Ivy league professors criticize CRT, idea of 'systemic racism'

Columbia Professor John McWhorter and Brown Professor Glenn Loury questioned 'systemic racism' as an accurate, or even useful, term to analyze race in the US.

They also challenged Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo during the recorded conversation.

Two Ivy League professors, both of whom are Black, recently criticized the term “systemic racism,” arguing that it is “simplistic” and a distraction from the issues facing minorities. 

Last Tuesday, Columbia Professor John McWhorter joined Brown University Professor Glenn Loury on the latter’s Substack to dispel the idea that systemic racism is “the primary cause of racial disparities in the US.” 

In doing so, both McWhorter and Loury questioned the work of Robin DiAngelo, the notable Critical Race Theory scholar, and Ibram X. Kendi, the Boston University professor known for his work on “anti-racism.” 

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Loury proceeded to claim that labeling something as systemically racist is a “a bluff and a bludgeon” and makes it difficult to offer a counter argument or “give any alternative account of the phenomenon that is [in] question.” He added that “systemic racism becomes a kind of rhetorical weapon to try to get the moral high ground in a debate about racial disparity.”

McWhorter also had issues with the modern notion of “systemic racism” and argued against the usage of the term. He asserted that using it “leads to a mental habit of thinking that what needs to be combated is racism of some kind.”

”Anybody who thinks about it knows that it’s not necessarily about making people have less racist sentiments,” McWhorter said, adding that such an idea characterizes DiAngelo’s teachings. 

“Black kids tend not to be as good at them. Now, the reasons for that can be traced to racism,” McWhorter stated. “I think also...it’s about cultural aspects of things which are positive in some ways about Black people, about humanity, but that make you not especially good at doing things like taking standardized tests.” 

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McWhorter ended the conversation with an ardent denouncement of the term “systemic racism,” stating that “it always implies that that animus you have against bigotry is the same feeling you should have when Black people aren’t as good at something as White people for some reason.”

 He concluded by stating that “systemic racism” is his “least favorite expression in the English language at this point.”

Campus Reform contacted Professors Glenn Loury and John McWhorter as well as Brown University and Columbia University. This article will be updated accordingly.