Virginia Law Review
Va. L. Rev.
In the wake of the “racial reckoning” of 2020, antiracism education attracted intense attention and prompted renewed educator commitments to teach more explicitly about the function, operation, and harm of racism in the United States. The increased visibility of antiracism education engendered sustained critique and opposition, resulting in executive orders prohibiting its adoption in the federal government, the introduction or adoption of over sixty state-level bills attempting to control how race is taught in schools, and a round of lawsuits challenging antiracism education as racially discriminatory. Because antiracism so directly runs afoul of norms underlying American antidiscrimination law, including anticlassification, colorblindness, and white innocence, antiracism education is vulnerable to legal challenge in a way that precursors like multiculturalism were not. The vulnerability of antiracism education to constitutional censure is the most recent illustration of how far antidiscrimination law has gone not in undercutting, but further entrenching, racial hierarchy in the United States. The legislative, litigation, and curricular wars surrounding antiracism education also remind us that race is significant for reasons that go beyond materiality. Rather, legal and social discourse about racism shapes notions of racial injury and ultimately impedes efforts to respond to even the material consequences of enduring racial inequality. Tracking and analyzing the anti-antiracism legislation and lawsuits provides those who are willing to follow it a map both to where antidiscrimination law must be changed, and to where antiracism education is most needed.