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University of South Carolina School of Law




Since the fall of 2020, rightwing forces have targeted Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) through a sustained disinformation campaign. This offensive has deployed anti-CRT rhetoric to justify a host of “Backlash Bills” designed to chill conversations about race and racism in the classroom. Concerned stakeholders have assailed these laws as morally bankrupt and legally suspect. These responses are natural and appropriate. But challenging a bill’s moral or legal mooring is insufficient to counter a primary purpose of this legislative onslaught: to further erode, within our public discourse and collective consciousness, the ability to distinguish between racism and antiracism. To meet this threat, advocates should appropriate these regressive laws, and the language of equality they harness, for progressive ends. More concretely, stakeholders should wield Backlash Bills to defend CRT in schools. Albeit counterintuitive, many “anti-CRT” laws—if we take seriously their text—support this rhetorical and legal turn.

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