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:
- Illinois House Bill 4066 (2021-2022): Amends the Illinois Police Training Act. Establishes the Critical Race Theory Academy
- Massachusetts Senate Bill 365 (2021-2022): An Act relative to anti-racism, equity and justice in education
- Minnesota House Bill 660 (2021-2022): Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act established, anti-racism training and implicit bias continuing education required
- New Mexico House Bill 43 (2021)
- Black Education Act
- New Jersey Assembly Bill 5312 (2020-2021): Mandates training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for teaching certification
- New York Senate Bill 273 (2021-2022): Establishes a culturally responsive education curriculum and standards
- Washington Senate Bill 5044 (2021-2022): Concerning professional learning, equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system
- West Virginia House Bill 3232 (2021): To establish cultural competency training for teachers obtaining or renewing a teaching license in West Virginia
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.
- Arizona 4-41-9-10: Training, orientation and therapy; blame and judgment; prohibition; political subdivisions; annual report; definition
- Arkansas Act 1100: To Prohibit The Propagation Of Divisive Concepts; And To Review State Entity Training Materials.
- Idaho Code, Chapter 1, Title 33, Section 33-138: Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Public Education
- Iowa House Bill 802 (2021-2022): A bill for an act providing for requirements related to racism or sexism trainings at, and diversity and inclusion efforts by, governmental agencies and entities, school districts, and public postsecondary educational institutions
- New Hampshire House Bill 2: Relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures
- Oklahoma Statutes, Title 70, Section 24-157: Education; prohibiting certain training for students; prohibiting courses from including certain concept
- Tennessee House Bill 580, Bill Amendment (2021-2022): An act to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4 and Title 49, relative to education
- Texas House Bill 3979 (2021-2022): Relating to the social studies curriculum in public schools
- United States Senate Bill 968 (2021-2022): Combatting Racist Training in the Military Act of 2021 (2021-2022)
- United States House Bill 397 (2021-2022): Condemns Critical Race Theory as a prejudicial ideological tool
- United States House Bill 3046 (2021-2022): To prohibit Federal service academies from providing training and education based on critical race theory
- United States House Bill 3179 (2021-2022) (The Stop CRT Act): To codify Executive Order 13950 (relating to combating race and sex stereotyping), and for other purposes.
- United States House Bill 3937 (2021-2022): To promote dignity and nondiscrimination in the District of Columbia Public Schools and the District of Columbia Public Charter Schools.
- Arizona Senate Bill 1532 (2021): Controversial issues of public policy or social affairs; prohibition; discussion; coursework; legal action; civil penalty; misused monies
- Arkansas House Bill 1218 (2021): To Prohibit Offering Courses, Events, And Activities That Isolate Students Based On Characteristics Within Programs Of Instruction
- Arkansas House Bill 1761 (2021): Regulating institutional materials in public schools that are related to race and ethnicity
- Florida Senate Bill 366 e1 Amendment 569361 (2021): Prohibiting “divisive concepts” from being taught
- Idaho House Bill 375 (2021): Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Higher Education
- Iowa Senate Bill 478 (2021-2022): A bill for an act providing for training, prohibitions, and requirements relating to first amendment rights at school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions
- Louisiana House Bill 564 (2021): Prohibiting “divisive concepts” in public schools, including universities
- Mississippi Senate Resolution 56 (2021): A Resolution To Declare The Intent Of The Mississippi Senate Relative To The Promotion Of Race Or Sex Stereotyping Or Scapegoating In Violation Of The Fourteenth Amendment
- Mississippi House Concurrent Resolution 62 (2021): A Concurrent Resolution Affirming Our Resolute Opposition To The Promotion Of Race Or Sex Stereotyping Or Scapegoating And Condemning The Use Of Divisive Concepts And Theories That Propagate Such Stereotyping And Scapegoating
- Mississippi House Resolution 87 (2021): A Resolution Affirming Our Resolute Opposition To The Promotion Of Race Or Sex Stereotyping Or Scapegoating And Condemning The Use Of Divisive Concepts And Theories That Propagate Such Stereotyping And Scapegoating
- Missouri Senate Bill 586 (2021): Prohibiting “divisive concepts” from being taught in public schools
- Missouri House Bill 952 (2021): Prohibits the use of the 1619 Project initiative of the New York Times in the public schools of the state
- New Hampshire House Bill 544 (2021): Relative to the propagation of divisive concepts
- North Carolina House Bill 324 (2021-2022): Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Schools
- Oklahoma Senate Bill 803 (2021): Schools; prohibiting public school districts and charter schools from teaching certain divisive concepts
- Rhode Island House Bill 6070 (2021): Prohibition of teaching divisive concepts
- South Carolina House Bill 4325 (2021-2022): Critical race theory instruction prohibition
- South Carolina House Bill 4392 (2021-2022): Partisanship Out of Civics Act
- South Dakota House Bill 1158 (2021): Prohibit the use of curricular materials that promote racial divisiveness and displace historical understanding with ideology.
- Texas House Bill 4093 (2021-2022): Relating to civics instruction public school students and instruction policies in public schools
- West Virginia Senate Bill 558 (2021): Prohibiting certain divisive acts or concepts from schools, state agencies and any groups receiving state funding
- West Virginia Senate Bill 618 (2021): Prohibiting teaching of divisive acts and critical race theory in public schools
- West Virginia House Bill 2595 (2021): Prohibit “divisive concepts” from schools, state agencies and any groups receiving state funding
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.
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.
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
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’”