What You Should Know

From coast to coast, debates over critical race theory (CRT) are roiling our nation’s schools, workplaces, and headlines. But there is much confusion about what constitutes CRT and whether it’s a niche academic theory or a commonplace worldview.

The principal tenets of CRT can be summarized as follows:

  • America is Systemically Racist: The American system, and the Western Enlightenment tradition from which it sprung, are built on pervasive racism, and that systemic racism cannot be eradicated without a fundamental transformation of the system itself. Racism is not an aberration, but the ordinary state of affairs in the United States, from its Founding to the present day.
  • Progress is a Myth: No real progress has been made in race relations in the last two centuries. Instead, systemic racism has simply gone “underground,” covertly perpetuating a racial hierarchy that deprives black Americans of power and resources.
  • Collective Equity Over Individual Equality: The primary unit by which the fairness of a society should be measured is the racial group, not the individual. Every group disparity is presumed to be the result of racial bias and discrimination. Equal treatment of individuals perpetuates racial inequality.
  • Equity (or equal results) between racial groups should be the goal.
  • Race Essentialism: Racial identity is central to existence and how a person experiences the world. A “colorblind society is a cover for the maintenance of white privilege.
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