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What is critical race theory? Explaining the discipline that Texas’ governor wants to “abolish”

Last year, conservative activists began using the term “critical race theory” publicly to denounce anti-racist education efforts. Since then, conservative lawmakers, commentators and parents have raised the alarm that critical race theory is being used to teach children that they are racist, and that the U.S. is a racist country with irredeemable roots. Others have even argued that critical race theory bans critical thought in favor of what resembles religious instruction.

Those who study the discipline say that the attacks have nothing to do with critical race theory, but instead are targeting any teachings that challenge and complicate dominant narratives about the country’s history and identity. The governor of Texas recently signed into law a bill that restricts how current events and America’s history of racism can be taught in Texas schools, signaling a wave of similar legislation across the country.

This Texas Tribune article examines the key concepts of critical race theory, its usefulness in examining systemic inequities and the mischaracterizations dominating the current political discourse.

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