Political Attacks on Critical Race Theory

Crowd of protesters in Sydney

Almost 530 researchers (including me) have signed the Open Letter Against Racism. Critical race theory is an academic field under uninformed and unwarranted political attack in Australia and in other nations. See an excerpt below and please read the full letter.

We write this letter in response to substance-less attacks on ‘critical race theory’ by politicians and media figures in Australia. These attacks are tantamount to an attack on anti-racism itself. On 21 June 2021, a motion was introduced to the Australian Senate that called for the Government to reject critical race theory (CRT) from the national education curriculum. That motion was carried with support of members of the sitting Coalition Government. The former Prime Minister, John Howard, added fuel to the raging culture war when he asserted live on ABC TV: ‘I don’t think there is underlying racism in Australia.’ 

The signatories of this letter stand in opposition to these attacks by public office holders and public figures. Such attacks are dangerous in a number of ways:

 - they have the effect of legitimising racism in a settler colonial society and insulating it from critique;
 - they are a coordinated attack on principles of anti-racism;
 - they place limits on democratic forms of speech and attack the right to protest;
 - they seek to erode the principle of academic freedom

We stand in opposition to the amplification of moral panic over critical race theory, and assert the value of anti-racist action, research, and pedagogy.

The letter was coordinated by Andrew Brooks, University of New South Wales. Read more and see the signatories on Overland.

For further context, see Brooks’ article, ‘Decoding the attacks on “critical race theory.”’