Monique Duson remembers standing on a street corner as a young girl in 1992, in South-Central Los Angeles, watching her neighborhood burn.
Rioting was sparked by the not guilty verdict for the police officers involved in the widely-televised arrest and beating of Rodney King. The riots were also driven by anger over the suspended sentence and $500 fine for the shooter of a 15-year-old girl, Latasha Harlins. The riots lead to 63 deaths, almost 2,400 people injured, 12,000 arrests, and property damage estimated at over $1 billion.
Growing up in a black neighborhood, Duson learned and believed “that all white people were racist, that racism would end when white people saw the benefit of ending it, and that racism was America’s biggest problem.” She also accepted that racism “was ordinary, not the exception, embedded into the fabric of our nation” – core tenets of critical race theory (CRT).
The Daily Citizen spoke with Duson, who came to Focus on the Family for Lighthouse Voices, an ongoing lecture series on pressing issues in the culture.
Duson spoke about her twenty years of believing CRT and her ministry, The Center for Biblical Unity, co-founded with Krista Bontrager, who helped Duson shift her thinking to a more Scriptural worldview. She also explained how Christians can model true unity.
Here’s some of what Daily Citizen talked about with Monique Duson, abridged and edited for clarity. You can also see the whole interview, here.
Daily Citizen: Tell us a little bit about CRT. What’s your understanding of what it’s all about?
Duson: So CRT is a secular framework. It was originally founded in 1987 by a group of Marxist thinkers, Kimberly Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Jean Stefancic, Mari Matsuda and others. They came together to deeply look into the conversation of race, racism and power within the United States. …
When you think of what critical race theory is, there are two specific definitions that I tend to go by. The first one is by Richard Delgado and his wife, Jean Stefancic, and they say that the critical race theory movement is a movement and a collection of activists and scholars who are engaged in transforming our conversation on race, racism and power within the United States. That is in their book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.
Now, in a book called Words That Wound by the same authors and others, they define critical race theory as a mix of things like critical legal studies, postmodernism, post-structuralism, and Marxism. They’ve taken bits and pieces of these different ideas to focus on race, to basically problematize the issues of race, and then offer a solution to the problems they see.
Daily Citizen: Can you explain what “systemic racism” is?
Duson: One of the tenets of critical race theory is that racism is ordinary, that it is embedded into the fabric of the American structure. So thinking about something like the judicial system, because of disparities, because there are more blacks incarcerated than whites, then there is evidence for a systemic problem within the judicial system, saying that the judicial system overall is bent toward favoring whites over blacks.
Daily Citizen: How does critical race theory propose to solve that issue? If there is systemic racism, what’s their answer for this?
Duson: So one of the ways proposed to do away with systemic injustice and systemic racism would be to advocate for or participate in “anti-racism” constantly. Doing the work of either advocating against racial injustice, speaking out against it, lobbying for it, reading certain books and all of that.
It’s basically doing away with the current hierarchy, the system of hierarchy and patriarchy. And so, we go back to the definition of critical race theory and it says that it’s a movement that is meant to transform our relationships with race, racism and power.
This brings me back to the idea of Marxism – not necessarily Marx himself – but one of the ideas that he had is that to free the proletariat or the marginalized group, there must be emancipation and revolution. The idea or the conversation around systemic racism presents the idea of emancipating through transformation or revolution.
Daily Citizen: You believed this for a long time. What changed your mind?
Duson: I lived in South Africa for a while. I moved home and I started having conversations with Krista Bontrager. We were just friends. We actually had just met, you know, a couple of months prior. And she began to ask me questions about my worldview.
Now, we both went to Biola University. She came out with two master’s degrees in theology. I came out with a sociology degree, and she upheld historic orthodox Christianity. I advocated for abortion and LGBTQ+ ideologies and breaking down systems that were perpetuated against black and brown people.
And she didn’t understand. What was my worldview? Was there a name for my worldview? And so she asked a ton of questions. And as she asked questions and I gave her my answers and then told her that her questions and answers were based in racism, she began to ask me, “Well, where do you find this biblically? Can you go to the Scripture and tell me where this idea is?”
Daily Citizen: So Scripture changed your worldview. How is your approach different from CRT? How do you have hope for racial reconciliation?
Duson: We have hope as believers because we are unified. See, unity is not our destination as believers. Unity is our starting point. And so, when we come into Christ, we become reconciled with Jesus. We’re reconciled to God. That was Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5.
Now, when we become reconciled with God, when we look into Ephesians 1 and 2, we become brothers and sisters, heirs together with Christ Jesus. So we, too, are reconciled. A friend of mine, Virgil Walker, says racists don’t reconcile. Hearts do. The idea that we need to do more work than what Christ has done to accomplish our unity simply isn’t true. What we must do is believe and understand the words of Scripture that we are unified, we are reconciled already, and then we live from that place.
The Daily Citizen and Monique Duson talked more, as she explained how Christians can work toward change and what parents can do when their children are taught this ideology in public schools. Here’s the full interview.
Center for Biblical Unity provides many resources on racial reconciliation, unity and justice, including a small group curriculum – Reconciled; explanatory papers and blog posts; videos and podcasts; and support groups for parents and families wrestling with these issues.
You can also watch Monique Duson’s powerful presentation at Lighthouse Voices.