As a timely follow-up to our March 29 analysis of the FiveThirtyEight article touching on leftist racial equity initiatives, The Heritage Foundation recently published a report entitled "Critical Race Theory Would Not Solve Racial Inequality: It Would Deepen It", in which Christopher Rufo touches on the tenets of critical race theory and offers an alternative theory of racial inequality.
Rufo notes that numerous scholars have demonstrated that "the real drivers of American poverty - for all racial groups - are the so-called background variables of family structure, educational attainment, and workforce participation." Namely, the solution to poverty for all racial groups is to provide a pathway for stable two-parent households, achievement-based academic success, and full-time work for householders. These factors have a significant impact on poverty in America across ALL races. Ironically, discussions of "privilege" conveniently omit the fact that "white alone, not Hispanic" is the single largest poverty group in the United States.
Unfortunately, critical race theorists and the left would prefer to tear down these pillars as they identify them as key support structures enabling and maintaining what they see as the systemic racism inherent in the United States.
A range of scholars have pointed to family structure as the single-greatest predictor of poverty; i.e., living in a two-parent household significantly reduces the chance that a child will live in poverty. Unfortunately, critical race theorists have targeted the traditional family structure as part of the patriarchal, oppressive system that needs to be dismantled. Indeed, Black Lives Matter at one time listed on the organization's website its aims to "disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement". They removed the statement after receiving justified attention (the author of this SD49 article recalls viewing the statement live on the BLM website in the summer of 2020 before it was taken down).
When analyzing socioeconomic disparities between racial groups, one cannot ignore the impact of single motherhood, a figure that has increased to significant levels in the African-American community over the past several decades, as "children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock" according to NBC.
Similarly, Rufo highlights that critical race theorists believe achievement-based admissions, testing, and even grading are illustrative of "white supremacy". These efforts by the left to lower the academic achievement bar in the name of "anti-racism" reflects, as charter school leader Ian Rowe terms it, the “modern day version of the soft bigotry of low expectations" and gives up on minority children (who most certainly can achieve excellence).
While full-time employment correlates to lower poverty according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, critical race theorists also tend to disparage entry-level and low-wage work as a form of "capitalist exploitation". Rufo shares that "critical theorists Wendy Limbert and Heather Bullock explicitly reject the idea of '[promoting] personal responsibility through work,' dismissing it as a ploy to allow white male elites to 'avoid responsibility for eliminating structural impediments to economic equality.'"
As Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute have laid out, following the so-called "success sequence" gives Americans a tremendous chance (97-98%) of living above the poverty line as an adult. The success sequence entails:
1) graduating from high school,
2) having children AFTER getting married, and
3) working full-time (in ANY occupation).
Instead of demonizing this sequence as the left attempts to do, we should recognize it as a viable real-world model that offers poor and minority families the greatest opportunity for success.
The picture painted by critical race theorists of these core pillars of family, education and employment appears to be one of disdain. However, it should be clear that gaps in these areas have a significant impact on socioeconomic outcomes. For those concerned with racial disparities, we should insist that any proposed policy solutions, at the very least, adequately reflect the importance of these pillars and focus on ways to shore them up. For example, we should highlight the importance of the nuclear family in lifting ALL races out of poverty, versus lambasting it as a vestige of patriarchal white supremacy. But then, Marxism has always been a destructive force, not a creative one.