Critical Race Theory: it seems like it’s suddenly been thrust into the national conversation, but how many people outside the African American community actually know what it is?

Professor Kendall Thomas is one of the country’s pre-eminent scholars on Critical Race Theory. He lectures on it at Columbia University Law School, he’s written papers on it and his teachings have been documented in the collection, “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement."

Thomas joined In Focus to talk about what Critical Race Theory really is. While it is maligned by lawmakers who try to outlaw its teaching and parents worried that their children will be “guilted” over slavery and racial inequities, Thomas explains that CRT is merely a law-based study of racism as something institutional, a broad topic that assigns blame to institutions and governments rather than individuals. 

As more than a dozen states move to enact laws to prevent subjects like the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory from being taught in their schools, and a couple of parents have removed their children from New York City private schools because they don’t want them to be taught to feel somehow responsible, Thomas says he doesn’t believe it is fear that is driving the anti-anti-racism movement, as he calls it, but rather a desire to maintain the status quo. 

He also talked about the lessons we can learn from Juneteenth, like the fact that freedom looks different to different people.