by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The fight over critical race theory (CRT) in America’s schools has featured woke “anti-racists” trying to justify a variety of troubling practices by insisting they’re grounded in expertise and evidence. This has been especially noticeable when it comes to the defense of “racial affinity spaces.”
Just what are “racial affinity spaces”? Well, while President Biden likes to denounce various Republican policies as the “new Jim Crow,” affinity spaces are the old Jim Crow. Affinity spaces involve schools encouraging students or staff to separate into segregated, race-based groups. The practice usually entails one group for black participants, a second for “non-black people of color,” and a third for white participants, typically in order to discuss issues of race, “equity,” policing, and such. In all this, the “anti-racists” seem comfortable resurrecting practices clearly at odds with the 1964 Civil Rights Act — practices that would’ve been warmly cheered by segregationists of the American South or the architects of South African apartheid.
Remarkably, the CRT lobby has gotten away with asserting that there’s some science or evidence to justify all this, despite a startling lack of research or data. …
… The question arises: Setting aside the lack of proffered evidence, is there in fact any evidence to which they could have pointed?
As it turns out, not so much. Indeed, given the thousands of education professors in American schools of education, one might imagine there’d be a mass of research on this hot-button question. Yet a comprehensive search of the academic databases ProQuest and Google Scholar returns just five articles purporting to examine the benefits of “racial affinity” spaces in K–12 schooling (other articles on affinity groups focus on things such as video games or community centers). To grasp how astonishingly tiny this figure truly is, it’s useful to know that these same databases return more than 147,000 results on “K–12 school transportation.”