10 Reasons Why Critical Race Theory is Perfect for Confronting Racism
Emerging in the early 1908s, Critical race theory (CRT) was used to study the emerging identity politics in which people identified with personal characteristics rather than a movement or a political party. Later on, the theory was extensively discussed in the context of the strengths and weaknesses in the social fabric of modern American society. The approach has become controversial amidst the country’s struggle with race, civil rights, immigration, and civil conflict (McPheeters, 2021). De LA Garza and Ono (2016) describe CRT asan intellectual movement seeking to understand the reproduction and maintenance of white supremacyas a cultural, legal, and political condition in the U.S. context. Moreover, they state that CRT is a unique approach. Since its origins are traced back to legal studies; it intends to be an agent for political and social change; it has an interdisciplinary utility including education and is often used as the umbrella term for race and racism studies.
Despite being in the discussion domain of academic and law circles, a considerable amount of ambiguity still lingers over the exact meaning and definition of the theory, which is one of the prime reasons why the theory’s strengths are alien to a majority. Another major issue with the theory is that it is perceived with a seemingly stereotypical approach which advocates that the theory: is gainst free societies; limits racial issues to socially constructed groups; doesn’t trust anti-racism initiatives; associates science and reasons with white people and storytelling with black people; and as a totalitarian theory that considers itself as the only honest approach. This essay offers the reader ten reasons why CRT is not any of the things mentioned above and why it can treat the race issue perfectly.
Defining Critical Race Theory
批判种族理论的基础是种族和种族主义的概念是由社会思想和权力关系产生的(Rollock & Gillborn, 2011)。CRT也可以被描述为一个框架，可以用来审查社会中种族主义的做法，这些做法使黑人或少数族裔的人处于不利地位，反过来又使白人享有特权。该理论在政策、实践和价值观上挑战种族中立的概念，通常边缘化的“黑人声音”(Hylton, 2008)。Stovall(2005)将CRT称为一门多维学科，因为它从几个相关学科中吸取了跨学科的方法，在社会种族主义背景下发展理论和实践。
According to Zalaznick (2021),CRT is based on the following concepts:
- Race is a sociological construct and not biological.
- Racism is a systemic mechanism through which racial profiling and racial inequalities are maintained in society.
- Race and racism privilege the dominant class. So only those measures of racial equality or racial advancement will occur that cater to the interest of the prevalent course.
According to Gray (2021),CRT does not assert any of the following:
- A race or sex is superior to another race or sex by default.
- People are privileged, oppressive, sexist, or racist because of their race or sex.
- People’s race or sex has anything to do with their moral character.
- People should feel guilt, discomfort, anguish, or psychological distress because of their race or sex.
- CRT confronts the omnipresence of racism
CRT声称，种族主义已经成为日常生活的一部分，并被普遍接受。这种行为和“接受”创造了一种情况，在这种情况下，无论白人还是黑人，都可以通过做出某些选择，无意中助长种族主义。种族主义在美国文化中根深蒂固，被认为是自然和正常的，法律和政治体系受到白人至上观念的困扰(Taylor, 1998)。因此，白人、克里斯蒂安和占统治地位的中产阶级群体的规范成为了评判他人的尺度，决定对与错的定义，其他群体也被期望以此作为标准(Goodman, 2011)。因此，种族主义不仅是关于个人的偏见态度和行为，而且是一种深深植根于文化、心理、制度和机构中的心理状态(博尼拉-席尔瓦，2015)。
Essed (1991) argues that racism is pervasive in society because it has become a convenient occurrence in our daily life, especially for people of color. Additionally, incidents of racism and radicalization are experienced by all members of society and are affected by it regardless of their racial identity or affiliation.
CRT emphasizes the real-world impact of Race and Racism. CRT openly challenges the racist discourse and highlights the effects of race and racism on the identities, bodies, and life experiences of people of color. That way, it also explains the magnitude of the impact of racism because it, as a social condition, goes above ad beyond the scope of individual and intentional acts of racism and must, therefore, be understood at social, institutional, political, economic, and historical levels (De La Garza & Ono, 2016).
- CRT challenges bigoted ideologies
CRT challenges all concepts, including meritocracy, objectivity, colorblindness, equal opportunities, and race neutrality. According to McCoy & Rodricks (2015), the proponents of CRT argue that these concepts camouflage the privilege, power, and self-interest of the dominant culture in America. Lindsay (2020), in his criticism of the theory,argues that CRT completely opposes the idea that racism is diminishedwhen race is not in focus all the time. He argues that by challenging the concept of colorblindness, CRT encourages the practice of looking for hidden racism everywhere, including school, workplace, neighborhoods, food, hobbies, relationships, faith, and other aspects of life.
