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Critical race theory examines society's understanding of race and how it's informed by various power dynamics. In order to understand this theory, it's important to note what critical race theory is not. It does not claim that race is fiction or that racial categories are meaningless; rather it asserts that they are a social construct created by humans.

Critical race theorists believe that there are systematic problems with how society understands and deals with racism. Racism and racially-based outcomes are systemic and widespread with implicit racism. This differs from other scholarly discussions of racism, where racism is an explicit act that people intentionally engage in.

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Critical race theory emerged in the 1970s

In the 1970s, critical race theory emerged as a response to the failure of various civil rights laws. Many people did not believe these laws were effective at eradicating racism and racial inequality, so theorists investigated how racial disparities occur in society. Critical race theory began to gain public attention during a time of political backlash against progress made in racial justice. Many people use critical race theory in order to understand how racial disparities affect societal outcomes.

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Not everyone supports critical race theory

Critical race theory has both its critics and its supporters. Critics of critical race theory often state that it promotes reverse racism. Critical race theorists believe that claims of reverse racism are an attempt to silence discussions about racism. Critical race theorists believe that in order to address issues like oppression honestly, it is necessary to understand how power and privilege influence institutions.

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Some states want to ban critical race theory

There are several states that have proposed bills banning the teaching of critical race theory. Critics want the idea of critical race theory removed from their curriculum. Proponents of these bills believe that banning critical race theory in schools will prevent students from adopting this worldview. They also believe that it will allow educators to teach more traditional ideas.

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Lack of understanding about racial inequities

Most critics don't even understand what critical race theory is before they try to ban it. Critics often argue that critical race theory should be replaced with an approach that focuses on individual rights and doesn't include discussions about systems of discrimination or oppression.

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Learning about the difference between institutional racism and acts of racism

There is a difference between institutional racism and individual acts of racism. Institutional racism occurs when a system is set up to perpetuate racial inequalities. An example of institutional racism is housing discrimination. A person may not be allowed to see or view a home because the neighborhood is all white. However, this is not an act of racism; it is an act of institutional racism.

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Institutions can also perpetuate systems of racial injustice and oppression

Institutional racism can have a negative effect on people of color. Institutional racism can lead to other problems, including low pay, lack of job advancement, limited opportunities for social mobility, and economic dependency on others who are more powerful. Institutional racism can be difficult to identify because it's often not as explicit as individual acts of racism.

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Critical race theory in education

Despite attempts to ban or limit its teaching, many students still learn about critical race theory in school. Because of how society understands race, many schools teach students about how racial categories are used to disadvantage people who are not white.

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Increased public awareness about criminal justice and housing inequities

Public awareness of how race plays a part in American society has increased over the past decade. People are increasingly aware of how racial disparities occur in criminal justice and housing. Critical race theory gives people a framework from which to understand the systemic causes of these inequities.

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Critical race theory has become an area of growing interest

Critical race theory is a popular study topic in education, with a growing body of literature. The study of critical race theory will most likely continue growing, leading to more research. Understanding how society is structured continues to be an issue impacting people today.

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Critical race theory could help reduce racial inequities

One of the goals of critical race theory is to educate people about how they can understand and combat racism in society. Critical race theory can illustrate the social issues that are associated with a historical legacy of racism. People who understand can challenge the social systems that perpetuate racism and create more equitable societies. Racism is an enduring problem in the United States, and critical race theory proposes that racism is embedded in the laws, policies, and institutions of society. Therefore, it suggests that racism can only be overcome through changes to these primary social structures.

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