Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
In a 1963 interview with Louis Lomax, Nation of Islam spokesman Malcolm X, commenting on white people, said that “The white devil’s time is up . . ,” and that “Anybody who rapes, and plunders, and enslaves, and steals, and drops hell bombs on people . . . anybody who does these things is nothing but a devil.” NOI’s Louis Farrakhan has often repeated the same slur about white people being satanic, and such language has long been part of the organization’s radical, anti-white discourse and ideology.
What is surprising, however, is that this same view—of whiteness being linked to the devil in a satanic pact through which white people are given supremacy, power, and wealth—has made its way into a children’s book used in school districts all over the country.
Written by a white woman, Anastasia Higginbotham, Not my Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things), at first appears to be an innocuous picture book about race, but its not-so-subtle “anti-whiteness” message is part of the race indoctrination being promoted in public schools as part of critical race theory (CRT) and the ideology which teaches children that white people are irredeemable racist oppressors and blacks are perpetual victims of that oppressive white supremacy and racism. Not My Idea tells the story of a white family in which the white parents shelter their child from the reality of police violence against black people, the suggestion being that white people turn a blind eye to this form of racial injustice and, in not standing up against it and teaching their children to do so also, they are complicit in that injustice and in perpetuating white supremacy.
Higginbotham (pictured above) clearly was inspired by her self-loathing at being white and presents her assumptions as facts for the young readers in her book. “Whiteness is the reason these killings by police happen,” she said in an interview, “the white cultural mindset that tells us white is good and innocent, while Black is bad and dangerous.”
She also has apparently bought into the false and dangerous view, promoted most notably by the Black Lives Matter movement, that white police officers frequently and maliciously kill unarmed black people because of systemic and prevalent racism, a belief, however, that is not actually supported by facts or reality. “Whiteness is the reason cops make split-second decisions to fire their weapons into the body of an unarmed person who is Black,” Higginbotham suggested, “while not even reaching for their weapon during interactions with armed and violent criminals who are white.”
CRT clearly has as its guiding intention to change what Higginbotham referred to as “the white cultural mindset that tells us white is good and innocent, while Black is bad and dangerous.” In fact, CRT and books like this one have as their express purpose to flip this paradigm on its head, so that children are now being indoctrinated with the idea that whiteness is essentially bad, negative, oppressive, cruel, and racist, and that blackness, because of its victim status and as a result of its oppression, is virtuous and innocent. CRT does not teach tolerance by urging school children to be kind to each other and treat each other as equals, which it purports to do, but instead elevates blackness by degrading whiteness, making white people seem to be regressive, intolerant, hateful, and perennially racist as part of their very nature. Thus, CRT is condemned by its critics for branding white children in this way while at the same time telegraphing to black children that they are perpetual victims in a society dominated by whites who are morally defective as a result of their racist core.
Not My Idea has found its way into classrooms and on reading lists of more than 30 school districts in 15 states around the country, and critics are particularly troubled by one section of the book in which a white character with the red pointed tail of the devil presents a Faustian bargain with the book’s main character with a “Contract Binding you to Whiteness.” After announcing that “WHITENESS IS A BAD DEAL, It always was,” children read the satanic contract which, for the white recipient, promises offers of “stolen land,” “stolen riches” and “special favors,” presumably derived from, and to the detriment of, people of color. In exchange for “WHITENESS” which gets “your soul,” the recipient is able “to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones and all fellow humans of COLOR” and, of course, “for the purpose of profit,” reinforced graphically with the image of a $20 bill blazoned behind the contract and flames of hell.
Documents for a lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, Deemar v. Board of Education of the City of Evanston/Skokie (“District 65”), noted that “in 2020 and 2021, all teachers from Pre-K through fifth grade [in the ditsrict] were instructed to read aloud” from Not My Idea, including such views that “Racism is a white person’s problem and we are all caught up in it . . ;” “Even people you love may behave in ways that show they think they are the good ones . . ;” “In the United States of America, white people have committed outrageous crimes against Black people for four hundred years . . ;” and “White supremacy has been lying to kids for centuries.”
