As Black History Month marches onward, it is essential to celebrate the legacies generational African-American leaders have forged in their communities. Previously, conventional history courses provided a distilled, oversimplified story of African American communities – from shackles to segregation to liberation.
Earlier this month, the College Board unveiled the Advanced Placement curriculum for their pilot African American Studies course – placing greater emphasis on the African American experience from an interdisciplinary lens.
Currently, the College Board is testing the course at 60 schools in the U.S. before expanding its framework on the national scale. Within several years, executives planned on offering the course to all schools beginning in 2025 – an unprecedented move for the American education system. That is, it would have been – if not for the widespread backlash it promptly received.
Alarmingly, many far-right extremists do not view this development in a positive light. Under the purview of racist rhetoric, many Great Replacement Theory sympathizers criticized the program as anti-American and containing anti-capitalist rhetoric. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even threatened to ban the coursework after citing its coverage of queer studies, intersectionality, and Black Lives Matter as divisive and inappropriate.
Not too long after the initial outcry, the College Board caved into their demands by removing these topics from the formal curriculum. This phenomenon is neither a one-time occurrence nor without precedent. The continuing mania regarding critical race theory is a prime example of bad-faith actors intentionally setting back progress in race relations by riling up their respective bases. This debacle is among the most jarring implications of the spread of the Great Replacement Theory and its reprehensible ideals. Any attempt to shed light against the traditionalist framework is ostracized as wicked and antithetical to American principles. As long as the facade of an existential threat can be made, supporters will continue to cast meaningful solutions in a negative light.
MPAC has conducted extensive policy research with regards to the Great Replacement Theory and its origins. In short, the Great Replacement Theory is a widely debunked conspiracy positing that immigration (especially from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa) is a globalist scheme to replace white indigenous populations and their traditions. In our published policy brief The Great Enrichment Counter Narrative, Senior Fellow Amine Naceur emphasizes that the Replacement Theory is premised on framing immigration as an invasion of uncivilized groups. Going even further, advocates believe that such an influx of migrants will bring about an intended radical transformation of social, cultural, and political customs in the United States.
Despite its glaring ideological flaws, the Great Replacement Theory has become a pervasive line of thought within conservative circles. Currently, roughly 61 percent of Americans who previously voted for former President Donald Trump agree with the Replacement Theory to some degree. Several public officials, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Texas), and Rep. Brian Babin, have outright declared public support for the conspiracy – all while conservative (or right-wing) media outlets broadcast their views to widespread audiences.
Collectively, these public officials and media outlets have legitimized the incendiary rhetoric posed by the Replacement Theory – creating an ideological pipeline through which undiscerning citizens channel their socioeconomic frustrations into racial animosity. Furthermore, this dangerous trend coincides with unprecedented demographic change in the United States, with multiracial groups growing at a staggering 10 million to 34 million in the last decade.
The implications of the Great Replacement Theory are both boundless and dangerous for people of color. Beyond a stark increase in racially-motivated hate crimes, MPAC believes the conspiracy has and will continue to affect voting rights for African-Americans. As Fellow Naceur asserts, the Great Replacement Theory relies on the assumption that immigrants are a homogenous group that uniformly votes for the Democratic Party. And in light of the 2020 general election, many far-right extremists have conflated their allegations of voter fraud with Democratic voters.
Taken together, the Great Replacement Theory has thus created an ideological justification for passing voting discrimination laws under the guise of electoral integrity. By passing stricter voter ID laws, several conservative states have widened racial turnout gaps that remain even after their removal. In 2021, more than 440 bills in 49 states were introduced in state legislatures that would restrict voting access disproportionately to people of color. These measures include, but are not limited to, harsher registration compliance deadlines, prohibiting same-day voter registration, rejecting mail-in ballots, reducing polling locations in urban areas, and imposing ex-felon disenfranchisement laws.
MPAC views these efforts as antithetical to the fundamental notions of American democracy. It undermines the nuance and diversity of minority communities and effectively reduces them to a mere statistic – yet another ballot to disenfranchise and another supposed threat to American tradition. In short, the Great Replacement Theory regards voting as an exclusive privilege rather than an unalienable sacred rite – a direct challenge to the notion of strength through our collective unity that is enshrined in every American institution: E Pluribus Unum – “out of many, one.” By preying on primitive fears within conservative circles, the Replacement Theory looks to a warped, idealized caricature of the United States rather than the promising future immigrants bring each and every day.
The rise in voting discrimination in conjunction with support for the Great Replacement Theory is an especially alarming trend for the American Muslim community, many of whom are immigrants or first-generation Americans. Comprising nearly a fifth of the American Muslim community, African-Americans are faced with especially undue political burdens in the ballot box and as victims of violent hate crimes. Such a trend can discourage our community to engage with the political system, believing that our contributions will amount to nothing as discrimination continues to take center stage.
However, only through collective action can we overcome the rapid spread of baseless conspiracies. In response to the Great Replacement, MPAC has developed a counter narrative coined “The Great Enrichment” that reaffirms the immeasurable value immigration has brought to the United States over the years. From a cultural, economic, and political perspective, immigrants have contributed significantly towards the country’s productivity and intellectual diversity – ushering an era of prosperity and establishing the foundations of modern American society.
Through this lens, we concluded that by implementing a strategic plan at the federal level, we can shift public discourse on immigration from “replacement” to “enrichment.” To this end, on February 22, MPAC is hosting The Implications of the Great Replacement Theory, a webinar discussing GRT as it relates to voting rights. Featuring Texas state Representative Ron Reynolds, Civil Rights Lawyer Leslie Proll, and American University Literature Professor Sarah Trembath, this event encourages our American Muslim community to reflect on a pressing challenge to our fundamental civic duty. We invite you to join us as we shed further light on the Great Enrichment Counter Narrative and encourage its spread in political discourse.
The Implications of the Great Replacement Theory Webinar
To register for this webinar, please click here.