What Next

The War Over Critical Race Theory

CRT doesn’t mean what you think it does.


Episode Notes

Critical race theory was created in the 1970s by a Harvard Professor seeking to describe the way racism is baked into the legal system. Half a century later, CRT is now the weapon of choice for right-wing pundits looking to silence conversations about race.

From an academic discipline to a conservative scare tactic, how did critical race theory become the dominant culture war in American politics? And what does CRT actually stand for?

Guest: Adam Harris, staff writer at the Atlantic.

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Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Davis Land, Danielle Hewitt, Elena Schwartz, and Carmel Delshad.


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The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

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  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.