It used to be much easier to support a celebrity for their talent — be it singer, actor, or lifestyle purveyor — and not really care what they did with the rest of their lives, but times have indeed changed. So when Chip and Joanna Gaines, the mixed-race couple who are also interior design and decor icons, recently supported a school-board candidate who is vehemently against teaching children about racism, it made us pause.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Gaines have donated $1,000 to the campaign of a candidate for the school board in Grapevine, Texas, and it’s a bit of a head scratcher. Well, it’s not really surprising because the candidate is Shannon Braun, the sister of the Fixer Upper co-host Chip. But since Braun’s campaign is based on the hot-button issue of “critical race theory” — a collection of ideas about systemic bias and privilege that conservatives have been blocking nationwide — we’re curious if this means the Gaines family supports banning critical race theory in public schools, too.
It was just about a year ago that Chip Gaines took the initiative to reach out to former NFL pro Emmanuel Acho about his video series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. After watching the episode with his wife and five children, the family appeared on the third episode to confront their “blind” spots when it comes to racism, and what they’re doing to change. That 10 minute clip has garnered over 2.7 million views to date, so it seems like it was an important conversation not only for the Gaines family, but for their fans and followers as well.
“The idea about having an uncomfortable conversation with a Black man honestly is exactly what we need at this exact time,” Chip said at the opening of the conversation.
Critical race theory is not just one idea, but a changing set of ideas, basically rooted in the desire “to understand how a regime of white supremacy and its subordination of people of color have been created and maintained in America.”
The academic movement teaches “that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies,” according to Education Week.
Conservatives fear critical race theory will change the way children in schools are being taught about American history and current events. There’s a divide about whether educators should just keep telling students the stories that they’ve been told about our nation, or if educators should start to be more forthcoming about how racism is a part of the fabric of America. Conservatives do not seem to be ready for those conversations. (Former President Trump once called teaching about racism “child abuse.”)
For Braun’s part, according to the Dallas Observer, she is promising voters that she will “give our kids the education they deserve” in part by seeking to ban critical race theory.
“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 single most divisive threat” in education.
Hmm, since critical race theory seeks to uncover racist practices in America — the laws that have been created, how people are treated, the opportunities to progress that some people are denied because of their race, and other facets of everyday life — what is the real racist action happening here? We’d have to disagree here with Braun because it seems the single most divisive threat in education is continuing to lie about our history as a nation. That’s what has landed us here in 2021, still trying to have conversations with a Black man … about his existence.
With the Gaines’ support of Braun’s campaign, financial or otherwise, it would hint that they are supporting her ideas and ideals. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the Gaines family did make a sizable donation — a total of $200,000 to racial justice organizations like the Waco NAACP and the Thurgood Marshall 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.”
With all of the thought and effort the Gaines have put into the race relations cause over the past year, it feels like a step backwards for them to give to Braun’s campaign. Maybe their donation is just one of those familial obligations and a show of support in spite of their stance on racial awareness.
These celebrity parents aren’t afraid to teach their kids about racism.