Since The New York Times released its 1619 Project in 2019, schools have been quick to adopt the curriculum. Tensions over race and racism over the past year and half have only added to the number of schools using the curriculum, says Charles Love, host of the “Cut the Bull” podcast and executive director of the nonprofit Seeking Educational Excellence.
While Americans are “arguing … about [critical race theory], what’s the definition, what does it really mean, [the] 1619 [Project] is a behemoth, and it’s growing,” Love warns.
Many schools are choosing to adopt aspects of the 1619 Project curriculum because “it’s easy,” Love says, adding that teachers need to be presented with better education options, such as the 1776 Unites curriculum.
Love joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain the ways in which the woke education agenda is a threat to the American experiment and to discuss his forthcoming book, “Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racism Movement.”
We also cover these stories:
- Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., says that Twitter suspended his account over a tweet that “misgendered” Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who is an assistant secretary for public health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state will offer a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state police officer who chooses to relocate to Florida.
- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp mocks Major League Baseball and Stacey Abrams, whom he defeated in 2018, for “stealing” the 2021 All-Star Game from the state now that the Atlanta Braves are going to the World Series.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Virginia Allen: I am so pleased to be joined by author, scholar, and host of the podcast “Cut the Bull,” Charles Love. Charles, thank you so much for being here.
Charles Love: Well, thanks for having me. Wonderful talking to you.
Allen: So, Charles, you are the executive director of Seeking Educational Excellence, also SEE. It’s a great acronym. It’s a nonprofit whose mission is to empower disadvantaged students to reach their full potential. So, explain a little bit about the work that you all do there.
Love: Well, as far as the disadvantaged children, the main goal is solutions-based. Right? We look at these schools across the country that are failing kids, people are dropping out, kids who are graduating, but they’re not reading and doing math at grade level.
And we see a problem. We’re like, “But no one’s really focused on solutions.” They talk about it, not enough, but when they talk about it, it’s more from a racial standpoint. And it’s what the system is doing right or wrong, but not about what we can do to fix it. And we felt that whatever racism that exists is not an argument that it doesn’t exist, but how do we solve that problem?
And looking at the landscape, it became obvious that while people debate the levels of racism in the country, the one thing that seems pretty clear is that blacks and other minorities who do well at STEM, they get a degree in engineering, or accounting, or become doctors, or some things of that nature, none of them are unemployed.
So, it seems like the immediate thing you can control, we have to deal with the racism and emotion and all that stuff later, but the one thing we can control now is creating more people who are interested in and then eventually graduating those degrees and get jobs, because it will eliminate a lot of the failure that we are seeing, but no one seems to focus on that.
So, we wanted to say, “Stop focusing on social justice.” If you want to be an activist, you want to protest, I’m OK with you doing it. Others may not be. But don’t do it in the school.
In the school, teach what helps these kids advance, and they’ll be better off. And that’s what our initial push was to make that happen and find ways to make that happen.
Allen: So, are you partnering with schools across the country to kind of give them the tools to say, “Hey, this is how you build kids up. This is how you lift them up”? And we need to be careful about where we’re putting our focus. How are you all practically carrying out that mission?
Love: Well, we would like to do that, but it’s hard, because a lot of the schools are just buying into this thing, either because they truly believe it, they’re true believers, or because of fear.
So, we have a curriculum we’re working on that’s full-on … At [the 1776 Unites campaign], we have a curriculum that’s more focused on black empowerment and going against the grain of [The New York Times’ 1619 Project] being wholly negative and saying everything is so bad.
And we’re like, “OK, those things are true, but there’s other narrative.” And so we highlight people who teach different things, and people who’ve done different things. At SEE, we’re more strictly focused on actual educational stuff. So, since people are focused on civics and history and government and things of that nature, a curriculum that will teach them fill in the blanks from the 1619, so to speak, and teach them facts.
But it’s hard to put it in schools, because you need somebody who’s willing to do it. So, we’re working that angle, and it takes some time. But also, as we mentioned earlier when Ian Rowe was talking about running for school board [in Pelham, New York], we think that we want to make sure that people understand what’s going on.
And as they start to wake up, give them avenues to get into things. So, we want more people to run for school board, but they don’t know how. They don’t know why. They don’t know what the school board does. And so we try to enter things from that standpoint, too.
So, either the curriculum or focusing on the school board, because it’s so hard to get directly into the schools what they consider right-wing, even though it’s not, it’s simply solutions based. But if they view it that way, they’re kind of turned off.
