Michael Harriot Profile picture
Jun 11, 2021 27 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
This is damn near impossible. It's like asking: "Can you briefly explain how the universe works?"

However, there are some things people should know.

A thread.
First of all, you should know that critical theory, as a tool for examining social structures, has been around for more than a century.

Broadly put, no social structure is perfect, and all social structures must be examined
And we know that when you examine or "critique" something, especially a society, the critique is NEVER objective. It is always colored by the perspective of the observer. I know this sounds like something someone says when the edible kicked in, but here's an example.
Everyone knows America founded was founded on July 4, 1776. I don't think there's any debate about that.

Except, there is.

1776 was just the year a bunch of white guys wrote a breakup letter to King George saying the American colonies were tired of being England's sidepiece.
But that was on June 7, so America didn't become a country then. The Declaration of Independence wasn't even signed until August, after the Revolutionary War had been going on for over a year. And the war lasted until 1783. And the Constitution wasn't ratified until June 21, 1788
How was America founded before we became an official country?

In fact, for years, Jefferson and Adams disagreed on the July 4 thing. In his papers, Adams told his wife it was July 2, 1776

So what happened?

Basically no one remembered.

And if you ask the indigenous people of North America when this country was founded, they'd tell you there were cities, states and organized governments long before white people arrived.

My point is: How we define "America" has always been determined by white people.
In fact, enslaved Black people were not technically "Americans" until the passage of the 14th Amendment, which defined citizenship.

If white people arbitrarily decided that America was founded in 1776, the only reason someone would argue with another date like... ummm...1619
is if they were not "critically" examining history. Does that make sense?

OK, here's something else you should know:

Not ONE SCINTILLA of what I just said has anything to do with Critical Race Theory.

It's just something white people disagree with
Basically, CRT was first used to examine and study the law through the lens of race. But "critical theory," doesn't just examine social structures, nor should it. If the smart, educated arson investigators showed up to examine a fire, wouldn't you want them to try to put it out?
So CRT has a few premises.

1. Racism exists: Because... duhhhh

2. Racism is "ordinary": This is the part that people get wrong. Tucker Carlson and Tim Scott would have you believe that CRT teaches that "America is a racist country" While that might be true, (and, IMO it is)...
CRT does not say that. It proposes that racism is "ordinary," or "not remarkable"

For instance, everyone in the US does not carry the cold virus. But the reason that doctors don't freak out when a patient has a cold is that they know having a cold is not remarkable. It is normal
3. Racism and white supremacy serve a purpose: Racism exists because a certain segment of society benefits from its existence. And because it serves a purpose, white people don't really have an incentive to get rid of it...EVEN IF THEY DON'T AGREE WITH IT.
For instance, if you are in a boardroom or at Thanksgiving dinner and heard someone do or say something racist, you might think it's despicable. But if you like your job, your position or simply didn't want to upset your aunt Becky, you might not say anything.
4. Race is a social construct: Now, here is where I have a slight (not major) disagreement. I would argue (and I have taught) that race is an ECONOMIC construct (and I'm not just talking about money. I'm talking about supply, demand and the material manifestation of resources)
But in any case, I agree that race is just some shit that people made up. It has no basis in science, biology or genetics. It's arbitrary to believe a person from Southern Italy, a person from Eritrea, a person from Saudi Arabia & a person from Thailand are in 4 different races.
5. The interpretation and socialization of races evolve. Irish and italians were once not considered to be "white people." To keep a white majority, Hispanic people may soon be considered "white." Also, what is Hispanic, anyway? How are Dominicans "Hispanic" but Haitians "Black"?
How are Mexicans "Hispanic" but Pueblo Indians considered "Native American" just because they are separated by a river? I don't know either
Now, CRT was MOSTLY used to examine the law. For instance, to understand why enslaved Black people were counted as 3/5ths of a person in the constitution, you could point to the fact that there were more slaves in the South. You could look at congressional representation, or...
You could say: "Oh yeah, there were only white men in the room when they agreed to include that in the Constitution."

And one of the things that critical race theory says is that the idea of race-neutral "colorblindness" actually invigorates white supremacy.

Well, if white supremacy exists, and it is normal, and it benefits white people, then pretending as it doesn't exist, failing to eradicate it, or acting as if it ISN'T normal not only allows white supremacy to flourish, it FURTHER NORMALIZES it.
Take Plessy v. Ferguson for instance. For years, the US acted as if it was possible for public accommodations to be "separate but equal" because, the south believed in the idea of race, thought that separating races was "ordinary" and that policy benefitted white people.
Until Brown v. Board said "separate cannot be equal," white supremacy was so ordinary that we are STILL trying to undo its ordinariness.
This is a VERY VERY simplified explanation, but ask yourself this:


Hell no.