CRT challenges the concept of colorblindness and suggests that institutions are practicing a colorblind approach in tackling racism, create racial hierarchies that are as rooted as those established under slavery, apartheid, and colonialism. CRT scholars argue that even though intended as an answer to color-conscious racism, colorblindness has not only failed to uproot racial disparity but may itself be guilty of upholding it (Collins, 2015).
CRT unequivocally recognizes White supremacy as an oppressive and dominant force in society and emphasizes that it must be challenged. Generally, White supremacy is associated with Individual or group behavior and attitudes demonstrating White extremism. CRT, however, takes it further and incorporates the countless ways in which White supremacy is normalized, privileged, and given a center stage through social structures, policies, and cultural norms and values. For example, D’Rozario & Williams (2005) point out that redlining is a practice that systematically denies products and services to people residing in a particular area based on their race or ethnicity. They argue that such practices are doing no good and negatively affecting the lives of people of color.
对种族主义的认识是基于有色人种的生活经验。这些受压迫的经历对于理解和分析这些因种族主义而处于不利地位的群体的困境至关重要。在主流阶级成员中普遍存在这样一种假设:民族或种族不平等的存在是由于少数民族的文化问题或歧视法律的执行不力。然而，道德现实和社会现实受到不同立场的解释，因为它们是社会建构的。说明种族和社会现实的不同解释的一种方法是讲故事和呈现叙述。CRT意识到非白人的生活经历的重要性，并提倡通过传记、家族史、报告和讲故事的方式使他们受到关注(Yosso & Solorzano, 2007)。
CRT proponents use stories and counternarratives to oppose the claims of racial neutrality and to highlight that race and racism are neither frequent nor sporadic in the lives of people of color but rather deeply interwoven into their daily lives. Proponents of the theory thus use storytelling and counternarrative to raise awareness about the fact that racial biases have deeply penetrated the unstated U.S. culture and law (Brown & Jackson, 2013).
- CRT works well with Bell’s interest convergence theory
Proponents of CRT postulate that the interests of non-white people are only advanced when there isa convergence of the interests of those belonging to the privileged groups(McCoy & Rodricks, 2015)。利益趋同是由德里克·贝尔提出的，他是一位法学教授，也是CRT的强烈支持者。他的理论认为，只有当白人拥有既得利益时，黑人才会获得公民权利。布朗诉教育委员会案就是这一论点的一个经典例子。贝尔认为，无论在那个特定的案例中获得了什么，都只是因为它也是一种促进白人利益的方式。由于废除种族隔离的追求，贝尔的论点得到了加强。毕竟，它在冷战期间提升了国家形象，在利益再次出现分歧时被抛弃。Bell alsosaw the subsequent triumphs of the black people in terms of civil rights as a convergence of interests(Shih, 2017).
However, critics of the theory do not share the same view. Lindsay (2020) believes that Bell’s interest convergence theorymakes it impossible for any racially privileged person to do the right thingbecause anything they do will be seen as a way of advancing self-interest. He asserts that because of this particular thesis, CRT becomes manipulative and impossible to satisfy. However, his stance can be countered with the arguments of Goodman (2011), who stresses the concept of interest convergence and explains that the dominant culture is self-focused, consider others as threats, and feel superior and privileged because society encourages them to do so. Therefore, CRT proponents oppose and focus on eliminating racism, sexism, and the empowerment of non-white people (Yosso & Solorzano, 2007).
- CRT considers the intersectionality of oppression
尽管《对照表》以种族和种族主义为核心，但它也考虑了特权和压迫经历起源的其他决定因素。According to McCoy & Rodricks (2015),intersectionality is an analytic framework attributed to CRT. It is based on the assumption that race is not the only reason people of Color experience oppression. It also happens because of other identity factors such as class, gender, disability, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. It also suggests that pressure has other different forms, such as ableism, sexism, and homophobia. According to Poole et al. (2021), intersectionality captures the dynamism and fluidity of race by recognizing the importance and role of other social constructs in changing how race and racism are expressed, perceived, and experienced.
- CRT has an overwhelmingly positive impact on students
“对照表”的影响已经争论了几十年，那些反对该理论的人不断努力让它在学校被禁止。According to Gertsmann (2021), In nearly half of the states, including Florida, theRepublican legislators have successfully introduced bills intended to regulate the way race is taught in schools. He acknowledges that the way CRT is perceived is highly subjective and carries different meanings for different people. He defends the move by stating that states and local governments must push back excesses and determine the values that public education should instill in the students. He supports his argument by making a comparison between CRT and slavery as a positive institution. He says that the ban on CRT will be as justified as it will bar teachers from teaching slavery as one of the fundamental characteristics of the foundation of America. Proponents of CRT believe that racism is one of ten founding principles of America and that the country is racist in its very foundations.
