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Will critical race theory be the new debate issue for 2022 elections?

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As Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are preparing to face off in Virginia’s second gubernatorial debate on Tuesday night, political watchers are keeping an eye on themes that could also play out on the campaign trail in 2022.

One issue where conservatives and liberals share diametrically opposing viewpoints is on the subject of critical race theory. Youngkin has adopted a stance popular with Republicans in that he would ban it from being taught in Virginia public schools, if elected. Many of its detractors see it as a stand-in for liberal “wokeness” and decry it teaches, particularly young children, to hate their country. Democrats, who in the last election cycle on the message of equity, particularly for people of color, defend the CRT saying it’s a nuanced view of American history that is welcomed.

Critical race theory is an academic concept that has been practiced in higher education circles for decades. The theory explores how racism has been systematically ingrained in American law and institutions after centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.

As the Covid-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd rocked the nation in 2020, equitable recovery became a priority. Businesses across the nation showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and several employers enacted policies to promote diversity and inclusion. Still, reactions to the racial reckoning are divided.

On Sept. 24, 2020, then-President Donald Trump wrote a memo to federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training, specifically calling for a stop to “critical race theory.”

Even after President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Trump’s disdain for critical race theory echoed among his supporters. By the summer of 2021, parents at school board meetings in places like Loudoun County, Va., were protesting against critical race theory potentially being taught to their children. But how valid is that concern? Is CRT actually being taught in K-12 classrooms, and why is it under attack?

POLITICO Video spoke with Jonathan Butcher, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Gary Peller, a law professor at Georgetown University; and Delece Smith-Barrow, education editor at POLITICO to discuss why critical race theory has become a political hot topic.

This is not a CAPTIS article. Originally, it was published here.