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What is critical race theory? Iowa and Nebraska experts explain

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 19:40:32-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In Nebraska and Iowa, there are pushes to oppose teaching critical race theory in schools.

Critical race theory was developed in the 1970s and was specific to legal studies and law schools. It has now expanded into the academic fields of sociology, history and communications.

Halley Taylor with the Anti-Defamation League elaborated.

"It looks at race and, you know, the study of race and race-related to law and how we uphold these systems of oppression," she said.

Critical race theory generates a lot of controversies — several states, including Iowa, have banned teaching it.

University of Iowa Professor Venise Berry explained why critical race theory is getting politicized.

"Culture wars have brought us to this notion of, 'How do we attack somebody, how do we attack different people, different cultures?'" Berry said. "This is a very easy, very obvious way to attack African-Americans in this society."

Berry wants to clear up any misconceptions.

"The idea that it suggests all white people are racist or all white people are bad, and that's not the case," Berry said. "What it looks at is various systems put in place in America, and around the world, that are set up in a way that specific people have advantages and benefits and other people don't," Berry said.

Taylor said a common misconception is that critical race theory is taught in K-12 classes when, in reality, it is mostly taught on college campuses.

"Yes, we have diversity workshops, yes we have more exposure to American history, but the concepts of critical race theory are not within school systems...certainly not in Nebraska and Iowa," Taylor said.

If society has a better understanding of critical race theory, Taylor is convinced we can build a better world.

"If we're not learning from our history, how is it we move forward in order to make better choices and in order to make more positive changes for each and every one of us," Taylor said.

If you want to learn more, the local news organization NOISE is hosting a virtual roundtable discussing critical race theory on July 29th.

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