Commentary: The Teachable Moment of “Divisive Concepts” Legislation

Kevin McGruder
Academe Blog

Excerpt: In 2021, the movement against the purported teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools and public colleges dominated public discussions in many communities and has now resulted in legislation against the teaching of “divisive concepts” in many states. It is a matter of public record, as Jennifer Ruth noted here, that the controversy is a manufactured one, a masterful disinformation campaign to silence advocates of anti-racism. The campaign was conceived by conservative activist Christopher Rufo, and amplified by the American Legal Exchange Council (ALEC) through trainings, and then by the dissemination of sample legislation to state legislators.

As educators, the divisive concepts controversy, while frustrating in its distortion of the facts, provides us with a teachable moment to share information, both with our students and with the larger community. The disinformation campaign fueled by Christopher Rufo is part of a historical tradition in the United States of backlashes to steps toward achieving racial equity.