Republicans targeted U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Tuesday over her connection to a school that teaches anti-racism, branding the curriculum under the GOP boogeyman of “critical race theory.”
In an email blast telling supporters that Jackson serves on the board of trustees at Georgetown Day School — a private school in Washington, D.C., that has students from pre-K to 12th grade — Republicans balked at numerous ways the institution plans to address and combat racism.
Those plans include a segregation simulation in elementary school classrooms to teach students about a practice that was still in place in the U.S. a mere six years ago; financing attendance at conferences focused on white privilege; providing anti-racism books to families and teachers; and fostering various affinity groups for students with shared identities ― something the GOP claimed in its email was “effectively just racial segregation.”
The email also emphasized that Jackson told the school’s magazine that she has witnessed “the transformative power of a rigorous progressive education that is dedicated to fostering critical thinking, independence, and social justice.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) brought up Jackson’s work with Georgetown Day School during her confirmation hearing. Shortly after the GOP’s email blast went out, he questioned her and held up a copy of the children’s book “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi.
“Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that the babies are racist?” Cruz asked Jackson. “Antiracist Baby,” which is mostly illustrations and promotes the idea that young children can be taught to combat racism, is not even one of the books Georgetown Day School suggests to families.
“I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist or though they are not valued,” Jackson replied.
“So you agree critical race theory is taught Georgetown Day School?” Cruz asked.
“I don’t, because the board does not control the curriculum,” Jackson explained. “That’s not what we do.”
Nowhere in the magazine’s profile on Jackson nor in the school’s lengthy Anti-Racism Action Plan posted to its website does Georgetown Day School mention critical race theory, an advanced academic framework primarily taught in law and graduate schools. The concept focuses on the ways racism is deeply embedded in our policies and laws rather than on racism as the product of individual prejudice.
After the police killing of George Floyd instigated a reckoning about race around the country in 2020, including commitments by many institutions to enact anti-racism policies, Republican lawmakers began pushing back. Capitalizing on their base’s opposition to cultural changes, they began passing state laws banning critical race theory in schools. Educators, meanwhile, said the laws would prevent them from teaching major topics in American history and current events — including slavery and the civil rights movement.
It’s no surprise the GOP is now connecting Jackson, who could be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, to something they’ve been using to rile up their base.
“We now know Jackson helps oversee a school where CRT is being forced into classrooms. She is proud of it. Would she bring that CRT advocacy to the court?” reads the GOP email from Tuesday.
The charges in the email were quickly picked up by Fox News, which wrote several paragraphs about anti-racism resources by well-known researchers and academics that Georgetown Day School has recommended to parents and educators.
Georgetown Day School did not immediately respond to requests for comment.