Governor Kristi Noem took to Facebook last Friday to acknowledge the racist, colonialist history of America’s boarding schools/concentration camps for American Indian children and the long-delayed repatriation of the remains of nine Lakota children from the infamous Carlisle boarding school in Pennsylvania to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. In doing so, some FB respondents point out, Governor Noem practiced critical race theory.
“One of the main reasons why we study history is to learn from both our triumphs and our mistakes,” wrote the Governor. “Sometimes those mistakes are painful to admit, but we study them nonetheless so that we can ensure that they are never repeated.” Governor Noem here states exactly the premise and purpose of critical race theory, making the dominant class uncomfortably aware of its past errors and helping them gain knowledge to avert further error:
For members of the dominating society, CRT provokes a “cognitive conflict to jar white dysconscious racism” (Ladson-Billings, 1998, p. 16),disrupting particular beliefs about the world. CRT then provides crucial knowledge to white people because it helps them “grasp what it is like to be nonwhite” (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001, p. 39); that is, counterstorytelling serves to “help us understand what life is like for others and invite the reader into a new and unfamiliar world” (p. 41) [Jeannette Haynes Writer, “Unmasking, Exposing, and Confronting: Critical Race Theory, Tribal Critical Race Theory and Multicultural Education,” International Journal of Multicultural Education, vol. 10 no. 2, 2008.
Governor Noem says, “In meetings with the tribes, I heard stories of heartbreak, appreciated the need for closure on this part of their history, and respected how important it was to have these children appropriately identified and returned to their homelands.” Here she embodies the core critical race theory practice of giving voice to people of color to speak truth to their colonizers:
The goal of CRT is to construct an alternative reality by naming one’s reality through storytelling and counterstorytelling; thus, the advantage of CRT is the voice that it provides people of color. Examples of “voice” include “parables, chronicles, stories, counterstories, poetry, fiction, and revisionist histories” (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995, p. 57). CRT allows for the contestation, deconstruction, and reshaping of the master narrative by enlisting multiple perspectives and experiences as sources of valid knowledge which serve as catalysts for transformation.
…Indigenous scholars (Brayboy, 2005; Haynes Writer, 2002b, 2008; Hermes, 1999; Rains, 2003; Williams, 1997) began employing CRT to examine the effects of race, racism, and power in our communities and on ourselves and utilized CRT as a mechanism to perform truth-telling—to speak back to colonization and oppression.
…CRT and TribalCrit generate truths about colonization in larger social and structural contexts, facilitating change. “Since the truth about injustices perpetuated against Indigenous People has been largely denied in the United States, truth-telling becomes an important strategy for decolonization” (Wilson & Yellow Bird, 2005, p. 7) [Haynes Writer, 2008].
So in one weekend, Kristi Noem practiced critical race theory and said she hates America. Talk about fouling up a conservative GOP campaign strategy!