Critical race theory (CRT) was once an obscure subdiscipline in academia, confined within university lecture halls.
But CRT has become the backbone of programs and entire departments in numerous fields, with its “anti-racist” ideas being implemented in institutions ranging from federally-funded nuclear labs to medicine to public and private schools.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches individuals to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
Christopher Rufo, a director at the Discovery Institute, has revealed the spread of CRT programs within both public and private institutions through his reporting, often using whistleblower documents. “Anti-racism” trainings for teachers and students as young as first grade have been a focus of his reporting. But Rufo has also reported on the trainings in American governmental institutions and beyond.
“It’s everywhere,” Rufo told the Daily Caller. “In the year 2000, this stuff was limited to university classrooms and departments. It became a popular method of inquiry, a popular subdiscipline of scholarship, but it was still very much an intellectual creation that was limited to university classrooms.”
Classes examining CRT and related subjects soon became university departments of diversity or equity, and those departments then became “bureaucracies” within those institutions. Beginning in 2010, CRT made a leap from academia to other fields of education such as public schools, Rufo said.
“It started to come up in public school administrations. you have your first ‘Courageous Conversations’ series, you have your first culturally responsive teaching programs at big city public schools. All of a sudden you have these departments that are solidified at this point in every part of the country,” he said.
Schools — both public and private — have held lessons or trainings prompting students and teachers to do things like identify how they benefit from white privilege, or celebrate “black communist” Angela Davis.
Rufo reported in March that North Carolina’s largest school district held a conference a year prior that told teachers to “disrupt” whiteness by not letting parents stand in the way of social justice instruction in the classroom. (RELATED: REPORT: Largest School District In North Carolina Urges Teachers To Ignore Parents’ Pushback And Teach ‘Antiracism’)
Elite private schools have also introduced “anti-racism” initiatives. In Ohio, a coalition of parents called on the school leadership at Columbus Academy to address its “culture of intimidation” that in some cases, led to peer and teacher-led shaming of students with opposing viewpoints.
The school’s diversity director allegedly sent faculty in July an email containing a link to a page asking for donations to defund the police. The school allegedly provided training to faculty in August that included materials by Ibram X. Kendi, who has been cited in numerous “antiracism” training sessions at public schools across the country.
After being established in schools, CRT entered the nonprofit service sector, according to Rufo. Today it’s included in nearly every imaginable institution — even the U.S. military, which includes Kendi’s book “How To Be An Anti-Racist” on the U.S. Navy reading list. Kendi is the founding director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University and his ideas are often included in CRT trainings.
Medical professionals have also tried introducing the ideas of CRT into their field. Two physicians published their “Antiracist Agenda For Medicine” in the Boston Review in mid-March. The agenda calls for going beyond federally paid reparations for minorities, and instead enacting restitution programs. It suggests offering preferential care based on race or ethnicity despite “legal challenges from our system of colorblind law.”
In February, Karlyn Borysenko, an organizational psychologist and YouTube commentator, called attention to an “anti-racism” course a whistleblower allegedly said Coca-Cola was forcing employees to complete. The course reportedly told participants to “Try to be less white.”
Coca-Cola told Newsweek that the lesson wasn’t mandatory for employees, although Borysenko told Newsweek that at least one employee of Coca-Cola showed her an email that said the course was required. Coca-Cola told the Caller that the videos and images purported to have been part of the training program “are not part of the company’s learning curriculum.”
Rufo also reported on leaked documents that showed Sandia National Laboratories, a federal facility, hosted a three-day mandatory training in 2019 for its white male executives where they were instructed to apologize for their privilege. The executives were given other tasks such as acknowledging the connection between “white male culture” and mass killings and “Aryan Nation.”
Although such trainings were occurring prior to 2020, protests and riots in May and throughout the summer after the death of George Floyd pushed many institutions to ramp up their diversity and inclusivity efforts.
“They’ve created this bargain where if you don’t have the department of equity, you’re categorized as someone who’s maintaining an evil white supremacist status quo, and that’s basically the bargain they’ve used to gain a foothold at this institutions,” Rufo said.
While diversity and inclusivity are noble goals for which every institution should strive, CRT programs aren’t promoting either, he argued. Instead, Rufo argued CRT program facilitators use manipulation to push a neo-racist ideology that takes a true premise — such as the fact that America does have a history of racism — and tries to force people to accept radical solutions, like a race-based collective identity.
“It’s telling first graders that they should be divided by oppressor and oppressed categories, forcing fifth graders to celebrate black communism and simulate black power marches,” Rufo said while explaining what CRT programs actually look like in practice.
Rufo said he’s pessimistic in the short term about the spread of CRT, but optimistic in the long term, calling the present moment “pivotal” in stopping it.
“My intuition says that a vast majority of Americans don’t support the equity agenda, which is a nice euphemism for what some have called ethno-communism — this idea that you should enforce equal outcomes across identity lines,” he said. “There’s a multi-racial coalition of intellectuals and parents and citizens that are starting to pushback and really take apart the ideology as an intellectual concept, but also resist it within institutions.”
Some Republican lawmakers — such as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — have rebuked CRT and pushed to exclude it from the military and public education, respectively. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, one of the oldest chapters of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, denounced CRT as a “hateful, divisive, manipulative fraud.”
“It’s a fringe movement that has asymmetrical power but I’m optimistic it can be stopped,” Rufo said.