The term “critical race theory” has been in the news a lot lately. If you’re confused about what it means – or too afraid to ask at this point – here’s what you need to know.

What is critical race theory?

Very simply, critical race theory is the idea that racism is built into American institutions and frameworks to keep white people in the position of power in society.

It was developed by academics about 40 years ago in response to “a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.” The academics argued the United States was “founded on the theft of land labor” and federal law continued with unequal treatment of people on the basis of race. Supporters of critical race theory also believe race is a cultural invention.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is one of the early proponents of critical race theory. She is now executive director of the African American Policy Forum, a social justice think tank. She told CNN, “Critical race theory is a practice. It’s an approach to grappling with a history of white supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.”

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School districts across the country are navigating out how to reopen safely amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and the results of a new study could make those decisions more difficult. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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