What may be true is that there are people who learned CRT and looked at the way history is taught and said:
"These books are filled with lies. They pretend to be colorblind but they don't include a true perspective of history."

Now you can disagree but ask yourself:

1. If it did not benefit white people, would the most powerful white men in the country fight so hard to preserve it?
2. If racism and white supremacy weren't "ordinary" then why do so many white people disagree with CRT while MOST Black people think it's important? Image

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More from @michaelharriot

Nov 10
Little known fact:

Although much has been written about America's PAST treatment of Black veterans, few people are aware that tens of thousands of Black people who served in the US Armed Forces are technically and legally excluded from Veterans Day.

A thread (and a story)
First of all, the mistreatment of Black veterans dates back to the beginning of America. Many enslaved people who fought in the American Revolution were promised their freedom.

America reneged.

Don't trust my version of history. Ask a little organization called the US Army. Image
The same thing happened during the War for White Supremacy. In fact, when white Union soldiers discovered that a Black reconnaissance scout was being paid, they demanded the Army stop paying negroes

That vet became the first woman of ANY RACE to lead a military expedition.
Read 23 tweets
Oct 30
Everyone knows the story of Nearest Green's whiskey recipe. But the Jack Daniel family's wealth ain't got SHIT on the family that made money off the scam they pulled on Stephen Slade

A thread
In 1839, Stephen Slade fell asleep in the barn.

Stephen, an "exceptionally intelligent" man, was enslaved by Abisha Slade, a farmer who inherited his land Abisha didn't know shit about farming. He was a politician who talked a good game, tho.
Even though Stephen was only 18, he was already a master blacksmith. The American form of ironworking is actually an ancient African art that was brought to America using violence or the threat of violence and Stephen learned the craft from childhood

Read 16 tweets
Sep 20
One of the most frequent questions I’ve received about Black AF History is:

“Is there something you left out?”

The first draft of the book, had a game based on my belief that every Black American is connected to one guy:

Let’s play “Six Degrees of TRM Howard”

A thread:
The story begins with a secret meeting.

On August 12, 1846, 12 men representing every state that still enslaved human beings assembled at a house on the corner of Green and Seventh Street in St. Louis, Mo. They each put their hand over their hearts and recited a pledge: Image
These were the Knights of Liberty. Organized by Moses Dickson, they traveled throughout the South training Black men for a national slave revolt

They funded the Underground Railroad and their plan was almost complete when a group the Civil War began

Read 21 tweets
Sep 5
160 years ago today, the state of Georgia refused to seat 33 Black elected officials from the state legislature, sparking a series of events that led to one of Black Twitter's most celebrated memes.

A thread.
A lot of people believe the Civil War wasn't about slavery. Those people are either liars or dumb.

Every single declaration of secession mentions slavery. The Confederate president and VP said: We're doing this for white supremacy

Well, they put it more plainly
Regardless of WHAT you believe the Civil War was about–slavery, states rights, taxes or the right to wear a handlebar mustache, one thing is not up for debate:

The traitor states concluded that they didn't want to be part of America if they couldn't have their way.
Read 26 tweets
Aug 29
He's right.

If you believe a lone racist gunman killed 3 people in Jacksonville, it's probably because you only learned a whitewashed version of history. But there is a reason why a white supremacist chose this specific location:

A thread
The shooting happened in the New Town section of Jacksonville, Fla.

Wait... Why is the black section called "New Town?"

You've probably heard about the Great Chicago Fire & the San Francisco Fire. Well, the 3rd largest urban fire in American history was in Jacksonville, Fla Image
On May 3, 1901, a fire at a factory burned 146 blocks, destroying 2,368 buildings. It left 10,000 people homeless.

The fire department decided to save the white homes and let the Black neighborhoods burn to the ground, including two historically Black colleges. Image
Read 24 tweets
Aug 19
Last year, Spike Lee interviewed me for his upcoming doc on @Kaepernick7.

He was so nice & even gave me a tour of the studios. I'm a Spike Lee stan. So when he said he loved my writing and wanted to meet me, I was too flustered to tell him that we'd met before.

A thread.
In college, I was on the board of the Black Student Union.

I don't want to make it sound like I was so militant because the school was only about 4% Black, so BSU was basically our weekly get-together.

The only other time we saw each other was at the Free Movie.
Auburn had a weekly movie for students. As long as you had a student ID, you could get in. For years, BSU complained to the University Program Council about the lack of Black films.

Of course, the UPC said: "We just choose the most popular movies that fit our budget."
Read 22 tweets

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