Critical race theory. Donald Trump once called it a “destructive ideology.” Supporters counter that critics of the academic framework are just blowing a “racist dog whistle.” CRT has been around for decades, but one would be hard-pressed to find a political lightning rod that more ignited the divide between red and blue America this year than the teaching of CRT in public schools. It became one of the most searched terms on Google in 2021, surpassing Black Lives Matter.
But what is the theory exactly?
Turns out that’s not so easy for most people to pin down, according to a newly released analysis by the Covid States Project, a collaborative effort by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers universities. It found that an overwhelming majority of U.S. residents—seven out of 10 in all―have a hard time articulating what CRT is.