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Critical Race Theory - A Brief (and not at all exhaustive)

What is it? The CRT movement is interested in studying the relationship among race, racism,
and power. Unlike the/a traditional Civil Rights movement(s), which embraces incrementalism
and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order,
including equality theory, legal reasoning, rationalism and
constitutional law.
It started as a movement in the law in the mid1970s, but has spread beyond that discipline to
other academic and sociological disciplines.
Derrick Bell, Professor of Law at NYU is the
movements intellectual father figure. Alan Freeman
who taught law at SUNY Buffalo also wrote some
foundational documents, including one on the US
Supreme Courts race
jurisprudence (the process of law, the concept and principles behind the law that make up the

A Few Basic Tenets of Critical Race Theory

1. Racism is ordinary not aberrational (something unusual or unexpected) ; oppression is
Racism is the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country
2. Racism is a permanent, defining component of American Life
Racism is difficult to cure or address
3. CRT challenges the claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness and meritocracy in
Race matters, as it affects opportunities, perceptions, income, and so much more
4. Asserts that the experiential knowledge of people of color is appropriate, legitimate and an
integral part to analyzing and understanding racial inequality.
Naming one's own reality"using narrative to illuminate and explore experiences
of racial oppression
5. CRT is a framework that is committed to a social justice agenda to eliminate all forms of
subordination of people
Calls for an active role for all scholars in working toward eliminating racial
oppression as a broad goal of ending all forms of oppression. (UCLA School of
Public Affairs)

What CRT Does / How We Utilize CRT

1. Examining issues around race, racial identify

and racism
2. Exploring existing structures of power and
3. Explores counter narratives from
marginalized racial identities
4. Recognize that there is not one simplistic,
unitary identity
a. Intersectionality, as coined by
Kimberle Crenshaw, Professor of Law
at UCLA and Columbia.
Intersectionality is: the study of
overlapping or intersecting social
identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. The
theory suggests thatand seeks to examine howvarious biological, social and
cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion,
caste, age and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous