Backlash: The Primordial Response to (Teaching) Critical Race Theory and U.S. History


  • Nadine Wedderburn SUNY Empire State College



Although Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic framework that students are not likely to encounter before college graduate levels, it has been targeted for how topics related to race and racism in U.S. historical context should be addressed in K-12 and tertiary curricula.  This author argues that the heightened attention to CRT across local, state, and federal legislature reflects a primeval response that is rooted in whiteness and repulsive towards truth-telling, consciousness-raising, and justice-oriented action. Utilizing Isabel Wilkerson’s conceptualization of ‘caste’ and pivotal moments in U.S. history that center the lives and experiences of racialized people, the paper aims to show that the instinctive response is consistently activated to stymie any shift perceived as threatening to U.S. racial order.


Keywords: backlash, caste, critical race theory