Allen: That’s so good. I love that, solutions-based, that’s really, really critical to be having that conversation about: What are the solutions within, really, the issues of education and the problems that we’re seeing within our education system right now?
Love: It’s really important because, think about it, whatever you believe, and I beat up on them sometimes with my personal views. But outside of that, doesn’t matter whether you agree with me or not. The bottom line is you think the country’s racist. You think that these problems that they’re highlighting are problems. But are they offering any solutions?
There’s not one thing anyone can come to me and tell me—[Black Lives Matter], 1619, [critical race theory], whatever you want to call it, “anti-racist”—one thing that they’re saying that solves the problem, not one thing. So, if they really care about the problem, let’s deal with that and find solutions.
Allen: Well, and you mentioned 1776 Unites, excellent curriculum that they now have for high school students really continuing to promote that. We encourage all of our listeners to check that out. You’ve written for them. Many schools, though, we have seen adopt the 1619 Project, The New York Times’ 1619 Project curriculum. Why do you think so many schools are promoting things like the 1619 Project, are adopting this, really, social justice agenda?
Love: Because it’s easy, that is the simplest but probably most honest answer. It’s simple. People are craving change. The loudest voices [are] not the majority of people, but they’re the loudest voices. People get pressured, and they’re like, “Let’s go with this thing.”
I know things have elevated exponentially since George Floyd was killed. But people got to remember, so “1619” came out in the fall of 2019, well before that happened. And by that school, when the school started in September of that year, it was already in 4,500 schools just right off the bat, and it’s growing. So, while we’re arguing up here about [critical race theory], what’s the definition, what does it really mean, “1619” is a behemoth, and it’s growing.
Now, many people, and I argue there’s people who are passionate about this stuff, they don’t believe me because I live in the real world, because they watch and follow, and they listen to podcasts, and they read these stories. They’re like, “What do you mean? All we’ve got to do is just rise up and do this.”
I’m like, “You don’t understand. We’re just a tiny fraction. The average person … “So, it’s a small percentage of people who are yelling about it. It’s a small percentage of us who are fighting against it. The majority of [Americans are] just living their lives, and they’re not listening to any of this stuff. So if we want a change, we need to reach them.
So, I have a book coming out this fall, Nov. 9, and it’s available for presale now, called “Race Crazy.” It’s [Black Lives Matter], 1619, and the progressive racism movement. One-third of that book is specifically about the 1619 Project. I write a chapter about every essay. And the point is that not to attack it, because many of the things, that’s not the problem, so I don’t go into the book and say it’s not true. What I say is, what they infer from it is not logical, the logical conclusion, or they omit a wide swath of things.
So, while they’re arguing about an honest history, an honest history would probably include all the things they leave out. So, in my book, I lay that out, their quotes, what they say, agreeing that it’s true where it is because some of it’s not, and then filling in the blanks, but what they don’t tell you is this. That’s why I think it’s important. It’s going to be a manual to how to push back against this and anything else that comes into the schools. But the reason why they’re doing it, it’s just fear. It’s easier than standing up.
Allen: I’m so glad you brought up the book. We’re going to chat a little more about that in just a moment. But you mentioned the middle, and you’re right, most Americans are busy. They have soccer practice for their kids. They have a job. They’re juggling a lot, and they don’t always feel like they have time to be checking up on: What is my child learning in school? They’re not aware of it.
How do we engage and educate everyday Americans about what’s really happening in their child’s classroom? And then, how do we give them the tools if they discover, “I don’t like this?” How do we give them the tools to push back and be a voice, and make sure their children are learning facts and are learning what they should be learning in education?
Love: Well, that is the single hardest thing, and it’s becoming harder every day. It’s hard because we have lives. Right? We’ve got things to do. We’re busy, like you said. That’s one factor. If that was just it, it would already be hard. It’s compounded by the fact that most people still get their news from mainstream media. And the mainstream media doesn’t think it’s a problem, so they don’t highlight it as a problem. So, you don’t hear it on the mainstream media.
I give them a pass for that because they don’t have to listen to alternative news sources. But the school thing is interesting because you’d think you’d be active with what’s going on in the schools. But that’s why it’s such a problem because now that would be bad enough. But now schools are actively suppressing the things that they’re doing, so they’ve giving the kids these forms. And they’re giving teachers these forms to have the kids fill out and saying, “Don’t tell the parents if they don’t want to be told.”