The issue of how race should or shouldn’t be taught has been extensively debated lately. However, the debate has missed the critical point: the actual effect of exposure to CRT on the students in schools. Conner (2021), a researcher in youth activism, identifiesthree important outcomes from teaching CRT to young people.
5.1: Nurtures Passion
与CRT批评者的普遍看法相反，教授CRT并没有助长年轻人的分裂，而是帮助他们将理论应用到现实世界中，批判性地思考。According to his findings, Conner (2021) states thatCRT encourages the youth to collaborate and work towards achieving social change based on equity. Her research suggests that when youth find out about the origins of power and privilege and how they are transferred through generation by implementing radical policies such as housing discrimination, redlining, or school funding based on property taxes that favor schools in the upper class, they are motivated to take corrective actions to eliminate unfair conditions. Her study based on the youth of color concluded that youth of color realized that their life struggles were not their fault. That realization gives them hope that reforms are possible if the policymakers are convinced to adopt equitable policies. Hoping for positive social change, they set out to advocate for fair procedures.
CRT framework helps youth understand societal oppression and its effect on people, such as racial minorities. Individuals from these groups internalize the negative stereotypes and act accordingly, leading to further pressure, such as increases supervision and surveillance by the police and state violence. Students have been reported to express that learning about the CRT framework was empowering as it helped them make sense of what they saw happening, consider how they could break the wheel, and rather than seeing themselves as oppressors or victims, they saw themselves as agents of change who were committed to social change.
5.2: Academic Improvement
The second outcome is the significant academic improvement observed in youth organizers when they are taught CRT. Conner (2021) found in her studies that two-third of active youth organizers from the lowest-performing schools in Philadephiashowed significant improvement in their grades. This is endorsed by the findings of other scholars who found that youth organizers mostly receive A or B grades in high schools and attend college for four years at a higher rate. Ironically, the more young people become aware of the prevalent inequalities at schools, the less alienated they are and more committed to academic excellence.
5.3: Lifelong benefits
- CRT不是叙事;it’s rooted in critical legal studies
The recent controversy created around CRT and the drive to ban it in schools indicates how badly misunderstood the theory is. According to Collins (2021), the bill presented in the Rhode Island state legislature, which failed to pass, stated that it was intended to prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts intended to make any individual feel guilty, discomforted, distressed, or anguished on account of their sex or race. He argues that the bill reveals white fragility, the longing for myth-making, blatant denial, and an attempt to defend racism by stereotyping any anti-racism move as racist itself. As far as anguish and discomfort caused by teaching history are concerned, it is bound to happen because, unfortunately, U.S. history has an ugly side. The ban on CRT is not only baiting to label teaching inclusive U.S. history as racist. Still, it reinforces the divergence of interest argument because teaching CRT is not in the interest of the privileged white class; they are making every effort to get it banned.
Moreover, it also shows that the theory is grossly misunderstood as some believe it is just an attempt to infuse Black and other Indigenous histories into U.S. history. Contrary to this belief, CRT is a complex theory originating from law school critical legal studies. CRT was intended to expose the systematic racism woven in every aspect of American society, be it the law, policies at every level, and the customs and norms of the culture. CRT boldly questions the very basics and roots of American society through direct intellectual debate as well as allegory, biography, and storytelling (Collins, 2021).
- CRT exposes and examines institutional racism
The American youth needs to know about their history and how it has shaped their society. This is important because racism and the relevant discrimination practices can only be uprooted from American society once the origin of the problem is identified. As mentioned earlier,CRT is a way of understandinghow and why racism and its aspects, including White supremacy, anti-Blackness, and other types of racialized inequality, are rooted in legal practice, policy, and social institutions (Alvarez, 2021). Linsey (2020) argues that CRT is against free societies and the idea of freedom at its center. Ironically, the current winds of labeling CRT as unprogressive and demanding banning it in schools is snatching freedom of speech from all. Lukianoff et al. (2021)argue that banning CRT makes no sense因为思想，无论正确与否，一直是课程的一部分，而且课程一直是政治性的。他们建议，反对者不应该禁止像CRT这样的想法，而应该让它们经得起时间和应用的考验。将学校教育的概念排除在外的法案在法律上肯定会受到挑战，而且很有可能被否决。
Alexander (2021) elaborates thatattempts to ban CRT are an open demonstration of the racist attitudes prevalent in society today. The theory works to incorporate the contributions of people of color into the history textbooks so that they can be recognized and given their due. In addition to that, it strives to emphasize that racism is present everywhere and an ongoing crisis. By banning the teaching of CRT in K-12 schools, only those who attend higher education will have an opportunity to be taught the theory, which will be detrimental to those who do not pursue higher education. This will have serious implications for students of color who are exposed to racism in one way or another in their life. They should know how to fend for themselves, and CRT gives them that ability.
