Chanelle Wilson is an assistant professor of education and director of Africana Studies at the affluent all-women’s Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of a new book on teaching critical race theory and anti-race practices at universities. On a recent podcast, Wilson offered a glimpse into those teachings which include the “fact” that America is a failed experiment that has done nothing for any group other than white people.
Wilson was speaking on the “Refuse Fascism” podcast with host Samantha Goldman. Goldman was the organizer of the much covered “Handmaid’s Tale” protests during the Trump Administration. Goldman, who reportedly identifies as a communist, can be seen here organizing in the 2020 election.
Wilson’s extremist views have not been widely reported outside of conservative sites like College Fix. However, in the podcast, Wilson shares an unvarnished account of what she claims to be undeniable “facts” about this failed country and the goal of this work. She insists that the country was designed and has only worked for white people. She then added that it
“didn’t work for black people” and “Damn sure it didn’t work for indigenous people… It did not work for people of Mexican ancestry. It didn’t work for Asians, it didn’t work for Jewish people, it didn’t work for Japanese people. It didn’t work for Chinese people. So who is this country for? This country is only for white people.”
She added that people of color are told by white U.S. citizens: “Don’t ask for too much, be happy that you’re allowed to be here, don’t make a ruckus, don’t say anything, don’t have a brain, don’t learn, don’t do any of those things…that is the truth.”
That truth may come as a surprise to the many in these groups. It is bizarre to claim that Jewish people and Asian people for example did not find success in this country, but Wilson claims that as an undeniable fact. Likewise, many in the Latino and Black communities have found great success in this country despite the continuing struggle with poverty in all of our communities. There is no denying a wealth gap between racial groups, which continues to trouble many in our country. However, it is ridiculous to claim that groups have not found success in this country, which continues to draw millions to our shores as immigrants.
Wilson uses the claim of America as a “failed experiment” to call for people to “recognize that none of this works for your average ‘American citizen.’ It doesn’t. So why wouldn’t we try something new? This whole experiment is failed. Their experiment has failed.” That clearly appealed to Goldman who declared “I don’t think there can be redemption until there is no America.” It was a weird moment since Goldman was an organizer for Joe Biden in 2020–just six months ago.
All of this was part of any effort to get educators and others to buy and assign her new book “Building Courage, Confidence and Capacity in Learning and Teaching Through Student-Faculty Partnership.” The book seeks to further organization student and faculty classroom collaboration in advancing critical race studies.
Despite the false factual claims and extremist rhetoric, I would be the first to defend Wilson right to espouse such views (though I am not sure either she or Goldman would feel the same inclination to defend my right to speak). We have been discussing efforts to fire professors who voice dissenting views on various issues including an effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago as well as a leading linguistics professor at Harvard and a literature professor at Penn. Sites like Lawyers, Guns, and Money feature writers like Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos who call for the firing of those with opposing views (including myself). Such campaigns have targeted teachers and students who contest the evidence of systemic racism in the use of lethal force by police or offer other opposing views in current debates over the pandemic, reparations, electoral fraud, or other issues.
The support for such diversity of thought is essential for higher education. However, that does not mean that we should not call out such inaccurate and extremist viewpoints. While figures like liberal theorist William Galston has called out critical race theory as challenging the very foundations of our country:
“one thing is clear: Because the Declaration of Independence—the founding document of the American liberal order—is a product of Enlightenment rationalism, a doctrine that rejects the Enlightenment tacitly requires deconstructing the American order and rebuilding it on an entirely different foundation.”