They’re teaching certain things, and then they’re telling the teachers, “But don’t tell anybody we’re teaching this.” So, even if you wanted to be the parent to find out, they’re not going to just volunteer the information. So, unless your kid is telling you or something else, you’re not going to find out, so that’s part of the problem.
And part of the things, it’s like the Goldwater Institute, who we at SEE work with, is fighting for transparency laws, making it part of the law that you can teach whatever you want to, but you need to pass out physically, you send those notes home with the kids to every parent about what you’re teaching. You figure even the busy parents will glance at that list. So, you need to force them to tell because they won’t tell on their own. That’s part of it.
The other part is hard. I don’t know how to do it, because I have a podcast and a radio show. Other people are talking, more people are being active. But are they really going to listen to that? We’re going to have to take the show on the road and go out into communities and to businesses and talk to people. It’s going to be hard and take a while, but that’s the only way to do it, because how else can you reach the people if they’re not listening to these things? So, you have to take it to them somehow.
It’s hard, but that’s kind of the only way. I don’t see any other way you can do it, because most of the people are outside of that. They’re not talking about it. They’re not listening to it. And they don’t know. I mean, I talk to a surprising number of people who’ve never heard of [diversity, equity, and inclusion], who don’t know Ibram Kendi, they don’t know Nikole Hannah-Jones [of the 1619 Project].
They don’t know the same equal voices on the right. They just don’t know that stuff. So, I mean, they don’t know what’s going on. So, how can you expect them to be upset about it?
Allen: As you mentioned, you have a book coming out in November called “Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racism Movement.” You’ve touched on this a little bit, but share a little bit more about what is the mission of this book. And who is it intended for?
Love: Yeah. It takes a lot of work to do this kind of thing. If I was going to do it, I said I have to do it in my voice, but fill a void that others aren’t doing. So, there’s a lot of voices pushing back against this stuff, and I think that’s good. But I’m like, “What is missing?” And what I thought was twofold. A lot of especially conservatives, so to speak, are saying, “This is bad,” and explaining why.
Some do a better job than the others, and that’s great. But in addition to that, I add a second piece. So, I talk about what’s wrong with it, and why it’s a problem, and lay out what I believe. But the second piece is, to those who may disagree with me, I don’t stop there. I say, “And if you listen to me, and I heard what I just explained, and you disagree with it, fine.” I do what I call giving them their argument.
So I say, “Let’s assume you’re right and the country’s completely racist, or cops are hunting down black people,” all these other things that they may believe. I say, “But if that’s the case, are the things that you are pushing and the things that you are doing helping that? Is it solutions-based?” And I lay out how everything that they’re doing is going to be … The argument is not going to give them the goal that they want, so that’s what I do there. So that’s the key.
You talk about who my target audience is. I don’t talk about politics that much. But if we had to look at it that way, it’s what they call the center. I’m trying to reach center left, center right people, who have whatever views they have about politics, but then just wake them up and let them know what the problem is and get them activated because I think if they saw and heard what was happening, they would agree that it’s a problem. And I’m trying to reach them somehow.
And last piece, a lot of the books that I think are great that I read are written by academics for other academics. So, the problem is, they’re the only people who read the books, so the normals, as I call them, they don’t know what those people are writing, so they don’t get that great information. So, I want them to … I pull from some of those sources and I say, “This is what you need to know that’s happening.”
Allen: Charles, when we talk about America and the future of our country, America is an experiment, and we’re honestly still really in the middle of that experiment. One of the things that you talk about in your book coming out in November, “Race Crazy,” is that BLM, Black Lives Matter organization, is a threat to that American experiment. Why?
Love: Well, it’s because it’s not honest. It’s because it’s not honest. They keep talking about, “We want an honest conversation about history when you talk about education.” It’s not honest, and it takes a really one-sided, not nuanced and fair, approach.
So, the 1619 [Project], we talked about that and some inaccuracies and things of that nature. But the [Black Lives Matter] kind of takes a kind of more aggressive, in-your-face version of that 1619. At least 1619 offers some facts and truth.
[Black Lives Matter] took a premise, and they ran with it. It’s not based on facts. But beyond that, they don’t even talk about the core values. If you think about it, everybody who knows, [Black Lives Matter] knows, whether they agree with it or not, it was founded to stop police brutality. Go to their website, listen to them speak.
They don’t say anything about police brutality anymore. No one really notices that. So, I get into the nitty-gritty in the book and quotes of their own words, talking about “We are abolitionists, we are anti-capitalists.” What does that have to do with police?
