March 28, 2023
The launch of the Montclair Chapter of The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) was announced to the Township of Montclair on Thursday of this week, and the chapter held its second meeting on Sunday March 26. We welcomed several new members to FAIR Montclair, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and our humanity. The chapter’s second meeting solidified our commitment to looking at difficult issues from multiple points of view, challenging each other’s ideas, listening with open minds, and addressing social and political issues in a way that seeks common ground and fosters civility. We encourage anyone interested in FAIR to visit the national and local websites and see for themselves what the group stands for (https://www.fairforall.org and https://www.fairforall.org/montclair-NJ/).
We are pleased that the announcement of the Montclair chapter generated positive and supportive responses, just as it has in chapters launched across the country. The negative responses on some social media posts focused almost exclusively on FAIR’s advocacy concerning Critical Race Theory (CRT), without fully explaining the group’s position. Consistent with the position of the national FAIR organization, the Montclair chapter fully supports and encourages factual teaching about historical and present-day racism and discrimination in the United States, as well as teaching about the ongoing effects of such injustices. It would be impossible for students to understand the social and economic conditions of today without understanding these aspects of our country’s history. If CRT means the accurate teaching of American history—with all its sordid elements—then we favor it.
However, others think of CRT as a political ideology teaching students that their race defines them as belonging either to an oppressive, privileged class or to an oppressed, exploited class. This political version of CRT labels students based solely on immutable characteristics while denying their common humanity and unique individuality. It also presents an over-simplified, one-sided view of history and society that ignores or downplays the progress that has been made since the end of slavery and Jim Crow, as well as the significant role greater society has played in abolishing and overcoming unfair legal and economic systems. FAIR would oppose CRT where it is used to stigmatize students based on race, or is presented as an objectively true ideology without consideration of contrary facts, theories and opinions. FAIR supports allowing students to judge for themselves which conclusions are correct through critical analysis of facts as well as a variety of viewpoints, opinions and theories.
CRT is unlikely to be the focus of FAIR’s efforts in town, however, because FAIR is not aware of this ideological version of CRT being taught in Montclair district schools. Of course, we may take issue with such curriculum if it comes to our attention, and FAIR will always seek to do so in a civil manner that respects the viewpoints of others who may support such curriculum.
It is also important to note that FAIR focuses on many issues besides the ideological version of CRT. We believe in respectful disagreement and open-mindedness that recognizes both the existence of objective truth and the necessity of open discourse to reach that truth. We believe in an optimistic realism, whereby we acknowledge injustices as well as our continued progress and ongoing commitment to our shared ideals.
For further reading on CRT by practitioners and scholars, we recommend: On Critical Race Theory, Why It Matters & Why You Should Care, Victor Ray (2023); Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (4th Ed.), Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (2023); and White by Law, The Legal Construction of Race, Ian Haney Lopez (2006).
For critiques of CRT or CRT-inspired worldviews, check out: Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About, Wilfred Reilly (2020); Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, John McWhorter (2021); and Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity, Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay (2020).
For more information on FAIR’s position regarding CRT as applied in schools, please explore:
For more information about FAIR’s views on education, please see: https://www.fairforall.org/fair-in-education/
The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism