EXPLAINER: So Much Buzz, But What Is Critical Race Theory?

RALEIGH, N.C. — Critical race theory has become a lightning rod for Republicans and an issue in the Virginia governor’s race. But what exactly is it?

Even those who condemn or seek to ban the concept struggle to define it.

Developed in the 1970s and ’80s, critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism.

It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people.

Many Republican-led states have invoked the concept in legislation restricting how race can be taught in public schools.

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