The right wing’s latest attempt to distract and divide us

You’ve likely seen this on the news — or even heard about it from a neighbor. As a shorthand and to spark outrage, GOP operatives have co-opted and distorted a term used in legal theory, “Critical Race Theory,” and weaponized it as a catch-all term for any discussions of race and racism in our schools. The use of this phrase has skyrocketed on Fox News since the spring, and right-wing pundits openly acknowledge the term is a useful tool to mobilize voters.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts diving into why the right is manufacturing a panic about honesty in public education about race and racism — and what we can do about it. 

As the Greater Minnesota Organizer at TakeAction Minnesota, this issue matters deeply to me. Minnesota’s small towns are on the front lines of a strategy that may feel new, but is at least as old as our nation. It goes like this:

😨 exploit racial fears and insecurities to
🧟‍♂️ stoke fear and division to
💪 win power and
💸 distract from the real issue at hand: who gets investments, resources, and opportunities. 

Rinse. Repeat.

Over the past few months, I have been meeting with a group of parents and teachers from Pequot Lakes, a small Central Minnesota town currently in conflict over teacher training that promotes inclusion and culturally- and racially-responsive teaching. One parent, Suzanne, who was born and raised in Pequot Lakes and then returned there seven years ago to raise her son, said something that struck me:

Christopher Rufo, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has played a key role in distorting the term “Critical Race Theory” to manufacture panic around open discussions of race and racism in public schools and other institutions

“Growing up in Pequot, I had this feeling that we’re the last to hear about anything. I keep thinking about how this whole Critical Race Theory thing was like the opposite. For the first time in my life, something was local before I heard about it nationally.

That resonated with what I’d seen in Greater Minnesota in recent months. Scrolling through Instagram, I found that this summer, the Center for the American Experiment set off on a statewide tour to inject fear and division into discussions about what our kids learn at school about race, racism, and the social movements of our past and our present.

The right is mobilizing around this issue — it’s time we mobilize, too. Because we have a vision worth fighting for: schools and communities that value the truth, take responsibility for past harms, and invest in and value every life — Black, brown, or white.

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on this topic. Are parents and other community members discussing “Critical Race Theory” in your school district? Send me an email to let me know.

Stay tuned. Next week, we’ll dive deeper into why this is happening. 

More soon,


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