The Nondebate about Critical Race Theory and Our American Moment

By Harvey J. Graff


This is a decisive moment in the US reckoning with truth, reconciliation, collective knowledge, and the pursuit of an inclusive, equitable democracy. Struggles over understanding the past and over the intersection of past, present, and future intertwine at countless junctures. The ways in which the political, social, and cultural realms conflict over control of the present reflect contradictory visions of the past and future. I call the fictitious “debate” about teaching critical race theory in American elementary and secondary schools “the second big lie.” Willfully misunderstood, it is not a debate but a battle over basic facts and partisan politics as educators, parents, and legislators clash over the role of race in American history, contemporary US society, and our future.

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