Critical Race Theory (CRT) scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw said critics are looking beyond content that cites CRT by name and are instead concerned with its substance and how it manifests in America’s public schools.
“You can run from the name,” Crenshaw said in a video posted on Twitter. “That’s not what they’re after. They’re after the substance of what it is that is being taught.”
Activists advocating against CRT in schools have criticized those who say CRT isn’t being taught in the U.S., purporting that its tenets and core ideas are infused within school curricula.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
“If we learn anything from other moments like this in which the right has come after something and we thought we could continue doing it by calling it something else, then that should be enough of a cautionary tale,” Crenshaw said.
“I think that when we’re caught in a ‘Is it CRT or not CRT,’ they win,” Crenshaw said. “That’s the whole point of throwing this in. And I have to say, it took a lot of folks a while to figure that out.”
“When this first started, I talked to a lot of people, diversity and inclusion people who were in K-12, people who were teaching 1619,” she said. “To almost a person, they all thought ‘Well, it really doesn’t implicate me because I don’t really teach that.’”
Crenshaw next admitted that the name of a course or lesson is no longer what matters most, because those fighting against CRT know how the theory shows up in forms beyond its name.
“It’s only at this moment where I think it’s clear that it doesn’t matter what it is you call what you do. If you’re trying to center anti-racism in whatever you do, they’re coming for you,” she said. “They’ve built this cage, and they’ve put us all in it.”
“That’s misdirection,” he said in the video posted to Twitter. “We don’t have the quotes and theories as state standards, per se. We do have Critical Race Theory in how we teach.”
Teachers are told to treat students differently based on their skin color, that every problem is the result of “white men” and “that everything western civilization builds is racist, capitalism as a tool of white supremacy,” Kinnett said in his video.
He claimed that all of those talking points are straight out of Crenshaw’s “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement” book.
In Virginia, education became a core issue in then-candidate Glenn Youngkin’s campaign in the state’s 2021 gubernatorial race, which he won with the help of parents fed up with the state’s leadership and its policies. Voters made it clear they wanted to see change in Virginia’s education system and a shift away from the push to teach CRT in its schools.
Following Youngkin’s inauguration, he criticized those who “obfuscate the issue” by claiming that CRT does not exist in schools during an appearance on Fox News.
Even though “there’s not a course called critical race theory … there are absolutely the tenets of CRT present in the schools,” Youngkin said at the time. “Anyone who thinks that the concepts that actually underpin Critical Race Theory are not in our schools has not been in the schools.”