The lawsuit further revealed how teachers purposely use the book to indoctrinate students with the notion of the permanence and evil of white supremacy. “District 65,” the lawsuit read, “also instructed fifth grade teachers to repeat out loud to students, ‘The author says that grown ups hide scary things from kids because they are scared too. This is called burying the truth . . . It is something many White people do to ignore racism when they feel uncomfortable.’” Additionally, those same teachers were instructed “to repeat out loud to students, ‘Pretending not to see color is called color blindness. Color blindness helps racism. . . . Many White people use color blindness to ignore the problem of racism.’”
Imagine for a moment the paroxysms of outrage that would arise were the language of this book changed and the devil in the story had made a contract with another ethnic group, as it did here with white people, along with language that defined what characteristics that group would have. Would language be tolerated by teachers and school boards that described Muslims, for example, as perpetually engaged in jihad against infidels, who subjugate women and behead and stone unbelievers and apostates, who do not accommodate other faiths and demand that other religions live in dhimmitude, and who are the most frequent perpetrators of terrorism? What if the story was revised and instead of white people it was Jews making the contract with the devil, for which they were given control of the media, ownership of banks and great wealth, dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel, and the ability to initiate and profit from all wars? Would educators notice that bigoted language?
Or, even more relevant to this discussion about race, if the devil had contracted with black people in this story and attributed to them behavior which included over-representation in prison populations and the commission of crimes, fatherless homes, high percentages of black children born out of wedlock, low academic achievement compared to other ethnic groups, and a breakdown of the nuclear family in black communities, how would teachers react to that list of ascribed characteristics and what is the likelihood that such a book would ever find its way onto a public school reading list in the first place? Of course, none of these alternate versions would ever be adopted by educators precisely because, even if some of the assertions are truthful, they are animated by toxic stereotypes and bigotry and would be immediately rejected by any schools, woke or otherwise.
Another children’s book, Something Happened in Our Town (A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice) is being used by educators to promote the notion that white law enforcement is biased against black people and randomly and frequently murders black people without cause. In the book, children read about an unarmed black man who is shot by police accidentally, even though, as Michael Brown was alleged to have done, held his arms up to surrender. When a little girl asks, “why did the police shoot that man?” her father replies that “the police thought he had a gun.” But the girl’s sister contends that “It wasn’t a mistake.” “The cops shot him because he was Black.”
Moreover, according to the girl’s mother, although “shooting him was a mistake,” “It was a mistake that is part of a pattern.” And what is this pattern the book suggested guides law enforcement in its interaction with black people? The mother suggests that “this pattern is being nice to White people and mean to Black people. It’s an unfair pattern.” Further, the book suggested, “cops stick together and don’t like black people” and the victim who was shot and killed by the police in the story “wouldn’t even have been stopped if driver was white.”
Older children are introduced to another popular, though problematic book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored by Jason Reynolds and the controversial “anti-racist” Ibram X. Kendi. In the “Educators Guide, Ages 12 and Up” for the book, teachers are instructed to push radical views onto students, including the idea that public education itself is racist and “Racist ideas rooted in legislation shape the institution of education and its outcomes for Black children, while the nation’s leaders assert that color blindness is the solution for racism.”
“In Stamped,” the guide continued in suggesting what the key themes are that should be taught in the classroom, “Reynolds exposes and debunks the myths of several master narrative themes such as: America is a meritocracy and anyone who works hard enough can succeed; truth and justice (or law and order) should be valued; people should be colorblind.” Even some of the core values and virtues which define the United States are attacked in the suggested lesson plans, including the notion in the book that “Racist ideas, along with economic greed, are central to the formation of this nation, its laws, policies, and practices. Meritocracy and the American Dream narrative are rooted in whiteness.”
Virtue signaling teachers and school boards who select and use these types of books to divide children and make them more aware of the color of their skin, and more aware of what their peers think about them depending on whether they are black or white, are clearly not promoting tolerance or racial justice, as many of them purport to be doing.
In fact, they are violating both the intent and spirit of 14th Amendment protections which guarantee equal protection to all citizens. CRT divides the world into black and white, with specific and permanent characteristics assigned to each group of children depending on their skin color, exactly what the courts have found to be in violation of the law.
“Classifications of citizens based solely on race,” the Court found in a 1993 decision, “are by their nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality, because they threaten to stigmatize persons by reason of their membership in a racial group and to incite racial hostility,” something which, it would seem, would be antithetical to the mission and purpose of public education, especially in the pursuit of racial equity and social justice.