Joint letter calls on governor to veto "Critical Race Theory" mandates on public school employees

PRESS RELEASE
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Apr 19, 2021

Washington Policy Center and three other prominent groups call on Governor Inslee to veto a series of bills mandating public employees attend "Critical Race Theory" sessions.  The message was delivered via an open letter sent to the governor and published in newspapers statewide including The Seattle Times, The Everett HeraldThe Bellingham HeraldThe Spokesman-Review, the Tri-City HeraldThe Yakima Herald Republic, and The Columbian.

Washington Policy Center (WPC) was joined by other concerned organizations including Center for Latino Leadership, Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition President Mike Sotelo, and Washington Asians for Equality. The letter warned that the mandates the bills would impose violate the Washington Civil Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the equal protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.  The bills would require government educational entities to deny fair and equal treatment for all people regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or national origin.

"Critical Race Theory defines people based on their appearance," explained Liv Finne, Center for Education Director at WPC. "It teaches us to divide each other by skin tone rather than character. It's fundamentally wrong, and is a giant step backwards for Washington."
 
Critical Race Theory teaches that if people are identified as white, Jewish or Asian, they are oppressors.  If they are seen as black, Hispanic or part of another group, they are oppressed. The joint letter to the governor warns the legislation would create a hostile work environment in public institutions and allow the use of perceived racial identities to target and harass disfavored employees.

Below is the full text of the joint letter sent to urge the governor to exercise his veto power:

Governor Inslee: Don't impose divisive and harmful Critical Race Theory on our schools

 
 
Dear Governor Inslee,                                                                                                  April 18, 2021
 
We write to call on you to veto four harmful bills passed by the legislature which would require public employees in elementary and high schools (SB 5044), community colleges (SB 5194), state college and universities (SB 5227), and medical schools (SB 5228) to attend mandatory sessions in the controversial and dehumanizing concept known as “Critical Race Theory.”
 
The mandates these bills would impose violate the Washington Civil Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the equal protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.  These bills would require government educational entities to deny the fair and equal treatment that all people deserve regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or national origin.
 
Critical Race Theory teaches people that their individuality is not based on their intrinsic worth as human persons, but as members of a group based on their perceived outward appearance. Critical Race Theory teaches that if people are identified as white, Jewish or Asian, they are oppressors.  If they are seen as black, Hispanic or part of another group, they are oppressed.
 
The illiberal and intolerant ideology required by these bills will create a hostile work environment in public institutions and allow the use of perceived racial identities to target and harass disfavored employees. This backward-looking policy will only serve to perpetuate historic injustices and further divide us from one another.
 
Prominent scholar and civil rights activist Robert Woodson says employing this racial lens is having a devastating effect on low-income people of all races.  Other civil rights leaders like professors John McWhorter and Glenn Loury say that these trainings dehumanize and belittle children.  The Chinese American Citizens Alliance in New York says Critical Race Theory is “today’s Chinese Exclusion Act” and that supporting it represents a “hate crime against Asians.” These trainings seek to “otherize” white people based on appearance, a clear violation not only of core civil rights protections but of the essential idea of fairness.
 
The authors of these bills fail to recognize that American society is becoming increasingly diverse and that the people no longer fall into the neat color categories envisioned by Critical Race Theory, if they ever did.
 
To oppose this ideology, many prominent black, white, Jewish and Asian leaders have formed the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR).  They point to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of nearly 60 years ago when he dreamed of a day when all persons are judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.
 
If these reasons are not enough, we call on you to act out of basic human decency.  Despite the political pressure you may feel to sign these bills into law, they will in fact divide us further.  Do not let these bills turn back the clock to a time of conflict and segregation, when government officials used perceived racial identities to discriminate against and divide our communities.
 
We urge you to join with us in seeking ways to unite our citizens in a truly inclusive and respectful way.
 
Washington Policy Center
Center for Latino Leadership
Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition/Mike Sotelo, President
Washington Asians For Equality