In a hearing ostensibly meant to assess whether Jackson is qualified to serve on the highest court in the land, the Republican senator brought up critical race theory — an academic concept taught primarily at the university and graduate levels that has since turned into a political flashpoint — in K-12 schools.
Cruz focused the bulk of his questions, however, on two children’s books — “Antiracist Baby” and “Stamped (For Kids).” And his characterizations of those titles were largely distorted.
Since the hearing, two of the titles referenced by Cruz skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists. For readers curious about the contents of the children’s books, here’s what they are really about.
The book: “Antiracist Baby,” written by Ibram X. Kendi and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. It’s a picture book for children.
The claim: Cruz said he was “stunned” by the ideas in the book.
“One portion of the book says, ‘Babies are taught to be racist or antiracist — there is no neutrality.’ Another portion of the book: They recommend that babies ‘confess when being racist,'” he said at the hearing. Cruz added that the book is taught to students at Georgetown Day School to children ages 4 to 7, asking Jackson, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”
The reality: Cruz’s characterization takes the ideas found in the book out of context.
In “Antiracist Baby,” Kendi contends that children are not born racist but learn racist attitudes from an early age from the world around them. To counter those messages, Kendi writes, parents and caregivers should help children learn to be antiracist.
The book encourages children to openly acknowledge differences in skin color, rather than pretending they don’t exist. It asks them to celebrate differences across cultures, to not see any one group as better or worse than another and to be constantly learning and growing. It invites them to talk openly about race and admit where they might have fallen short.
Crucially, “Antiracist Baby” advises children to “point at policies as the problem, not the people” and proclaims that “even though all races are not treated the same, we are all human.”
Stamped (For Kids)
The book: “Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You,” adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul and illustrated by Rachelle Baker. The book is a children’s version of the history book for young adults “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi — which, in turn, is an adaptation of Kendi’s bestseller “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”
The claim: Cruz called this book “astonishing.”
Turning open the book, he said to Jackson, “On page 33, it asks the question, ‘Can we send White people back to Europe?’ …….