As a law professor closely associated with the critical race theory movement for more than 30 years, I am astonished. Most academic work never gets noticed at all, and ours is being publicly vilified, even banned. While we wrote footnotes and taught our classes, did our ideas become the new orthodoxy in American society and the foundation of K-12 education, as our critics charge?
CRT is not a racialist ideology that declares all whites to be privileged oppressors, and CRT is not taught in public schools.
But over the past nine months or so, first slowly in right-wing media conversation and now quickly in state houses and even mainstream newspapers, conservative activists have branded all race reform efforts in education and employment as CRT—a disinformation campaign designed to rally disaffected middle- and working-class white people against progressive change.
If you understand what CRT actually is, though, it’s easy to see that it has nothing to do with the cartoonish picture of reverse racism that its critics depict. And, more importantly, CRT is a pretty good lens for understanding why the campaign against it has been able to spread so fast.
The multiracial, multigenerational popular mobilization in the wake of the murder of George Floyd last summer is a sign that the old strategy is weakening. And, while it is a lie that CRT itself is being taught to elementary and high school students, it is likely true that many teachers and administrators in school systems across the country have been motivated since George Floyd’s murder to include themes of racial justice in their schools.
This basic effort to tell the truth—the inspiring as well as the ugly—about American history and government must be encouraged, not denounced. Most readers can recall in their own educations the tired and idealized cartoons of civics and American history that has held sway for generations in American schools. It is a good thing that teachers and other school officials are trying to change that by taking a more thoughtful and accurate approach to our history, and being more honest about what needs fixing. And as they do, it’s worth bearing in mind that what’s really under attack right now isn’t the bogeyman of “critical race theory”— it’s the modest and long overdue change being ushered in by teachers and school administrators. They may never have heard of CRT, but they intuitively understand why it exists—and rightfully see the absurdity of the conservative charge that teaching about racism is itself racist.
Read the entire piece here.