Critical Race Theory Boogeyman

I see Republican politicians talking about CRT and states banning it being taught in schools. Then, I see other sources that say Critical Race Theory is a college-level discussion, and is definitely not being taught anywhere at the high school and below level.

From the discussions, I can’t even tell what CRT is, but I see accusations that it’s somehow teaching kids to hate America or teaching white people to hate themselves or something, all at the high school level and below.

Can someone please help me understand what’s going on? First, what is it actually? Second, is it being taught at the high school and below level?

This just seems like some kind of distracting scare tactic, but maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.

Academically it’s a concept in law studies that:

examines how the law intersects with issues of race
Critical race theory - Wikipedia

To the GOP it’s a catch-all for exposing children to anything that makes kids think the US was ever anything but the most perfect nation ever conceived.

That’s the impression I’m getting, but it seems to just be bollocks. And, lawmakers are introducing bills to ban its teaching – it just seems crazy.

Both sides are stretching the truth. CRT does make it into classrooms, in the form of Culturally Responsive Teaching. Culturally responsive teaching makes sure that Cinco de Mayo is taught in a school with a lot of Latino students, and that perhaps more focus in History class about the impact of the Spanish and Mexican development in the New World. That in a classroom with Black students you don’t stop with Black History month and Harriet Tubman and MKL. There may have been a black scientist that wasn’t George Washington Carver. That you spend time talking about the immigrant experience in America. etc…

The idea that you SHOULD not only teach slavery, but also the ongoing racism and oppression and the systemic racism, sexism and oppression that has resulted comes out of Critical Race Theory. And that isn’t a college level topic - that is appropriate for high school students, no matter their color.

I don’t find it unlikely that Critical Race Theory in some ways led to Culturally Responsive Teaching, but it seems to me it could also just stem from the same understanding of reality. Do you have any sources supporting the direct connection?

And though I agree that it would be disingenuous to respond “Critical Race Theory is a college level concept” if Republicans had a cogent idea of what they were opposing and just accidentally mislabeled it, when what Republicans are doing is just making shit up based on having gotten a new slogan gaining traction in the propaganda machine and among the uninformed base, I think it unfair to call it “stretching the truth”.

BTW, this cartoon spawned this thread:

Yeah, you study Critical Race Theory when you take education classes as part of CRT. If you do a lit search on JSTOR you’ll get a lot of hits on the links between the two. When they say CRT is a college level thing, its hit practical applications, not just academic ones, in places like social work and education that then move down. (My youngest is getting an education minor and I proofread their papers).

Are you using the initialism CRT to mean two different things in this post?

My question, too. In this thread, CRT means Critical Race Theory, not Culturally Responsive Teaching.

Critical Race Theory is a framework for understanding American law. According to some legal scholars I’ve read, much of American law seems nonsensical until you consider that much of it was created to establish the concept of race, and use it to dominate and oppress racial minorities.

It is now consciously and deliberately being crafted into a boogeyman to gin up hysteria against racial justice concepts in general. These couple of tweets from Chris Rufo on Twitter basically give up the game as to what’s going on ((source)

So obviously, there’s some conscious and intentional brand-smithing at work here. CRT is ideally suited to be converted into a negative brand for this type of hatred and hysteria because it involves 3 things that freak out conservative white people:

  1. Criticism (of them)
  2. Race (we’re not supposed to talk about it)
  3. Theory (theories are the enemy of Christ-revealed facts: see “Evolution Is Just A Theory,” “Marxist Theory”, “Critical Theory”, etc)

And it doesn’t hurt, as mentioned in earlier posts, that it shares an an acronym and some overlap with Culturally Responsive Teaching. This helps cement the confusion of whether CRT as critical theory is being taught in primary schools.

Nobody’s teaching CRT in elementary school any more than teaching math means teaching accounting. Conservatives are mad about anything whatsoever being taught about race in school because:

  1. White kids must never be allowed to feel bad about things done by other members of their race. That’s only for Black kids.
  2. Race education isn’t needed in school because Civil Rights solved everything and now there’s no more racism.
  3. Actually, there is very serious racism going on right now, and it’s anti-White racism, which is the Real Racism.

