Critical race theory (CRT) makes race the lens through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life. CRT underpins identity politics, an ongoing effort to reimagine the United States as a nation driven by racial groups, each with specific claims on victimization. Ultimately, CRT weakens the public and private bonds that create trust and allow for civic engagement.
Roots of Critical Race Theory
Critical race theory (CRT) is a descendent of critical theory (CT), a school of theory that began in Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1920s and 1930s at the University of Frankfurt’s Institute for Social Research. It became known as “the Frankfurt School.” It was one of the first, if not the first, Western Marxist schools patterned after the Marx–Engels Institute in Moscow.
The Frankfurt School’s scholars fled to Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York in 1934 to escape persecution by the Nazis and were careful to erase the word Marxism from their research papers so as not to attract attention in America.
Critical theory was, from the start, an unremitting attack on Western institutions and norms in order to tear them down. It is built on the work of godless philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg Friedrich Hegel, and his best-known disciple, Karl Marx.
It next became a short step to critical race theory in the late 1970s and 1980s, building in America on the racial unrest and civil rights issue in the 1960s. CRT built on CT’s idea that the world is based on systems of power and claims that American law is systemically oppressive. It went a step further to claim that America is systemically racist and that this racism produced an alliance between working-class whites and the oppressor capitalist class, which prevented working-class solidarity. CRT holds to the idea that:
- There is no absolute truth—only competing narratives. It sees “lived experiences” as mattering more than facts.
- Individuals are either an oppressor or victim. You are predetermined by immutable characteristics such as race to fall into either category. Culture is defined by groups exercising power over each other.
- America is systemically racist and must be dismantled. It sees America as having been founded on the system of capitalism, which is racist, and therefore must be disrupted.
When followed to its logical conclusion, CRT is destructive and rejects the fundamental ideas on which our constitutional republic is based. Applying the philosophy would violate a multitude of American civil rights laws by treating people differently according to race. It should not be elevated in American classrooms.
Locate Helpful Critical Race Theory Talking Points HERE.
How To Stop CRT in your School District
Transparency is an important tool to hold government accountable—shining a spotlight on CRT curriculum is an effective way to stop it. You can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to be given access to the debate and decision-making process of your elected officials. If requested, the government is required to hand over the records via “Open records laws” (see FOIA section).