The ideology seeping into our classrooms goes by different names: “Equity,” “Critical Race Theory,” “Culturally Responsive Teaching,” “Ethnic Studies” — even “Social-Emotional Learning.” 

Whatever the label, its key trait is that it uses words with common-sense meanings, but redefines them to mean the opposite.

“Equity,” for example, sounds like just another word for “fairness.” But most Minnesota schools’ equity plans and materials share, explicitly or implicitly, these four tenets:

  • America’s institutions — political, legal and culture — are permeated by “systemic racism;
  • Race determines identity (“who we are”); we are members of racial groups first, and individual human beings only secondarily;
  • Life is a relentless, zero-sum power struggle between racial groups — oppressors and victims, “dominant” and “non-dominant” groups; and
  • We will not achieve “equity” until all racial and ethnic groups have the same outcomes, which will require transforming American norms and institutions.

In other words, this new version of equity is not about fairness, but the unfairness necessary to produce identical group outcomes.

Or takeracism” and “anti-racism.”

To most parents, “racism” means viewing people as superior or inferior based on their race, and treating them differently as a result. So if you’re “anti-racist,” you believe that human beings should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, as Dr. Martin Luther King did.

But the “anti-racism” now making inroads in our schools teaches the opposite: That race defines identity and is the thing that matters most about a person.

By this new definition, anyone who shares Dr. King’s vision — and the ideas that produced America’s Civil Rights movement — now qualifies as a “racist.” No wonder many parents are confused!

Today’s “anti-racism” is really “Neo-racism”:  a new form of the race-based prejudice that most Americans rejected decades ago.  It teaches we should discriminate, with different rules and standards for people based on their skin color.

Many Minnesota students are now learning just this. For example, school officials in Mahtomedi have recommended a curricular resource called “What White Children Need to Know about Race.” It teaches that believing skin color doesn’t matter is actually “whiteness-at-work,” a “socialization strategy that perpetuates a racist status quo.”

“Equity” terminology

The new Neo-racist ideology is based on morally “loaded” language that encourages feeling over thinking; stirs up anger, resentment and guilt; and makes anyone who disagrees with it seem immoral.

Key terms, listed alphabetically, include:

Critical Race Theory (CRT)

Critical Race Theory is the philosophy behind Neo-racist “equity” ideology. It was invented by academics at elite universities, but has spread to America’s K-12 classrooms.

We often hear that only graduate schools teach this ideology, and that parents who object to it don’t understand it.

But the National Education Association, America’s largest teachers’ union, publicly embraced CRT at its Summer 2021 annual meeting and declared its intention to move forward with promoting it in K-12 public schools across the country. (After the meeting, the union removed all materials mentioning CRT from its website.) Education Minnesota, our state’s teachers union, has disseminated a series of resources for educators and school leaders on how to defend CRT.

CRT is based on the claim that life is a race-based power struggle, and that America is “systemically racist.” It also asserts the following:

  • Race essentialism: A person’s race is the most important thing about him or her.  CRT attributes positive traits to “blackness” and negative traits to “whiteness,” erasing individual identities. 
  • Collective guilt: White people are presumed guilty of any past injustice carried out by people with white skin. They are viewed as complicit in the oppression of minority groups and said to receiveunwarranted benefits (“white privilege”) as a result.
  • Anti-merit: It is racist, or inequitable, to distinguish between people based on the excellence of their skills, because high standards are in fact a vehicle to perpetuate racist institutions and structures.
  • A push for race-based distribution — “Racial proportionalism” (i.e., identical financial, educational, etc., outcomes for various groups) will require government-engineered redistribution of property and rewards.

CRT claims to promote justice, empathy and harmony. But it violates the principles of dignity, respect and common humanity that most Americans believe should govern the way we treat our fellow human beings. It is also inconsistent with America’s founding principles of equality and justice.

Richard Delgado, one of CRT’s founders, has put it this way:

Unlike traditional approaches to civil rights, … critical race theory calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law.”

