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July 6, 2021 48 min
Seemingly out of nowhere Critical Race Theory has become a highly contentious front in a culture war raging in schools across North America, pitting parents against teachers and progressives against conservatives. Proponents describe it as an important theoretical concept that explains how racism is perpetuated within the power structures of historically white societies. Students, they argue, must be taught that racism is not an individual bias, nor is it a thing of the past; rather, racism is embedded into the country’s institutions and supports the perpetuation of white supremacy in society. In sum, race consciousness, on the part of all groups, is essential to our ability to achieve equality for all. Critics of CRT see it as non-empirical, highly specious academic doctrine that promotes discrimination and division in contemporary society. They maintain that analyzing everything through a racial lens impedes racial progress for all groups including the most disadvantaged. For its opponents, CRT is an illiberal and anti-enlightenment ideology that runs counter to ideals of progress, self-determination and equality built on people’s shared humanity. Arguing for the motion is John McWhorter, Linguist and Associate Professor of English at Columbia University. Arguing against the motion is Gloria Ladson-Billings, critical race theory scholar and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. QUOTES: JOHN MCWHORTER “What worries me is that it's not race that is being taught in schools, but an idea that racism is everything and that battling power differentials must be the focus of all of our moral, intellectual and artistic endeavors.” GLORIA LADSON-BILLINGS “The fight about critical race theory is not an academic one, it's a political one. And when politicians cannot win points on policy, they resort to inciting a culture war.” Sources: Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, The Hill The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg.   Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events. This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue - The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -   Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions Senior Producer: Ricki Gurwitz Editor: Kieran Lynch Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja
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