Critical Race Studies at UCLA Law
The Critical Race Studies (CRS) program’s mission is to “Think. Teach. Transform” by working at the intersection of race and the law to train advocates, leaders, and scholars committed to challenging injustice in all its forms. In 2000, we became the first law school program dedicated to incorporating Critical Race Theory (CRT) into legal scholarship and teaching, enabling law students to graduate with a formal CRS specialization. The program remains unique in legal education. Our faculty includes authors of pathbreaking works in CRT that have introduced widely influential ideas and concepts to scholars across the academy, legal practitioners, and the general public. Our program also includes emergent and more recently established scholars who are expanding the field in important ways, including by incorporating new empirical methods and by integrating CRT with clinical teaching and practice, and with international human rights and migration.
CRS is a preeminent training program for the next generation of legal advocates and scholars committed to racial justice. The program supplements a rigorous academic curriculum with clinical experiences grounded in community partnerships that integrate theory and practice. Our 1000+ alumni include racial justice leaders in legal practice, academia, and government around the country and the globe. We directly serve the broader public through widely-accessed webinars, symposia that include and collaborate with community organizations, and through our faculty’s frequent appearance in national media and public fora.
African-American Policy Forum #TruthBeTold Campaign
“After unprecedented global protests for racial justice that followed the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, right-wing groups across America instigated and intensified well-funded, orchestrated disinformation campaigns against critical race theory, intersectionality, and other forms of racial and gender justice discourse. Starting with Donald Trump’s Equity Gag Order banning federal agencies, contractors, and grant recipients from conducting trainings and programs that address systemic racism and sexism, this campaign has now morphed into a full-on war against racial and gender justice itself. Since its rescission at the federal level, the Equity Gag Order has since metastasized at the state and local level. Under the Trojan horse of opposing an invented caricature of “critical race theory,” at least sixteen states (AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IA, ID, MT, ND, NH, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA) have fully passed racial and gender equity prohibitions while at least 15 others are actively considering them. In addition, similar copycat bills have been introduced by Republicans in Congress.
Across the country, this moral panic over what and how we learn about history has led to teachers being fired and courses canceled. Parents have been deceived, tensions have been stoked, and over a half century of efforts to amend the misleading narratives about our history are being reversed. If you marched last year for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, if your eyes were opened by what you have seen and learned about race and racism in our society, if you have witnessed the value of anti-racist education in your own and in your children’s lives, then don’t be confused by the lies.”
NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF)
“The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 80 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.”
Reports & Publications
This is Not a Drill: The War Against Antiracist Teaching in America by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
“On January 5, 2022, Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw received the 2021 Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and the Legal Profession from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). In this modified acceptance speech delivered at the 2022 AALS Awards Ceremony, she reflects on the path that brought her to this moment and the crisis over antiracist and social justice education that is unfolding today. Arguing that the legal academy bears a collective responsibility to fight back against the silencing of antiracist frameworks, she calls on legal educational institutions to confront their historical agnosticism toward racial subordination and to defend the freedom to teach and learn Critical Race Theory against the concerted efforts to undo its legacy.”
UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access Conflict | Exploring Local Experiences of the Campaign to Ban “Critical Race Theory” in Public K–12 Education in the U.S., 2020–2021
“The new study, The Conflict Campaign, details media-fueled, broadly connected, and often powerful partisan efforts to incite and encourage local community members to target teaching and diversity work in schools and districts, often by distorting educators’ work. The study also explores how and where such efforts and restrictions (including restrictive bills at the state level,) have been experienced by educators and, indirectly, their students.
The report finds that both state action and local activity have left many educators afraid to do their work. Numerous educators told researchers they feel the campaign places them at risk if they discuss issues of race or racism, or promote equity, diversity, and inclusion. Many explicitly worry this climate of fear restricts students’ freedom to learn and exchange views.”
PEN America | Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach
“In the report, Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach, PEN America describes these bills as “educational gag orders,” a label intended to emphasize the efforts of legislators to forcibly silence discussions of topics and perspectives with which they disagree.”
Critical Race Theory FAQ (NAACP LDF)
“To help you learn more about Critical Race Theory, LDF has compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about it. This resource also includes information on the laws banning racial justice discourse being enacted across the country and how they fit into a larger effort to suppress the voice, history, and political participation of Black Americans.”
UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access Conflict: Exploring Local Experiences of the Campaign to Ban “Critical Race Theory” in Public K–12 Education in the U.S., 2020–2021
Webinars & Videos
Critical Race Theory Under Attack: The Fight for Antiracist Education
“Here at UCLA Law, we have been home to a nation-leading Critical Race Studies program (CRS) for the last 20 years. And right now across the country, a firestorm over Critical Race Theory has exploded. New legislation bans ideas and research designed to combat racism from classrooms and workplace training by labeling them as “divisive” and “anti-American.” What is at the root of this conflict? And what are its consequences? Join our panel of experts for a deeper conversation discussing the origins of Critical Race Theory, a breakdown of the current debate, and a thoughtful analysis of what is at stake. This event is in partnership with UCLA Law Critical Race Studies, home of the nation’s first Critical Race Studies Program.”
Dismantling Racism: Critical Race Studies in Action
“This webinar featured CRS alumni discussing anti-racist lawyering and advocacy in the current moment.”
What Critical Race Studies Teaches Us About Racism, Resistance & Policing
“Established in 2000 as the first law school program in the United States dedicated to critical race theory in legal scholarship and related disciplines, the Critical Race Studies program is unequaled in American legal education. Helmed by some of the nation’s leading thinkers on the intersection of race and the law, CRS consistently attracts top students from around the country committed to advancing racial and social justice, and serves as an intellectual home and a source of support and inspiration to this next generation of leaders.”
Branches of the Same Vine: LGBTQ Rights, Reproductive Rights, and Critical Race Theory
“A discussion on the connections between the current campaigns to limit the rights of minority populations.”
Co-Sponsored by Planned Parenthood and the Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA School of Law.
Critical Race Theory: What It Is, What It Isn’t & What Attorneys Need to Know
“Lately, Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been a source of discussion everywhere. Conservative news pundits are lambasting CRT in the media, local school boards have erupted in debates over it, and politicians’ talking points are now focused on CRT. As an attorney, you may find people asking you about CRT or you may have your own questions about it. During this session, panelists, , Taifha Natalee Alexander, Dr. Latoya Baldwin Clark, and Jasleen Kohli, will discuss CRT, its founding, contributions to law, and the recent attacks on the theory. The panelists will also discuss CRT Forward, a data-intensive project launched by UCLA School of Law’s premier Critical Race Studies Program to document the nationwide censorship movement and CRT disinformation campaign.”
Presented by the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Critical Race Theory: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
“John Oliver explains what critical race theory is, what it isn’t, and why we can expect to hear more about it in the coming months.”
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson Discusses Critical Race Theory
“The social activist and author of “Entertaining Race” discusses critical race theory and understanding systemic racism and also shares his thoughts about the GOP on ‘The View.’”
Breaking Through: Transformational Change in Motion – MOMibuster
“On the radio show this week, we hear about transformational change in motion to lower family costs and lift families, find out what’s happening in Congress and how your story makes a difference, hear about the Mother’s Day Weekend MOMibuster (!), and get the inside scoop on the importance of supporting Critical Race Theory (and hear what it really is!).
*Special guests include: Jenn Stowe, National Domestic Workers Alliance, @domesticworkers; U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, @RepDelBene; Donna Norton, MomsRising, @MomsRising @MamasConPoder; Taifha Natalee Alexander, CRT Forward – UCLA School of Law, @CRSatUCLA”
Code Switch: The Folk Devil Made Me Do It
“Can you remember another fall when back-to-school season was so contentious? Right now, all over the country, parents and politicians and school administrators are fighting over how to run their schools, whether students should even come back to the classrooms, and if they do, whether they should be forced to where masks. And that’s all before we get into the fights over what’s being taught in schools
That’s right: We’re talking about critical race theory. The fight over CRT has been raging for months now, and it’s gotten contentious. But all the anger and anxiety and fear about a “dangerous curriculum” that few people can even define — all that seemed kind of familiar. Like, we’ve been here before.
So this week, we’re taking a look at what moral panics can teach us about the critical race theory freakout. And buckle up, kids, because as it turns out, the history of moral panics is long and windy.”