Richard Delgado, Critical Race Theory (NYU Press)

Equality vs. “Equity”

 “Equality” and “equity” may sound similar, but they mean very different things.

Equalitymeans that everyone has equal rights under the law. Government treats all individuals the same, regardless of their skin color.  

Equitymeans identical outcomes for all racial/ethnic groups. It calls for government to treat people as members of groups, not as individuals, and to use unequal treatment in an attempt to achieve equal outcomes.

To engineer “equity” (group proportionalism), America’s institutions must be transformed. How will this happen? “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination,” writes anti-racist guru Ibram Kendi, using “anti-racist” in its redefined form. (The Minnesota Department of Education has endorsed Kendi as an expert on “racial and social justice”: Education Minnesota – Racial & social justice resources)

Kendi calls for a powerful new federal agency, the Department of Antiracism (DOA), that “would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas:” How To Fix Inequality: Pass an Anti-Racist Constitutional Amendment – POLITICO

The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas.

But political and legal changes of this kind, which would replace equal rights for individuals with attempts to guarantee identical group outcomes, would violate the Constitution and undermine our democracy.

America’s Constitution proclaims that we are created “equal,” not equitable. Its Bill of Rights declares we hold our rights as individuals, not collectives, while the 14th Amendment guarantees “equal protection” under the law.

How will we know when “equity” is achieved, and “anti-racist discrimination” is no longer necessary? Equity advocates can’t tell us. For example, Nataki Pettigrew, chief equity and inclusion officer of an Indianapolis-area school district, insists the “equity journey” will never end:

You’re on a journey but you never arrive, you get closer, but you never really get there. It’s continued work, it doesn’t stop, because I think the moment what we stop is the moment that old systems can come back.

Implicit bias

Racial bias that is allegedly programmed into white people, prompting them — unconsciously and unintentionally — to react negatively to people of other skin colors.

This notion assumes that white people have “false consciousness,” which prevents them from perceiving reality and justice accurately. The conclusion? On matters of “social justice,” whites must defer to enlightened equity activists, who alone understand what racial justice requires.


Small slights or insults that white people commit, often without knowing it, that allegedly harm or offend non-white people.

“Micro-aggression” is a recent concept. It is the result of Neo-racist ideology’s need to “define racism down,” since overt racism and discriminatory policies have become increasingly rare.

Systemic racism

The claim that racism is not confined to individual instances of bigotry, but is embedded in America’s social, political and cultural institutions.

Equity advocates claim that statistical differences in outcomes among racial groups are conclusive proof of structural racism. But they reject or ignore powerful social science evidence that variables like family structure, educational attainment and workforce participation are the real drivers of poverty for all races.

White fragility

The idea, popularized by author Robin DiAngelo, that white people respond irrationally, angrily and defensively when challenged on their (presumed) views on race. According to DiAngelo, these “defensive moves” include “argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

The concept of “white fragility” is logically circular. It sets up a “no-win” situation: If a person denies he is racist, this merely confirms that he is in fact guilty of racism.

White supremacy

“White supremacy” makes most Americans think of slavery or the Ku Klux Klan. But “equity” theorists have redefined the term to include norms and behavior expectations that are generally viewed simply as qualities of good character.    

For example,

  • Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, superintendent of the Hopkins Public Schools, told her staff In a June 2020 speech that to “eradicate” our nation’s “pandemic of racial injustice,” “we need to examine the role that whiteness plays in our macrosystem of white supremacy.”

    As a result, in Hopkins, student learning is being restructured to end the “13 characteristics of white supremacy.” These include “punctuality” (requiring students to turn in assignments on time), “perfectionism” (high standards) and “objectivity” (thinking in a logical or “linear” fashion).
  • Likewise, the famed Kipp charter schools recently dropped their motto, “Work Hard. Be Nice,” because it “places value on being compliant and submissive” and “supports the illusion of meritocracy” — both alleged elements of White Supremacy.

The claim that non-white students are incapable of being on time, thinking logically or working hard is false, demeaning and, yes, racist. Until the recent rise of equity ideology, it would have been almost universally denounced as such.

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