• Kyia Young

Critical Race Theory studies relationship between race, racism

January 22, 2017

The Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a movement involving a “collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism and power,” according to “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.”

The movement puts conventional civil and ethnic rights into a “broader perspective that includes economics, history, context, group and self-interest, and even feelings and the unconscious,” according to “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.”

As stated in my previous articles from the microaggression series, microaggression and/or macroaggression are just small branches of which the theory consists. In the mid-1970s, many scholars, activists, lawyers and teachers were brought together to discuss how the Civil Rights Movement could move forward.

During this time, many of them could tell that the movement started to become less and less effective as time went on. Instead of just protesting, holding public speeches, and forming secret societies, they decided to take it a step further. These individuals wanted to educate themselves more on the racial issues that were still involved in America so it could be transformed into something greater for the generations to come. The main pioneers of this CRT movement were men by the names of Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman and Richard Delgado.

One of the most historic figures of this theory is Derrick Bell, former professor of law at New York University. He is considered the “intellectual father figure” of this movement. As of today, he is still remembered for his push for equality and social justice within the black community. Alan Freeman, State University of New York at Buffalo law school professor, wrote articles, including the “U.S. Supreme Court’s race jurisprudence,” about how the theory not only tried to remain neutral in all of its aspects, it still legitimized racism. Some other major figures included Angela Harris, Charles Lawrence and Patricia Williams.

Freeman’s article also explains the CRT’s main purpose for its existence describing how the theory has, “an activist dimension.” That “not only tries to understand (African American’s) social situation, but to change it; it sets out not only to ascertain how society organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies, but to transform it for the better.”

Now you might be asking, “What’s this really about?”

There were set “tenets” underneath this theory that described what and why this theory exists. The three main tenets are as follows:

  1. “Racism is ordinary, not aberrational” — “the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country.”

  2. “Most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material.”

Making something race related to be considered a “social norm” allows racism to become harder to cure . Whenever you stick to the norm or what you’re used to, it becomes a habit. As if to say, someone would prefer to hire a white man for a job over the black man even if they do have the same qualifications and experience. Also, being “color-blind” or saying “I don’t see color” doesn’t make you less racist. As Trevor Noah once stated, “There’s no problem with seeing color, it all matters on how you treat color.”

  1. “Social Construction” thesis — meaning “race and races are products of social thought and relations.”

Races and our unique differences are subconscious, meaning we made labels and separated our differences as if we don’t belong, or we all weren’t created equal.

This racial theory also opened many doors for other ethnicities in the U.S. Subgroups were created for the Asian Americans, Latinos and other immigrants who wanted to pave the way for their future generations. Many of their literature was collaborated, written and shared during their meeting together held through conferences and gatherings.


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