An architect of critical race theory: ‘We cannot allow all of the lessons from the civil rights movement forward to be packed up and put away for storage’

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Consider we had about a decade of Reconstruction. And we had about seven decades of white supremacy, racial tyranny, utter and complete exclusion. We had probably a good decade, maybe a decade and a half, of active civil rights reforms. And then three, four decades of conservative retrenchment, reactionary responses to these reforms that allow for people to say what they’re saying now, which is that anti-racism is racist, your civil rights violate my civil rights. These are very old and repetitive ideas. So the reform, retrenchment frame is now taking place in the midst of a tremendous resurgence of anti-democratic, anti-inclusionary politics. And, in the context of a new distribution channel that is 24 hours, amplified by completely unaccountable information sources in the Internet. There used to be that saying that a lie gets around the world three times before truth gets its boots on. I’d say now a lie gets around about a million times before truth wakes up and says, “What is happening?”

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