Rep. Vernon Jones joined Marc Lamont Hill for an interview on Black News Tonight earlier this week. When pressed for direct reasoning for his stance on banning critical race theory from schools, the conversation grew intense.
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Jones, a former Democrat and current Republican who is currently a candidate in the GOP primary for Georgia’s 2022 gubernatorial election, said that he would ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools if given the change.
“On Day One, through executive order, I will immediately instruct the Georgia Department of Education to prohibit the teaching of Critical Race Theory within our public schools,” he tweeted. “It’s time for our schools to stop teaching our kids to hate America.”
He took this stance to Hill, who pushed to understand the reasoning behind the position. The host asked the politician to explain critical race theory and his answer was not definitive or factual, according to Hill.
“Well, actually, I think it’s different depending on who’s teaching it and how they’re teaching it,” Jones said. “I think you can agree with that. We were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Well, you and I both know that Christopher Columbus got lost. People were already living here. But there are those who are using their own ideology and their own party affiliation to go to the extreme, and that’s what I’m trying to address here.”
Hill continued to ask for a definition, saying “for example, if I said I was against creationism, I would say creationism is x, y, and z.”
Jones responded, “Well, first of all, again, I can tell you but it’s left up to you to understand,” Jones said. “I can’t make you understand. The fact of it is that critical race theory, even on its basis, should not be taught in our schools. Period.”
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As Hill continued to ask for a clear explanation, Jones flipped the question back to the author. “Obviously, you don’t know and you haven’t told your audience,” he said, continuing to call Hill “dumb as two left shoes.”
Hill requested for producers to mute the mic of his guest due to the talking over each other. He then responded to the insult on his intelligence, pointing out that despite Jones being a Black member of the Republican Party, he did not result to name-calling or slurs often used against Black conservatives.
“You’re not gonna come on my show and call me dumb,” Hill said. “What I will tell you is that critical race theory is a theory that actually emerged out of critical legal studies. It is a theory that makes an attempt to understand the law through the lens of race and it’s founded on some fundamental presumptions.
“One is the intractability of race and racism, meaning it’s an intractable problem in America and that we have to use the lens of race to make sense of things. It also is based on the use of counter stories. … These are two big theories, two big pillars of it. And so what we wanna do is, if you wanna ban it, you have to explain to me why.”
Although some GOP leaders cannot explain CRT, party members continue to push to ban the theory from being taught has continued. theGrio reported on Tuesday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, has signed a bill that now prohibits public schools — including public universities — from teaching the concept.
Iowa, as well as Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia — have drafted bills that would ban the teaching of what they deem “divisive” or “racist and sexist” concepts. Lawmakers in Tennessee have also moved to ban critical race theory instruction in their public schools. The state’s House Education Administration Committee voted 12-3 to prohibit teaching elements of the theory. Bills have also passed in Utah and Arkansas.
The Organization of American Historians, the nation’s largest professional organization of scholars of U.S. history, released a statement last year where they wrote: “Critical race theory provides a lens through which we can examine and understand systemic racism and its many consequences. It does not introduce the ‘twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms,’ contended the historians, ‘but rather illustrates the wide gap between the ideal and reality of opportunity in our shared past, as well as long-unfulfilled promises and possibilities.’”
Watch the exchange between Hill and Jones below:
This article contains additional reporting by theGrio’s Biba Adams.
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