Critical Race Theory — and its kissing cousins “Diversity Equity and Inclusion” and “Social Emotional Learning” — were hot topics of conversation at a Kansas Legislature Special Education Committee meeting Wednesday.
During the hearing, Penn ran down the theoretical underpinnings of CRT, from Fredrich Hegel, to Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and the Frankfurt School, all the way to Barack Obama mentor — and father of CRT Derrick Bell — to more modern proponents such as Robin DiAngelo and Ibrahim X. Kendi.
“The bottom line upfront,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “It’s not about critical race theory. What it’s about is socialism and Marxism, cultural Marxism. If you examine all of these things, they all go to one route. And that is to create dissension, a division, and declension away from the moorings of our society, I’m sure in society, so that we can have a revolution in a culture that people are more susceptible then to bring on the economic revolution as well.”
The Sentinel has found ample evidence of CRT being taught — disguised by other names — in Kansas schools.
“They told us that it was not being taught,” Penn said. “They told me, (Wichita Public Schools Public Affairs Director) Terrell Davis said that to my face, with (Rep.) Kristi Williams present. (He) told us that it was not being taught, gave us the party line, that it is just an obscure legal theory.”
Penn, however, was prepared for the party line in his testimony and had printouts of pages from the Wichita Public School’s Website about Equity, Diversity, and Accountability — pages which have since been scrubbed.
“I went up and blew it all apart,” Penn said. “Talked about exactly what CRT is. Gave the real definition of it and the real lineage of it.
“They deleted all of the evidence off the website. But we already downloaded it and printed it off. We exposed them as liars.”
Penn noted that it is — technically — correct that there are no classes entitled “CRT” that little Johnny may be signed up for, but that does not mean it is not being taught.
“CRT is not the fish in the tank,” Penns said. “CRT is not the fish, it is not the fish food, it is not the water, it is not the plants. It’s not the rocks. CRT is the air in the air filter.”
Divisive and creating separate — but (un)equal — groups
Penn says, to the Critical Race Theorist, unlike the Lego Movie where “Everything is awesome when you walk in the street,” it is “everything is racist when you walk in the street.”
Penn gave the analogy of a Black person walking into a white-owned grocery store. He said that — according to CRT — if the white owner waits on the Black person first, well then, the owner merely wants the Black person out of his store quickly and is racist.
“If I walk into that grocery store, as a black person, and you own that grocery store, as a white person, and another white person walks into that grocery store, and you help them first because you don’t recognize me as a human being and you’re racist,” Penn said. “You either attend to me first because you’re racist, and you don’t want me in your store. Or you don’t attend to me at all because you’re racist and you just dismiss me.
“This is a new religion that you cannot win. You will never get out of this purgatory.”
Penn said the theory is teaching children of color that they are perpetual victims.
“This is why you see in diversity, equity, inclusion, diversity, equity and accountability, SEL training, whatever the case might be, this premium being put forth, that my sons, because they’re black, must be taught that they are oppressed,” he said. “They can’t do right. They will never achieve, they are handicapped. They are victims in perpetuity.
“And that your grandchildren, because they are white are automatically oppressors, victimizers, privileged, and the source of all problems that we have.
“I categorically reject and deny, out of hand, every single tenant that would say that my sons should be judged solely on the color of their skin and not the content of the character. That’s the problem that I have with CRT. That’s the problem that Kansas should have with CRT. And shame on anyone who doesn’t.”
Penn said allowing the idea that everything should be based upon skin color is appalling.
“In 1854, there was a court case at the United States Supreme Court. It was Homer Plessy versus Ferguson. We had the court case to decide and determine whether or not separate is equal and the court got that wrong.
“But the court reversed itself about 100 years later. 1954 right here, Topeka, Kansas — Brown v. Topeka. We answered the mail on whether or not we’re going to support state institutionalized state-sponsored racism in our schools that settled. It is abhorrent to even put this into our school system.”
Penn said this week’s hearings amounted to an “opening salvo” by the legislature.
“So I think the biggest thing that we’re doing right now is trying to build up awareness,” he said in the phone interview. “Wednesday’s testimony in the hearings is not the end all be all.
“Nobody’s paying attention during that. But what we’re doing is putting the ball on the tee, to get ready to smack it when we have regular session.”
He said he did not want to say too much about planned legislation “because I don’t want the left to be able to gather themselves in any adequate fashion.”
However, he said legislation will drop during the session that he said he hopes and believes will be bipartisan.
“I would hope that the Democrat Party is not racist,” he said. “Because they are going to champion CRT, they are championing racism.”
“So I’m leaving the door open for anyone with goodwill and good common sense, that does not want to be declared as a racist, to come aboard when we drop our legislation.
“Because I don’t think that any taxpayer should promote CRT with a single red cent of their taxes in Kansas.”