Civil rights activist Carol Swain, who was just named to President Trump’s “1776 Commission” to teach American heritage, told Just the News this week she is dismayed that “affluent black kids are demanding lowered standards” instead of equal treatment under the law.
Swain, a prominent African-American social and political commentator, said she’s also horrified that left-leaning activists today are dismissing time-tested social virtues and institutions like punctuality, proper grammar, the nuclear family, diligence and perseverance as examples of “whiteness” or “white-dominant culture.”
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture this summer “had an exhibit that talked about hard work and getting to places on time and standard English, and all of those things that helped make for our success, that those things were part of the white oppression,” Swain noted on her Conversations with Dr. Carol Swain podcast last week. “I mean, it’s the most ridiculous thing that I’ve ever heard of.”
In an interview on “Just the News AM” television program on Wednesday, Swain expanded on her critique.
“I certainly take issue with it, because it seems like we have gone backwards when it comes to race relations,” said the 66-year-old Swain. “During my generation, we wanted equal opportunity. We wanted to be able to get into places to show what we could do. And now, all of a sudden, when we are so prosperous, when black people are in positions of power throughout our society, all of a sudden, these affluent black kids are demanding lowered standards. And so it’s a reversal. And the progressives, the white progressives who push it and go along with it, they are the true racists. They’ve always been racist.”
Swain said the “soft bigotry of low expectations” lamented by former President George W. Bush in a 2000 speech to the NAACP was still relevant today and even exacerbated by the rising popularity of critical race theory, or the ideas underpinning the concept of “white privilege.”
“The affirmative action movement was never about lowered standards or special benefits, it was about equal opportunity and non-discrimination,” Swain said. “And with the critical race theory, what’s taking place with diversity, equity inclusion programs, it is reverse racism against whites. I believe it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, and the 1964 Civil Rights movement. The shaming, the bullying, all of the things that are taking place today against white people. And I’m not a black white supremacist. I’m a person who believes in the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. I believe in civil rights laws. I don’t believe anyone should be discriminated against because of the color of their skin. That includes white people.”
Swain is a retired professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University and previously received tenure as an associate professor of politics and public policy at Princeton University.
“Eventually, I left the university environment because of what it had become,” Swain recalled. “What I had experienced was not particular to Vanderbilt. Universities have been taken over in a way that’s detrimental to the whole process of education. They’re no longer marketplaces for ideas. And what is taking place on college and university campuses, including some Christian ones, is totally the opposite of what you would expect. And it’s because of critical theory, which is related to cultural Marxism and the decline of our society.”
Swain is troubled by movements like the 1619 Project, which seeks to reframe America’s history lessons through the narrative of America as a fundamentally racist nation fatally flawed from its inception. She belongs to 1776 Unites, a coalition led by veteran civil rights activist Robert Woodson that offers an alternative to the 1619 Project.
“It’s just such a reversal for our society, and one of the things that’s troubling is the historical revisionism,” Swain said. “And that is something that’s destructive to our society, because every nation needs to remember its past. And America is not an evil country. America is a great country where so many people have risked their lives to come here to live, and all of a sudden we’re destroying our country from within.”