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Critical race theory: 3 experts discuss its true role in higher education


University leaders offer a history lesson by debunking several theories, including its prevalence on campuses. Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash Since the 1970s, critical race theory has floated around higher education as a framework of exploration, largely among legal scholars, educators and social activists, to address the persistence of systemic racism.

One of the great myths, for example, is that “colorblindness” can simply undo power structures that have existed for centuries. Experts say getting to true equity—overcoming institutional racism and acknowledging that longstanding privilege still exists—is daunting. The fight is only beginning, and now it is center stage.

Around half of U.S. states either have passed or proposed legislation aimed at intercepting inclusion initiatives or more directly, critical race theory itself. Although much of the public outcry against CRT has been levied at K-12 schools, which don’t even teach it, higher ed has had its share of detractors, too, especially since the rise of the multigenerational, multiracial Black Lives Matters movement. Colleges are facing unprecedented scrutiny from conservative states and voices, including outspoken Manhattan Institute senior fellow Christopher Rufo and Cornell professor William Jacobson, who has launched the website for those worried about its “negative impact.”

Gary Peller, a professor of law at Georgetown […]

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