Here’s a good article on Slate about the definition of “critical race theory” which both shows the way the right wing is exploiting the term and also shows some of the limits of the view point.
A key quote talking about what critical race theory actually means and how it’s been attacked by Republicans:
Ibram X. Kendi: Critical race theory emerged among lawyers and legal scholars who recognized that despite being in this post–civil rights America racial inequity and disparity still existed and persisted. For them and for critical race theorists, the aim was to examine those structures, those laws, those policies, so that we can uncover the structures of racism. And obviously, critical race theory has extended out to other disciplines. Personally, I think that Republicans specifically chose to attack critical race theory because they felt that they could define it more easily than other terms. Since they couldn’t come out and say, “Oh, those people who are challenging systemic racism are a problem.” They couldn’t say, “Those anti-racists are a problem.” So they’re defining critical race theory at the same time they are attacking it, and critical race theorists are like, “That’s not how we define it.”
What is the most troubling thing politicians and the media have gotten wrong about critical race theory?
Wow. Man, there’s so many. I would probably say the misconception that critical race theory is a theory that seeks to attack white people, as opposed to it is a theory and an intellectual tradition that seeks to attack structural racism. If you’re white and you’re being told by elected officials, or even the media, that critical race theories are out to go after white people, then I could understand how people would be concerned about that, but it’s a very different thing when critical race theorists are focused on challenging structural racism. I think that’s been very troubling.
Kendi draws a distinction between individually racist acts and structural racism. Then, IMO he goes somewhat too far when talking about one of the authors of the 1619 project:
I want to talk about Nikole Hannah-Jones . This is a situation where conservative forces use their money and resources to go after a Pulitzer Prize winner, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, the author of the 1619 Project, and deny her full tenure with her position at UNC–Chapel Hill. My question for you was, one, how would we define those particular attacks as either racist or racism? Because the critics say, “Oh, no, no, no, this is purely because of academic reasons.” And then second, as you’ve heard about this story, does it make you, as a scholar, worry about the future of academic freedom at colleges around the country?
So the attacks, whether it’s individual members of the board of trustees or the board of trustees collectively, or even those who are defending those trustees for not providing this incredibly talented and qualified journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure, those were individual attacks, and therefore, racist attacks. Then when we take a step back and we look at UNC, or we look at the nation and we see that Black women with tenure are rare, that’s a function of a system or structure that is leading to that sort of disparity.
I get what Kendi is saying in his answer, in that the individual attacks are different from the systemic issue, but here’s the thing: I wouldn’t say the attacks on Prof. Hannah-Jones are racist, but rather political. It’s my view that a white person saying what Hannah-Jones said would also have been targeted and that a Black person saying what the trustees wanted to hear would have been granted tenure. So this is ideological/political discrimination, not racial IMO. It also targeted a Black woman, so I get that.
Anyway, an interesting conversation that shows IMO both the ways in which the right wing is wrong about critical race theory while at the same time showing some limitations of the CRT POV.
Like the 1619 Project, CRT can be overstated, but the right wing is blowing it WAY out of proportion.