They say things like, “We want to push both political parties,” but potentially the Democrats, who say they’re on our side, but they don’t, we want to push them to make … .
We want to change the country, things of that nature, nothing to do with policing. Even if I give them the argument, and police are hunting black people, how do you solve that problem if you’re not even talking about police brutality anymore? They’re getting into all these political things, raising money for politicians, talking about … there’s a lot of gender stuff. They created a word they use five times, “cisheteropatriarchy.” They talk about that. They talk about how we focus on the queer and trans and other stuff.
And it’s not me saying I’m against all that. You can twist my words and say I said something I didn’t say. I didn’t say they don’t have issues. I didn’t say that they don’t have rights, that they should be protected. What I said was [Black Lives Matter] was founded to stop police brutality on mostly black men. They don’t talk about black men in their movement at all.
Allen: Wow. So, you’ve seen a total shift really in their priorities.
Allen: Very, very fascinating. So, as a black person yourself, what do you think about the state of racism in America right now? Are there changes that are needed, that are necessary?
Love: That’s a tough one. I think it’s bad, but it’s not really changes because what has changed … It sounds and feels good when you hear change. But change doesn’t always mean improvement, for one. But what are we really changing? We changed the laws. So, people’s attitudes need to change. I agree with that. But how do you go about doing that?
You can’t really police someone’s thoughts, for one. And two, I believe this is a kind of crazy thing, I’m starting to hear murmurs of this, but I’ve been saying for about two years that whatever level of racism you think that’s in the country now, we may disagree, I think it’s going down. You think it’s at the same, or since [Donald] Trump, it’s worse.
Whatever that case is, what [Black Lives Matter], [the 1619 Project], the anti-racists, and all these groups are doing, logically, just dealing with human nature, it’s going to create more racists, because you’ve got to put yourself in the person’s mind and just be fair, whether it’s right or wrong.
If in a normative white person who didn’t grow up around blacks, I didn’t grow up hearing all this racist stuff, but I have my views, and I agree with some or disagree with some, I’m a little bit liberal on some things. But I’m constantly told every day that I’m a racist. At some point, some percentage, is it four, is it 12, is it 20? I don’t know, but commonsense says some percentage are going to say, “Screw it. Since you’re calling me ‘racist’ anyway, fine. I’m tired of hearing about black people.”
So you create, and then especially since underlying this is, really, a class thing, so you’re calling it race.
So, really what you’re saying, the parts I agree with them on, they’re talking about how the poor aren’t being treated fairly. OK, but you’re layering it with race. So as a poor white guy, you’re going to be like, “But I’m struggling, too, and you seem to only care about them.” You add on immigration issues and all that other stuff, the poor white guy is p—–, and he has a right to be.
And now, on top of being poor, losing the business that’s in his one-business town, struggling to survive, now you’re calling him a racist, and he’s not even focused on race at all because he’s trying to survive. And you’re like, “Let’s … shift the system specifically to help a certain group of people and leave them out.” Why wouldn’t they get p—–? So even if you’re right about racism, that’s not helping racism. It’s going to cause more racists.
Allen: Fascinating. Now I know that some people would respond to that argument that you just made and say, “But actually, this has always been an issue. There’s always been racism under the surface. And now we’re talking about it, and we’re bringing it up, and we’re more aware of it. And we have to talk about these things.” What’s your response to the people that say, “This has actually always been a big issue. It’s just now coming up.”
Love: Well, I won’t say it’s always been a big issue. So, Larry in Tennessee is a racist. So, he’s always been a racist, and he’s still a racist. So, yes, factually, technically, he’s always been a racist. But he hasn’t been acting on it. He’s a mechanic. Unless he’s physically attacking people, he’s not cutting blacks out of jobs because he’s not a boss. He does, because I say this to my mom, my mom’s kind of liberal, but she’s 80-something years old, and she understands.
She’s talking “race, race, race,” because she’s a Democrat, and that’s fine. And I’ll say in some ways, “You’re right. But let me ask you a question, mom. You grew up when things were openly segregated.” And I said, “When blacks moved into those neighborhoods, what did the white racists do?” We know they were racist. We have evidence that they were racist. I said, “What did they do?”
And she started laughing because she knew where I was going. I said, “Did they hang people?” This was in New York. Did they kill you? Did they fire you from your job? She’s like, “No, they moved.” So, if we know through history, white flight, there’s a name for it, that the white racist just wants to be away from the blacks, these aren’t even counting the white people who aren’t racist, but white racists want to be away from the blacks. So, they’re going to move away. So, if that’s the worst that they’re going to do, why are you complaining about that?