So that’s why “oh muh gawd CRT in elementary school” is the lie that runs halfway round the world before the truth gets its boots on. It contains all elements necessary for white people to form extreme opinions on something they don’t even understand. And of course sadly a bunch of dipshit Very Online Leftists are reflexively doubling down on the opposite position of “actually CRT should be taught to children.” (Again, though some CRT concepts are appropriate for schoolkids, it’s really only applicable to students of law).

Yes, sorry. You study critical race theory in modern education classes as part of studying Culturally Responsive Teaching. If you search JSTOR, for education journals, you will get a lot of hits linking the two. Critical Race Theory, when taught to people who are not academics, but taught, as it is, within a social work or education framework, makes it into the real world. I’ve read some pieces lately from the left that its all just an academic field of study…it isn’t.

You seem to be saying that it’s taught to education students at the college level and simultaneously saying that it’s not just taught at the college level. I’m pretty confused.

For the politicians, “teaching children Critical Race Theory” is the equivalent this day to how “Sharia law” was used 10 years ago or “Socialism” last year or “men in ladies’ rooms” two years before that. It bears little or no relation to what it really means, instead being thrown about as this dangerous alien thing that Those Scary Other People are bringing about. @HMS_Irruncible describes the nature of the froofraw very well.

Its taught to education students at a college level and incorporated into the curriculum those new teachers teach at primary and secondary levels. Not all teachers, of course.

Can you describe, or provide a cite for, how Critical Race Theory is being taught at the primary and secondary levels? This does not jibe with my understanding.

More correctly: Critical Race Theory, or rather observations and methods based on it l, would be taught TO educators, and used by these educators in their work. Not necessarily re-taught straight to their students.

The insidious thing about this is that it can be held for a chilling effect over teaching something which is objectively factual history, such as the Secession Declaration explicitly stating the core value of slaveholding, by creating the worry that this can be accused of preaching CRT because it contradicts the “official” state’s rights justification and alludes to “the state” supporting slavery.

I have the same issue as the OP. Of course, and I’ll be honest upfront that I have the initial reaction that CRT is complete bullshit and I will likely be against it. But I do hold some left-leaning positions and do not or will not just reflexively dismiss something because conservatives tell me it is bad. So I have tried to understand it.

The issue I have is that nobody can really say what it is. If you ask, you get one of many vague statements which are all wonderful sounding, but if you ask, “Well, does it mean this [bad thing]?” the answer is no, of course it is not that, stop watching Fox News!!!

But then Idaho “bans” CRT and I read the text of the bill, the pertinent portion is thus:

(a) No public institution of higher education, school district, or pub31 lic school, including a public charter school, shall direct or other32 wise compel students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to any of
33 the following tenets:
34 (i) That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national
35 origin is inherently superior or inferior;
36 (ii) That individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of
37 their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin;
38 or
39 (iii) That individuals, by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, reli40 gion, color, or national origin, are inherently responsible for
41 actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex,
42 race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin.

Sorry for the formatting.

Those three things seem very reasonable not to require a student to adopt. Is that CRT? If so, I’m out. If not, then why are several articles saying that Idaho (and other states) are “banning” CRT?

Note that the law doesn’t say that a school cannot teach even those three concepts. It just says that a student doesn’t have to agree with them.

I mean no disrespect, but the fact two things have the same abbreviation don’t make them the same. “Culturally Responsive Teaching” as you have described it is not Critical Race Theory and isn’t actually particularly close to it.

No, those things aren’t CRT. Critical Race Theory isn’t actually all that hard to get a grasp of.

As to why articles say states are banning CRT, it’s obvious why; because politicians in those states SAY they are, and the media reports what the politicians say, usually with very little fact-checking.

Here’s the wiki article on CRT. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the stuff in that Idaho law, so I think that the Idaho lawmakers are just lying about it.

From the wiki article, it seems like (ii) might be the part that intersects with CRT:

It is an academic discipline composed of civil-rights scholars in the United States who have examined how ostensibly colorblind laws may enforce societal or structural racism; and how transforming the relationship between law and racial power can achieve racial emancipation and anti-subordination more broadly.

I really can’t imagine this being covered below college level, but whatever. The rest of it reads like strawman bullshit. ETA: The rest of the Idaho law, not the rest of the Wiki article