Vernon Jones, a Trump-supporting former Democrat who’s currently a candidate in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 2022 gubernatorial election, said earlier this week that he would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.
But in a new interview with Marc Lamont Hill for Black News Tonight, Jones declined to offer an explanation for what he believes critical race theory—often referred to as simply CRT—is.
A little over a minute into the video above, Jones is asked about his goal of banning CRT, which resulted in the former Georgia House of Representatives member talking about Christopher Columbus.
“Well, actually, I think it’s different depending on who’s teaching it and how they’re teaching it,” Jones said. “I think you can agree with that. We were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Well, you and I both know that Christopher Columbus got lost. People were already living here. But there are those who are using their own ideology and their own party affiliation to go to the extreme and that’s what I’m trying to address here.”
From there, Hill repeatedly asked Jones to simply define CRT, arguing that he should be able to readily explain something he’s so passionate about banning.
“For example, if I said I was against creationism, I would say creationism is x, y, and z,” Hill said, again asking Jones to define CRT.
“Well, first of all, again, I can tell you but it’s left up to you to understand,” Jones said. “I can’t make you understand. The fact of it is that critical race theory, even on its basis, should not be taught in our schools. Period.”
Given that this response wasn’t an answer to the question, Hill again pressed Jones for an explanation. At this point, Jones appeared agitated and decided to deflect and demand that Hill explain it instead.
“Obviously, you don’t know and you haven’t told your audience,” Jones said, inspiring a laugh from Hill. Jones then continued to talk over Hill, resulting in a series of stops and starts during which Hill pointed out that Columbus “has nothing to do with critical race theory.”
After Jones said Hill was “as dumb as two left shoes,” the BNC News host told his show team to cut off Jones’ mic.
“You’re not gonna come on my show and call me dumb,” Hill said. “What I will tell you is that critical race theory is a theory that actually emerged out of critical legal studies. It is a theory that makes an attempt to understand the law through the lens of race and it’s founded on some fundamental presumptions. One is the intractability of race and racism, meaning it’s an intractable problem in America and that we have to use the lens of race to make sense of things. It also is based on the use of counterstories. … These are two big theories, two big pillars of it. And so what we wanna do is, if you wanna ban it, you have to explain to me why.”
At the end of the segment, Hill addressed both Republicans at large and Jones specifically, noting that deflection was only used when an answer to a question can’t be provided.
“All of these Republicans, all of these non-scholars, they say ‘I’m gonna ban critical race theory’ and they can’t answer it,” he said. “And then [Jones] says, ‘If you can’t answer it then you must not know’ which is on some, like, ‘he who smelt it dealt it’ kind of logic. The fact of the matter is, he can’t define it because he doesn’t know what it is.”
After the clip of the interview was shared on social media Wednesday, Jones took to Twitter to respond to the ensuing criticism. In one tweet, he referred to critical race theory as both “a slap in the face of Dr. King’s teachings” and “anti-white racism.”