of today's bedraggled trailer park Tories those impoverished whites whose loyalty was bought by elites in 1705 with the legal promise and protections of white privilege??
By 1705, British settlers had lived in Virginia for almost 100 years. In the initial years of settlement, indentured servitude was widespread, African slavery was relatively uncommon, and race relations between blacks and whites were ambiguous, though not entirely equal. In the second half of the seventeenth century, however, the Chesapeake colonies transitioned to an economy dominated increasingly by slave labor. Virginia’s slave population grew from 150 in 1640, to nearly 3,000 in 1680, and by 1700 to13,000—one sixth of the colony’s population. This transition occurred because: (1) the supply of indentured servants in Virginia dropped as England offered more economic opportunities for its poor; 2) England established more colonies in North America, which diverted some immigrants away from Virginia; and (3) wealthy Virginia planters feared an alliance of poor whites and black slaves. White-black coalitions were an ever-present threat to the planters—Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 had made that clear.
As the slave population increased, so did the legal controls on slaves’ behavior and power, culminating in the extensive law of 1705. The Virginia Slave code mandated an inferior racial and legal status for blacks while simultaneously elevating opportunities for poor whites. Passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses, these laws denied blacks the traditional rights of Englishmen, including freedom of association, assembly, bearing arms, expression, and mobility, as well as protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The laws forbade non-whites from holding ecclesiastical, civil, or military office regardless of their status. Interestingly, the slave code also reinforced a tradition already prevalent in Virginia in which the children born of slave mothers would also be slaves. In effect, this made slavery . . . permanent and absolved white male planters from any punishment for the sexual exploitation of their female slaves. In numerous ways, this was a clear effort by whites in Virginia to consolidate power and perpetuate the institution of slavery.
Be it enacted, by the governor, council, and burgesses, of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same,
- That all servants brought into this country without indenture, if the said servants be Christians and of Christian parentage, and above nineteen years of age, shall serve but five years; and if under nineteen years of age, ‘till they shall become twenty-four years of age, and no longer. . . .
- That all servants imported and brought into this country by sea or land, who were not Christians in their native country, (except Turks and Moors in amity with her majesty, and others that can make due proof of their being free in England, or any other Christian country, before they were shipped, in order to transportation hither) shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to Christianity afterwards. . . .
- That all masters and owners of servants shall find and provide for their servants wholesome and competent diet, clothing, and lodging, by the discretion of the county court; and shall not, at any time, give immoderate correction [excessive punishment]; neither shall at any time whip a Christian white servant naked without an order from a justice of the peace. . . .
- That all servants (not being slaves,) whether imported or become servants of their own accord here, or bound by any court or church-wardens, shall have their complaints received by a justice of the peace, who, if he find cause, shall bind the master over to answer the complaint at court. . .
- That no negros, mulattos, or Indians, although Christians, or Jews, Moors, Mahometans [Muslims], or other infidels shall at any time purchase any Christian servant, nor any other, except of their own complexion or such as are declared slaves by this act. . . .
- That there shall be paid and allowed to every imported servant, not having yearly wages, at the time of service ended, by the master or owner of such servant, viz: To every male servant, ten bushels of Indian corn, thirty shillings in money, or the value thereof in goods, and one well fixed musket or fuzee, of the value of twenty shillings, at least: and to every woman servant, fifteen bushels of Indian corn and forty shillings in money, or the value thereof in goods . . . .
- That in all cases of penal laws, whereby persons free are punishable by fine, servants shall be punished by whipping, after the rate of twenty lashes for every five hundred pounds of tobacco, or fifty shillings current money, unless the servant so culpable can and will procure some person or persons to pay the fine; in which case, the said servant shall be adjudged to serve such benefactor after the time by indenture, custom, or order of court, to his or her then present master or owner, shall be expired. . . .
- That whatsoever English or other white man or woman, being free, shall intermarry with a negro or mulatto man or woman, bond or free, shall by judgment of the county court be committed to prison and there remain during the space of six months, without bail or main prize; and shall forfeit and pay ten pounds current money of Virginia, to the use of the parish. .
- And if any slave resist his master or owner or other person, by his or her order, correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction, it shall not be accounted felony; but the master, owner, and every such other person so giving correction shall be free and acquit of all punishment and accusation for the same, as if such accident had never happened; And also, if any negro, mulatto, or Indian, bond or free, shall at any time lift his or her hand in opposition against any Christian, not being negro, mulatto, or Indian, he or she so offending shall, for every such offence proved by the oath of the party, receive on his or her bare back thirty lashes, well laid on; cognizable by a justice of the peace for that county wherein such offense shall be committed. . . .
- That no slave go armed with gun, sword, club, staff, or other weapon, nor go from off the plantation and seat of land where such slave shall be appointed to live, without a certificate of leave in writing for so doing from his or her master, mistress, or overseer: And if any slave shall be found offending herein, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to apprehend and deliver such slave to the next constable or head-borough, who is hereby enjoined and required, without further order or warrant, to give such slave twenty lashes on his or her bare back, well laid on, and so send him or her home. . .
- That baptism of slaves does not exempt them from bondage; and that all children shall be bond or free, according to the condition of their mothers, and the particular directions of this act.
- Source: http://www.historianstevecampbell.com/uploads/4/4/6/5/44657359/virginia_slave_code_1705.pdf
Inspired by Virginia Slave Codes, Massachusetts passed its own version of a law to prohibit both marriage and fornication between whites and blacks. Notice that Massachusetts lawmakers eliminated the ban on fornication in 1786, thus protecting white officials from the threat of arrest. At the same time, MA legislators extended the ban on marriage to include Indians.