Critical Race Theory

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an offshoot of Marxism. “Critical theory,” a branch of Marxism that originated in Germany in the late 1920s, differed from ordinary Marxism by focusing on ideological warfare that undermined bourgeois institutions’ legitimacy. In the 1970s, Harvard law professor Derrick Bell took the lead in adapting Marxist critical theory to civil rights and came up with “critical race theory.” He asserted that seemingly fair and open institutions had a hidden, racist component that blocked black progress. Originally an academic movement, CRT gained adherents who realized it could be an effective rhetorical tool applied to virtually every area of politics and society.

CRT tears down every intellectual presumption that supports the American republic—the equality of individual citizens under the law, the dedication of our constitution and our laws to the preservation of liberty, the presumption that our fellow citizens are equally capable of moral reasoning, the essential moral worth of our republic, and the very possibility of a disengaged inquiry into truth.

CRT substitutes, as an axiom rather than an argument, the belief that America is a “systemically racist” country in a systemically racist world, whose pro-white systemic racism shapes every aspect of our politics, economy, society, culture, and individual psychology. It further asserts that every difference in outcomes between identity groups must be exclusively the consequence of systemic racism. Its corollary is that all intellectual inquiry and political endeavor must be subordinated to the “antiracist” revolutionary struggle to “liberate” America and the world from systemic racism.

CRT’s liberation firstly requires imposing “equity”—equal outcomes for all identity groups in every aspect of politics, society, and culture. An equally important goal of this liberation is to remove “implicit bias” from all areas of life, by means of the constant censorship and self-censorship of every individual word and action. A crucial corollary is that all opposition to CRT is morally illegitimate “racism,” and that all opponents of CRT should be silenced and/or removed from any position of political, social, or cultural power. CRT, in sum, is a racist theory that makes race the only salient issue in every aspect of American politics, society, and culture, stigmatizes every individual white American as systemically racist by virtue of his race, and seeks to delegitimize and eliminate all expressed opposition.

CRT in the schools transforms civics education into anti-civic education—disbelief in the intellectual principles that sustain the republic, hatred of a supposedly systemically racist regime, and vocational training in CRT activism intended to revolutionize the country. More broadly, CRT subordinates all intellectual endeavors to CRT activism. It demoralizes and demeans white students by telling them that not only their views but also their very lives are illegitimate, while it flatters all other students by proclaiming that their vices and shortcomings are either the fault of systemic racism or virtues and accomplishments to be celebrated. It propagandizes vulnerable children who are in no position to discern such propaganda from truth or to assert their own critical independence.

Above all CRT turns education into an exercise in learning to repeat obvious falsehoods rather than to learn truth—to deny the evident reality that claiming victim status often does confer privilege or immunity from ordinary standards, by such means as group identity preference programs, lowered disciplinary standards, and the non-prosecution of violent BLM rioters.

Radicals Have Imposed CRT in Schools Throughout America

Radicals have been smuggling CRT into schools for a generation now, and since ca. 2019 have sought to impose it openly. They use an ever-growing list of euphemisms to smuggle in CRT, including accountability, advocacy, ally, antiracism, bias, cultural appropriation, cultural competency, culturally responsive, decolonization, diversity, equity, Eurocentrism, false consciousness, healing, identity, implicit bias, inequity, institutional racism, internalized racism, intersectionality, microaggressions, movement building, multicultural competency, oppression, power, prejudice, privilege, reparations, restorative justice, settler colonialism, structural racism, systemic racism, white fragility, white supremacy, and whiteness.

Radicals use an enormous variety of means to insert CRT into the schools—federal grants and rules, state education department rules, curricula, and teacher trainings, professional “standards,” school district initiatives, school initiatives, and individual teacher initiatives. Most coercive are state legislative initiatives. A sampling of state bills just in 2021 that would forward CRT education include:

These CRT initiatives are too numerous to be cataloged. Parents in any part of the country will likely find dozens, at the federal, state, and local level, which damage their own children’s education.

Fighting Back: A Legislative History

State governments so far have passed three laws to restrict CRT. A further 36 bills and resolutions have been introduced to restrict or condemn CRT, 4 at the federal level and 32 in 17 states.

Laws Enacted

Bills Submitted

CRT Is Presumptively Illegal

CRT programs and teaching presumptively violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—“No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The federal government, however, has either failed to enforce the law or has actively supported CRT programs. Lawsuits might bring the federal judiciary ultimately to rule against CRT—but this is a long-term strategy.

State Legislation

We support state legislation to restrict CRT. We particularly support efforts such as Texas House Bill 3979 and South Carolina House Bill 4392, which use the language of the Partisanship Out of Civics Act model legislation, drafted by Stanley Kurtz. These bills provide a simple, comprehensive way to make CRT programs illegal. Their carefully crafted language is likely to survive legal challenge.

State legislators’ should also consider the Alliance for Free Citizens’ model legislation, The Teaching Racial and Universal Equality (“TRUE”) Act.

We further support campaigns in each state to rescind every law that authorizes CRT programs. Yet there are so many such laws that rescinding one or a few laws may have minimal effect. We believe the priority should be to pass legislation that positively prohibits CRT programs.

State legislation still needs to be enforced, and most state education department administrators will likely fail to enforce laws that prohibit CRT, unless they are prodded by state legislators. We urge the passage of state laws, but we realize that enforcement of anti-CRT state laws will require substantial effort as well.

Local Initiatives

Americans must fight to take control of their local school districts. They must elect school board members who take active steps to ensure that administrators and teachers do not impose CRT.

Resources to Track Critical Race Theory Initiatives

Legal Insurrection Foundation: Critical Race Training in Education

Christopher Rufo: CRT Legislation Tracker


Open States

What’s Wrong with Critical Race Theory: Further Reading

Legal Insurrection Foundation: Critical Race Training in Education: Learn More

James Lindsay, “What is Critical Race Theory?”

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, “A Beginner’s Curriculum on Critical Race Theory”

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody

The American Mind, “A Statement Regarding ‘Critical Race Theory’”