在人生早期就接受过这种教育的学生能更好地掌握它，并反对他们所看到或经历的种族主义和相关的歧视性做法。CRT在民权运动中也发挥了重要作用，这证明了它的重要性和影响。Therefore, CRT is very useful to systematically introduce the complex history of the U.S. to the current generation.
- CRT questions history
The supporters of CRT opine that because they believe race to be a social construct and not a biological fact, they have science behind them. Scientists support this by stating that research on the human genome shows no difference between Europeans and Africans. CRT scholars believe that race has been used to create a power hierarchy, which has moved the debate from educational to political realms. Graham (2021) reports that Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, based in Washington, D.C., argues thatCRT poses a threat to the status quo through its presuppositions这与美国宪法的基本原则——个人自由完全相悖。库尔茨还指出，如果大多数美国人接受CRT，政府的宪法体系就无法维持。传统基金会的冈萨雷斯断言，“CRT”之所以能引起美国主流社会的关注，部分原因是白人对黑人和其他少数种族所遭受的痛苦感到内疚。They are increasingly made toevaluate and think about their white privilege(Graham, 2021).
- CRT does not promote division
CRT has been a victim of misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and even deliberate distortion. Those criticizing it and seeking to ban it can barely define the theory the way it is. Several Republicans accuse CRT of rewriting history, manipulating white people into thinking they are inherently racist, and feeling guilty for their privileges. In addition, critics of the theory continuously hold it responsible for spreading divisiveness and creating a wedge between races. Critical race theory is not anti-American, divisive, or hostile. This portrayal is a deliberately politicized misrepresentation of the idea intended only to stop and discourage any discussion about systemic racism, which is present in American society. What CRT does is highlight the cause and effect of slavery that are deeply embedded in the institutions of America and their role in ensuring that white dominance is maintained.
Moreover, it scrutinizes the role of federal laws in the preservation of unequal treatment of people of color (Hobbs, 2021). While the theory does that, there is nothing anti-American about acknowledging thatracism and inequality have always existedin American society. It is perfectly normal to love America and still be critical of structural racism in the community.
The longstanding inequities in economics, education, health care, housing, and the justice system are a testament to the truthfulness of the theory. Racism in America continues to be experienced by most people of color. This truth can not be changed by any effort of denial, distortion, rewriting, or other sweeping under the rug tactics.
The history of slavery and the inhumane treatment of the enslaved people is a genuine part of American history. The enslaved people were abused, raped, and forced into free labor, which was the bedrock of the economic prosperity of slave owners and their descendants. It is disheartening to see that the African Americans have toiled very hard to make right the wrongs of inequality for years, but their efforts have been countered with distortion and lies by those who felt their success might threaten them.
- CRT challenges the ability and neutrality of Civil Rights in Law
CRT lays the foundation of the discourse that sees racism as a much broader problem than individual bigotry and prejudice. It sheds light on the fact that racism, in reality, is a systemic feature of the American social structure and is present in every aspect of society. The theory emphasizes that racism is rooted in the social network to the extent that racial inequality is treated as a normal occurrence without anyone batting an eye. White supremacy is at the heart of the laws, policies, and social norms in America. This has created an environment where people can unintentionally be racist because racist practices and racial inequalities are normal and natural. CRT challenges racial prejudice by arguing that racial segregation is a social construct and not a biological fact. It is the norms, values, and practices prevalent in a society that assigns racial identities.
CRT stresses the importance of storytelling and counternarrative to present both sides of the picture. It uses counter-storytelling to highlight the experiences, truths, stories, and narratives of marginalized communities. A dominant cultural narrative shadows every society in the world. The dominant cultural narrative pushes the lived experiences of minorities to the background and centers history, textbooks, academia, movies, fiction, and media around the lives and experiences of the dominant culture. CRT adopts a revisionist approach so that the narrative is balanced and free of unilateral bias.
CRT draws attention to other aspects of racist experiences that people of color go through, including being discriminated against based on class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religious beliefs. CRT calls for examining these overlapping social stratifications to ensure that segregation based on gender, race, class, and other identities are challenged and softened up gradually.
Opponents see CRT as anti-American as it questions the way history is narrated. Scholars believe that CRT can not be banned just because it draws attention to some of the ugliest parts of American history. They argue that these facts have shaped culture and society in America, and that is why new generations should know the roots of their social institutions. They reject the presupposition that CRT makes the privileged class feel uncomfortable or guilty for their privileges. On the contrary, CRT wants people to see the inequalities in society and question why a certain type or race has more advantages than others.
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