Backlash Against Critical Race Theory Gains Steam Amid Reckoning on Racism

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Signs are seen on a bench during a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP)

Critical race theory has come under fire from some conservatives, elected leaders, parents and educators. The concept evolved decades ago from legal scholarship seeking to understand how racial bias plays a role in U.S. laws and institutions. Efforts to dismantle critical race theory are now gaining traction more than a year into what many people consider a national reckoning with racism. More than twenty states have introduced or passed legislation that would ban schools from teaching about racism or “divisive concepts.” We talk about what critical race theory is and why it is stirring backlash now.


Ian Haney Lopez, constitutional law scholar and law professor, UC Berkeley, He is also a Senior Fellow at Demos, and the author of "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class."

Kendall Thomas, professor, co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, Columbia Law School