Critical Race Theory

While I have a little bit of exposure to materialist critical theory before say 1970, I confess myself to be woefully under-read in CRT itself and I’m not even sure where to begin fixing that. I’m putting this thread up as a place where people can post links to papers that they think are seminal in CRT so I can fix this inadequacy, but also as a place where we can discuss what CRT is and isn’t and how to address the current moral panic around CRT that is happening across the US and most likely in a school board near you.

What should we read? What are the best papers or books?

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I’ll start with the obvious since it helped kick off the “controversy”: the NYT’s 1619 Project does an excellent job connecting the dots from where we were to why things are where they are today.

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Link: The 1619 Project - The New York Times

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The term has become twisted by RWNJs into something far less than its original use. Much like Globalism, Libertarianism, Political Correctness, Socialism…

What it means in non-academic discussion these days is, opposition to teaching dishonest white supremacist revisionist exceptionalism bullshit.

Pointing out how things like genocide, slavery, discrimination, and institutional bigotry are part of our history. Useful stuff towards understanding our civil liberties and what happens when they aren’t present. Of course Republicans hate such ideas. They are as close to fascist right now. They have pared down their identity to white supremacy. Even losing a lot of their “handmaiden to industry” positions.

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As a layman, I have kind of interpreted CRT (in light of RWNJ conniption fits) as anything that counters American exceptionalism and Great White Savior ideology. That is, of course, way oversimplified, but does for me as shorthand.

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I’ve just started reading this, and my biggest takeaway thus far is that CRT (in of itself) almost certainly will not be taught at any primary or ordinary secondary school in the US. The concepts being discussed require a solid foundation in history, American in particular. And, of course, there’s the biggest issue for conservatives. If a student receives a balanced, fact-based education on American history, CRT won’t seem like an unreasonable concept. On the other hand, for those indoctrinated in rah-rah USA! USA! history, CRT (or any critical examination) feels like an assault on fundamental values.

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These papers from the Harvard Law Review all seem to be cited often:
Racial Critiques of Legal Academia, Randall Kennedy

Race, Reform, Retrenchment: Transformation and Legitimation in Anti-discrimination Law, Kimberli Williams Crenshaw

Whiteness As Property, Cheryl Harris

Brown v. Board of Education* and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma, Derrick Bell

I will read them when I get a chance.

Has anyone read How to be Anti-racist or White Fragility? What did you think of either?

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By Benjamin Wallace-Wells
June 18, 2021

I’m not sure what to select to quote here. Worth reading the whole piece, I thought.

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Surprising source for a pro-CRT argument

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I’ve read the latter. It’s a good primer for white folks about what’s wrong with being typically white. But if all it does is raise white awareness to the point where they can pat themselves on the proverbial back for having read it, well, that’s of course a bad thing, and probably a common thing.

Good review:

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Food for thought:

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What I want to know is can we ban the teaching of The Great Man theory of history?!

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On the ground, most right leaning folks are just against it because the Liberals seem to like it. And they don’t care what it really means, because what it means is less important than the fact that Liberals like it.

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Not a great general explainer, but if you didn’t see this yet:

It’s at least the beginning of a discussion about what CRT isn’t and quick primer on what the right is trying to make it out to be.

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While walking to the library, I noticed the front page of one of the local newspapers I don’t subscribe to.

Yes, Virginia – there is Critical Race Theory in our schools”.

A little surprisingly, no allusions to the famous Christmas piece were made.

Among the declarations was the following:

Critical Race Theory (CRT) pushes the distorted concept that the most important thing about a person is their race, separating it above the person as an individual. It divides people by those who are “minoritized” and those who are “privileged” and “oppressors”, advancing Marxist ideology that, by default, all interactions are derived from racism, our history and nation is built on racism, and all inequities are, yes, ascribed to racism. The color of one’s skin defines whether they are racist, not their beliefs or actions.

citing PragerU, of all loons.

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Also, not an academic report, but maybe a good primer (and has some linked resources):

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

(Thank you for starting this thread. I’m still trying to find my sea legs here, too.)

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sure. connect the theory to Hegel, and thence to Marx…

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I think part of the issue there is that academics will sometimes use “Marxist theory” to mean any kind of materialist critical theory (because Marx basically invented doing materialist critical theory). It doesn’t follow from someone doing Marxist Theory that they are a Marxist. You’d be left with saying absurd things like Hayek is a Marxist.

There is additionally the basic problem that if you have races and you have a limited resource competitive economy that there is tautologically going to be some races that are going to be less well off than others and if your goal is to eliminate structural racism you are somewhat forced to say that ideally we would not want to have a limited resource competitive economy, which to certain ears entails communism.

Really though, “Marxism” is just another of the words for boogeyman that the right uses. They use post-modernism the same way. They’ll even put them together and say “post-modern Marxism” as if someone is professing to believe in such a thing. Add “cancel culture”, “wokeness”, “intersectionality” to the list of things that right-wingers think are scary as well.

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lots of links in this article.

There’s something I don’t understand about this conflict-- many of the leftish pieces I’ve read point to “whiteness” being a social construct, the injustices being ingrained in our society in a systemic fashion, and yet the right frames this as an attack against individuals on the basis of biological characteristics.

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