David Wiley Campt is a principal in The Dialogue Company, which promotes civil discourse. 

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What Should Children Be Taught About Racism in the United States?

How to have constructive conversations amid anti-CRT mania.
Illustration of strings tied around a history book pulling it in different directions

Illustration by Michael George Haddad

DESPITE THE FACT that critical race theory (CRT) is a complicated academic theory that some scholars use to examine disproportionate outcomes in the criminal justice system, school board meetings across the U.S. have erupted in passionate debates with parents demanding it be banned.

Ironically, CRT cannot be taught to children because it is not age appropriate for K-12—just as we would not teach advanced nuclear physics to schoolchildren. Yet the strategic placement by far-right activists of a narrative that CRT has crept into K-12 education is causing dramatic outbursts of racial anxiety. All this passion could be rerouted to address an important question that everyone cares about: What should children be taught about race and racism in the United States? This conversation, if done well, could actually move our society toward much-needed racial healing.