In the words of my Jezebel colleague Harron Walker: They’re talking about “critical race theory” again........
This time it’s Shannon Braun, a candidate for a school board in Grapevine, Texas, and the sister of Fixer Upper star Chip Gaines. Perhaps unsurprisingly—but still notably—Chip and his wife and co-host Joanna Gaines have both donated $1,000 to support her campaign.
According to the Dallas Observer, Braun is promising voters that she will “give our kids the education they deserve” in part by seeking to ban what she and other conservatives commonly refer to as “critical race theory,” even though I’m certain neither Braun nor her ideological allies would be able to define the theory if pressed. “I will vote down anything and everything that further promotes critical race theory in our school district and actively work to remove all critical race theory,” she pledged in a campaign video, calling it the “the single most divisive threat” in education.
Though, again, it’s hardly surprising that the Gaineses are supporting a family member, it’s a comical pivot from last June, when the couple appeared on the YouTube show “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” to talk about race. Having those conversations, Chip said, was “exactly what we need for this exact time.” That same month, the Gainses had donated a total of $200,000 to racial justice organizations like the Waco NAACP and the Thurgood Marshal College Fund, and announced plans to implement diversity and inclusion training for their employees. “There is much work to be done,” they said in a joint statement. “We are eager to walk forward in humility, with open hands and hearts.”
Apparently those hands and hearts snapped shut when it came time for Braun to ramp up her campaign, which is diametrically opposed to discussions about race. Critical race theory, an academic framework based on the idea that racism is a social construct embedded in our laws and institutions, has quickly become a hobbyhorse for conservatives, who use the term as a white nationalist dog whistle. (Perhaps not even a dog whistle—just a whistle.) And on Monday, Axios reported that a new conservative political action committee has just launched to fund school board candidates who hold the same views on the study of race as Braun.
Instead of donating $1,000 to this sinister cause, Chip could have had another “uncomfortable conversation”—with his sister.