NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) – Critical race theory, a once obscure academic concept that has sparked protests from school boards and class bans in some states, is widely misunderstood by the general public, even by those who say they are familiar with what it teaches racism in America, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll.
The national opinion poll conducted Monday and Tuesday found that 57% of adults said they were unfamiliar with the term, also known by its abbreviation, CRT, which claims that racism is woven into the US legal system and rooted in its main institutions.
Many of those who said they knew him answered follow-up questions that showed they embraced a variety of misconceptions about critical race theory that have circulated widely among the conservative media.
For example, 22% of those who said they were familiar with Critical Race Theory also believe it is taught in most public high schools. It’s not.
Thirty-three percent think he “says whites are inherently bad or bad” or that “discrimination against whites is the only way to achieve equality.” It is not.
Of those surveyed who said they knew about CRT, only 5% correctly answered the seven true-false questions asked by the Critical Race Theory and Teachings History and Teachings survey. Only 32% answered more than four of the seven questions correctly.
The poll showed that a bipartisan majority of Americans say high school kids should learn more about slavery and racism in America. Yet respondents were more opposed to the teaching of Critical Race Theory, which argues that Jim Crow’s legacy of slavery and racial segregation laws continue to create an uneven playing field for non-Americans. white.
For example, 78% of adults, including nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 Republicans, said they supported teaching high school students about slavery in the United States. Seventy-three percent of adults, including nine in 10 Democrats and six in 10 Republicans, support teaching high school students about racism and its impact on the country.
Still, 36% of Americans said they would support a ban on CRT in public schools. Responses were divided by party: a majority of Democrats – 51% – opposed a school ban, while a majority of Republicans – 54% – supported one.
As Americans grapple with racial and social injustice after the police murder of George Floyd last year, several Republican-led states, including Florida, Georgia and Texas, have adopted rules for limit teaching on the role of racism in the United States.
Proponents argue that they are protecting students from what they see as an ideology of division and a distortion of history.
But Paula Ioanide, a professor of race and ethnicity studies at Ithaca College in New York City, said the public was receiving bad information about CRT theory from conservative activists hoping to reinvigorate the Republican base and deter teachers talk about racism in schools.
“This is a crisis fabricated by the political right in response to the Black Lives Matter movement,” Ioanide said. “This is an indicator of a debate that the country is relying on right and left on the extent to which racism is alive and well.”
The Reuters / Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, across the United States. It collected responses from 1,004 adults, including 453 Democrats and 377 Republicans. The results had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.
Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney
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