Graduation Date

Summer 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Stefanie Israel de Souza

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Mary Virnoche


Critical Race Theory, CRT, Education, Rural, Western Washington, K12, School, Racial innocence, Critical whiteness, Moral panic, Folk devil, Colorblindness, race

Subject Categories



Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools has become a controversial topic nationwide, leading to widespread and alarming bans on the teaching of CRT. CRT has been accused of shaming white children, creating racial division, and creating a “victim mentality” amongst people of color. The CRT utilized in critical legal studies, ethnic studies, and sociology looks drastically different from what opponents claimed. So, what exactly is CRT - more importantly, what do opponents of CRT believe it to be, and why are they opposed to it? This thesis builds on the sociological field of critical whiteness to examine the academic origin of Critical Race Theory and establishes the contextual background to the emergence of opposition to CRT. Utilizing qualitative semi-structured interviewing, thirteen people in rural Northwestern Washington are interviewed about their understanding and opinion of CRT taught in schools. These interviews identified the primary concern in opposition to CRT as concern for children, for white children and children of color. Opponents of CRT expressed concerns that white children would be shamed for their racial identity and made to feel guilty for the legacy of white supremacy. Opponents expressed concerns that children of color would be taught that they are victims and unable of achieving greater life outcomes if they learn about the history of oppression. Opponents of CRT commonly utilized a “colorblind” framework towards racial relations, believing that the acknowledgment of racial differences and oppression would further perpetuate oppression, driving their opposition to CRT. The continual denial of systemic racism through this “colorblind” framework perpetuates the continuation of systemic racism. This research contributes to an emerging field in Sociology and Educational studies focused on addressing the concerning and rapidly developing implications of opposition to CRT. The in-depth qualitative interviews conducted in this thesis provide in depth insight to understand the opponents and opposition of Critical Race Theory.

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