About

About the Project

The CRT Forward Tracking Project identifies, tracks, and analyzes local, state, and federal activity aimed at restricting the ability to speak truthfully about race, racism, and systemic racism through a campaign to reject Critical Race Theory (CRT). The Tracking Project analyzes how this anti-CRT activity, at all levels of government, attempts to limit truth telling within K-12 education, private businesses, non-profits, state and federal government agencies, and higher education. The Tracking Project goes beyond a focus on state and federal legislation by also including local government activity and non-legislative actions such as regulations, executive directives, and attorney general opinions. The Tracking Project thus provides a comprehensive examination of anti-CRT activity limiting teaching, curricula, trainings, access to certain texts and books, and policy alterations.

Our goals include:

  • Identifying, tracking, and analyzing anti-CRT activity data to assist advocates, journalists, litigators, and academics in developing a comprehensive analysis of anti-CRT activity
  • Tracking any patterns, templates, or repeating features of anti-CRT activity
  • Investigating the pathways and methods through which anti-CRT activity has spread

Background

Shortly after the summer of 2020 and the massive public response to the murder of George Floyd, public concern focused on how existing practices and procedures may have been reproducing or entrenching racial inequality. Questions of structural racism and the demand for attention to equality featured prominently in public discourse and led to some of the most widespread public mobilizations since the civil rights era of the 1960s. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hotly contested national elections, government agencies, educators and private businesses launched initiatives grounded in antiracism. Some resisted these initiatives and sought to deflect these demands for reform and commitments to antiracism. Conservative media outlets denounced what they characterized as “extremist” critiques of racism, labeling anti-racist critiques as racist themselves. Activists published articles and appeared in numerous outlets denouncing CRT as embodying anti-racist analysis and urged the government to act against the promulgation of these ideas. 

After White House consultations1 with Christopher Rufo2, the most prominent conservative activist leading3 this anti-CRT initiative4, former President Trump issued Executive Order 13950 (EO 13950), oftentimes referred to as an “Equity Gag Order.” EO 13950 prohibited federal agencies and recipients of federal funding from teaching and training “divisive concepts,” a term that would be marshalled in future anti-CRT initiatives. These divisive concepts are distorted descriptions of systemic racism and efforts to dismantle it.  Functionally, divisive concepts have been operationalized and inaccurately attributed to CRT. 

The language in EO 13950, in combination with subsequent public statements and an Office of Management and Budget Memo (M-20-34) released alongside EO 13950, launched an assault on teaching about systemic racism, CRT, diversity, inclusion, antiracism and antisexism. Although EO 13950 was declared unconstitutional, in parts, by a federal court and rescinded after President Biden took office, government actors throughout the United States have introduced bills and resolutions, as well as written letters, issued statements, and launched programs to prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts,” which have now been erroneously tethered to CRT.

Understanding how the proliferation of anti-CRT activity has impacted educators, students, government agency employees and employers, private businesses, trainers, and those committed to racial and gender justice demands further critical analysis of the anti-CRT disinformation campaign than mere identification. That is the space the Tracking Project fills. 

1https://www.wsj.com/articles/conservative-activist-grabbed-trumps-eye-on-diversity-training-11602242287

2https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-inquiry/how-a-conservative-activist-invented-the-conflict-over-critical-race-theory

3https://www.naacpldf.org/wp-content/uploads/1-Complaint-2.pdf.

4https://twitter.com/realchrisrufo/status1371541044592996352

Our Work

Through screening of over 17,000 media articles, and using Westlaw and Lexis’ legal research databases, the CRT Forward Tracking Project Team updates instances of anti-CRT activity in our database. In addition to the name of the government actor or body initiating the anti-CRT activity, we collect the following information regarding whether the anti-CRT activity: 

  • Derives from legislation, an executive directive, attorney general letter, resolution, statement, or policy alteration;
  • Targets K-12, higher education, private business, contractors, and/or government agency operations;
  • Regulates trainings, teaching, curriculum, access to books, revision to policies aimed at advancing antiracism, equity, diversity, and inclusion;  
  • Includes language derived from EO 13950 “divisive concepts” or follows the same structure of model legislation and resolutions from conservative thinktanks; and
  • Establishes a right to sue or withholds funding from target institutions when engaged in regulated conduct. 

More details regarding the The Tracking Project Methodology can be found here: crtforward.law.ucla.edu/methodology

Our work shows an evolution of anti-CRT activity, which corresponds to the proliferation of Holocaust denial and the erosion of transgender youth rights. Utilizing our data, the Tracking Project will develop policy briefs and white papers analyzing the assault on CRT and antiracist policies. 

About the Team

Project Director

Taifha Natalee Alexander, CRT Forward Project Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Leadership

Ahilan Arulanantham, Professor from Practice, Co-Faculty Director, Center for Immigration Law & Policy, UCLA School of Law

LaToya Baldwin Clark, Assistant Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Cheryl I. Harris, Vice Dean for Community, Equality and Justice, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, UCLA School of Law

Jasleen Kohli, Executive Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Noah D. Zatz, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Research Assistants

Kaylee Blanco, UCLA ‘23
Henry Cordova, UCLA '23
Isabel Flores-Ganley, UCLA Law ‘23
Danielle Garcia, UCLA Law '24
Charlene Kwan, UCLA ‘22
Paton Moody, UCLA Law '23
Sofia Pedroza, UCLA Law '20 
Jenny Poretz, UCLA Law ‘23
Nicole Powell, UCLA Law ‘23 
Fatima Rivera, UCLA '23
Natalia Ruvalcaba, UCLA ‘22
Milan Smith, UCLA Law ‘22

Staff

Alicia Solstice Hawkins, Communications Specialist, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Ayda Haghighatgoo, Program Coordinator, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Kyle Reinhard, CRT Forward Post-Graduate Fellow, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Lynn McClelland, Reference Librarian, UCLA School of Law

Special Thanks

Patricia Biggi, Senior Development Director, UCLA School of Law
Ben Nyblade, Empirical Research Director, UCLA School of Law
Chris Roberts, Former Chief Strategic Communications Officer, UCLA School of Law
John Sonego, Associate Dean for External Affairs, UCLA School of Law
Jessica Sonley, Director of Faculty Services, UCLA School of Law

This project is funded through the generous support of:

Contact the CRT Forward Tracking Project Team at trackingcrt@law.ucla.edu