California to require ethnic studies for high school graduation

California to require ethnic studies for high school graduation
Ibram X. Kendi, the product of critical race theory (Image: YouTube screen grab via CBS News)

California has become the first state to require ethnic studies for graduation. “Ethnic studies in California…will move forward as a compromise between advocates who wanted an activist, anti-imperialist approach and those who asserted that the first version … was filled with radical ideology, obscure academic jargon and bias against capitalism,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Despite opposition from “critics across the political spectrum,” “California on Friday became the first state to make ethnic studies a required class for high school graduation.”

In practice, this means that students will taught to regard themselves either as oppressors or victims. California’s ethnic studies template echoes critical race theory in some respects. The Times says that “critical race theory is rarely mentioned in the teaching guide, but critic Williamson M. Evers said the overall model curriculum is ‘permeated’ with content that makes it ‘racially divisive and burdened by faddish ideology.’ According to Evers, a former U.S. assistant secretary of Education, and some other opponents, the problematic issues include a reliance on the concepts of critical race theory, leading to a portrayal of American culture and institutions through a racially divisive prism of oppressor and victim.”

Many ethnic-studies writers provide inaccurate depictions of historical events, or advocate racial discrimination in favor of minority groups. For example, Professor Ibram Kendi is often cited by California educators, and supporters of ethnic-studies mandates call his work “an important addition to ethnic studies.”

Kendi’s “key concept” is that discrimination against whites is the only way to achieve equality: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” writes Kendi in How to Be an Antiracist, a New York Times bestseller touted by some progressive journalists.

“Many high schools and middle schools are assigning” Ibram Kendi’s book Stamped to students, notes law professor David Bernstein, even though this “book associated with Critical Race Theory” is filled with factual errors, and contains “bad history.” For example, the Washington Free Beacon reports that “Amazon spent $5,000 to distribute hundreds of copies” of “Ibram X. Kendi’s book” “Stamped” “to Virginia public school students” in Arlington, Va.

Some ethnic-studies authors idolize totalitarian communists while disparaging freedom-fighters like Dr. Martin Luther King. As Professor Bernstein notes, Ibram Kendi’s

ideology is pernicious. He divides the world into segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists. The assimilationists, like the segregationists, are in Kendi’s telling all racists…This includes almost everyone prominent who has ever worked for civil rights, including Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois (at least until he became a Communist), Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. Any book that depicts these individuals as racists should raise more than a few eyebrows before getting assigned to middle-schoolers.

The hero of the last third of the book is Angela Davis…even though she was Communist who devoted most of her life to advancing Communism….and was an over-the-top apologist for every brutal action ever taken by the USSR…

After a dubious acquittal from a charge of conspiracy to murder…she spent the most productive years of her career as an activist for the American Communist Party.

The antisemitic Davis condemned jailed Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union as “‘Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism’” who should “be kept in prison.” Yet she is Kendi’s heroine.

Kendi’s book misrepresents what the Nation of Islam believes — omitting its racism. Kendi falsely claims that a Republican candidate’s “opposition to federal spending was because it was going to black people for the first time,” even though that Republican candidate opposed racism, as demonstrated by the fact that he desegregated his state’s national guard before the U.S. military was desegregated; desegregated the U.S. Senate cafeteria in 1953 after being elected to the Senate; and served as a leading member of his state’s NAACP chapter.

Kendi’s book Stamped peddles the baseless conspiracy theory that “the Bush administration directed FEMA to delay its response” to a devastating hurricane “in order to amplify the destructive reward for those who would benefit.” Such conspiracy theories have been debunked even by liberals like former Democratic National chairwoman Donna Brazile.

Kendi falsely claims the No Child Left Behind Law backed by Democratic leaders and President Bush put the blame on black teachers and parents for bad school performance by black students, when the opposite was true: it sought to hold schools, not black people, accountable for black students passing standardized tests at lower rates than whites, notes the Applied Research Center.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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