Now, those that they will say that are in positions of power, that may be true, too. I don’t know what percentage there are, but there’s some. But how are you going to change that? They’re not openly saying, “No blacks apply” anymore. They’re hiring their buddies. They’re doing things of that nature.
And that’s not necessarily racism, because we know that if a black man ran his business, he believes in nepotism, too. He’d hire his friend’s kid, too. But when a black guy does it, it’s wonderful. When a white guy does it, it’s racist.
So, I would say to those people that as much as I may agree or disagree with you, the method you’re going about doesn’t work, because you can’t change human behavior. So if they say it’s been there all along, it’s better that we’re talking about it. No, because the proof is in the pudding. Watch the news.
Now we’re polarized. Now we’re yelling at each other. Now everybody’s calling everybody a racist. How can they logically think that’s helpful? They don’t think it’s helpful, but they think they’re going to get something at the end of the rainbow, they’ll get some prize, and it won’t happen.
Allen: All right. So, let’s bring it full circle back to education.
Allen: So, how do we then, in classrooms, how do we talk about America’s past? How do we talk about the issues of race and racism and slavery, well, without furthering division, without furthering those issues?
Love: Simple answer, hard to do. It’s really simple. You need to teach it, but teach it age-appropriate and in the right context. I don’t think in a finite amount of time in school, when kids aren’t reading and doing math to level, that we should be focused on teaching slavery all the time. That needs to be in every class. You need to start it somewhere in junior high, work it into high school. It shouldn’t be in elementary school at all.
And when you teach it, so it doesn’t need to be everywhere, and when you teach it, teach it fair. You can teach the 1619 Project, as long as you’re willing to point out the things that they leave out.
I’ll give you a little snippet from the book. So, I talk about the 1619 Project. I already said earlier that a lot of it’s accurate, but that’s not the problem. So, they say, “We want a true account of history.” Do you?
So, do you know that the 1619 Project has nothing positive to say about America? Nothing, not one thing, zero, nothing, naught, nothing.
Secondly, they talk about periods of time. So, they talk about the Founders and talk about it, but “they owned slaves.” But they don’t mention the fact that a third of them did not own slaves. They don’t even mention that. So, when they say, “They owned slaves,” it’s not true because all of them didn’t. And then the ones who did, that may be true, a lot of them wrote a lot about slavery. And it was negative, so it doesn’t play for the narrative, so none of that is in that.
Second one I like is, they talk about Reconstruction, spend a long time talking about all the Reconstruction. And they mentioned Rutherford B. Hayes, for historians who know, is [the] 1876 election. They know he made a deal, which led a lot of the former Confederates back into the government and all that, really bad. So, they talk about him. He was a one-term president.
But they don’t mention [Ulysses S.] Grant, the two-term Republican president who decimated the Klan. His whole presidency was during Reconstruction, but because he actually pushed for civil rights acts, they don’t mention him at all. How do you have an honest conversation about Reconstruction and not mention Grant?
Allen: Yeah. That’s a great question.
Love: Because they’re not honest. So, the two solutions, quickly, again, would be “Don’t do it as much, and be actually honest,” not their warped version of honesty.
Allen: What is your challenge to parents, to parents that are trying to tackle this, they’re thinking about their child’s education? What is your encouragement to them? What is your message to them?
Love: Take the time, as busy as you are, I understand it. I feel your pain. Take the time to know what’s going on. Ask questions. Get involved. And confront the teachers, make them tell you what they’re doing in lieu of any transparency of the law, you make them do it. Go to the school boards.
Like I said, run for school board. But if you don’t run, go, listen to what’s happening, because most of the time years ago, it’d be four people there, so they can say anything crazy. Nobody would hear. Get your cellphone. Record it. It’s an open meeting, and play what they do, and let normal people who aren’t in those situations know what’s happening.
Allen: How can we follow your work? How can our listeners get the book and be aware of what you’re doing?
Love: Yes. Please preorder the book “Race Crazy,” coming on Nov. 9, but you can buy it now. The easiest way, of course, if you don’t like Amazon, you can find it on Amazon, but the easiest way to find me is go to thecharleslove.com, the website, clips from the podcast, the radio show, all that stuff is there. You can follow me on Twitter at CDouglasLove3. And that’s just those two things, you can find everything I do.
Allen: Thank you so much, Charles, for your time. I really appreciate it.
Love: Thank you.
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