I have written several articles on Education. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on education.
As unlikely as it seems, a highly obscure academic theory known as Critical Race Theory has completely mainstreamed in society, and now everyone is discussing it. While Critical Race Theory has the noble goal of pointing out problems that can be hard to see and that maintain or constitute racism, it turns out to be a remarkably bad way of going about this.
What does critical race theory mean?
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression
What are the elements of critical race theory?
According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labor markets and politics, giving rise to poverty and criminality in many minority communities.
The Five Tenets of CRT
1. The centrality and intersectionality of racism. Racism exists everywhere in American life –from within our own thoughts, to our personal relationships, to our places of work, to our educational and judicial systems. CRT says that racism isn’t just the actions of individuals but that it’s embedded in our institutions, systems, and culture. It is our way of life.
2. The challenge to dominant ideology. In law and other arenas there is a belief that concepts like neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy can be fully actualized. CRT says, “not so fast, how can one be truly neutral on issues of race when racism is baked into the fabric of America?” (Ummm, it can’t).
CRT pointed out that claims of objectivity and colorblindeness can be ways in which dominant groups camouflage their interests in order to get what’s best for them—check out housing and education in this country if you don’t believe me.
3. The commitment to social justice. CRT as a framework acknowledges how all oppression interrelates and focuses on eradicating racism and other forms of oppression by centering People of Color and taking a stance on issues of social justice. People of Color have been fighting before this country was formed for justice and this has never stopped in some form or fashion.
4. The importance of experiential knowledge. This is huge y’all, CRT says that the lived experiences of People of Color however expressed (storytelling, family history, biographies, scenarios, parables, cuentos, chronicles, narratives)** are crucial to understanding racism and oppression, that they are necessary in our quest for liberation. From the academic, to legal, to activist arenas lived experience must be taken seriously.
5. The use of an interdisciplinary perspective. CRT draws from many different fields in order to create a powerful and nuanced framework for engaging with race and racism. There is no one answer, no one discipline, no one path to freedom. CRT says let’s use all the tools in the toolbox to help educate folks so we can get free.
What is critical race theory and how and why is it used?
Critical race theory (CRT) is a movement that challenges the ability of conventional legal strategies to deliver social and economic justice and specifically calls for legal approaches that take into consideration race as a nexus of American life.
What is the best way for us to respond to racial unrest in our culture? As Americans are looking for answers, many of my Christian friends are turning to a popular response called Social Justice or being Woke. But what is Social Justice? What does it mean to be Woke? It stems from an academic practice called Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory is a more narrowly focused subset of Critical Theory (which is an offshoot of Marxism). It’s been taught for years at American universities. It has saturated the arts and media. Now it’s being promoted by Fortune 500 corporate executives and many evangelical Christian leaders.
If you are part of an oppressor group based on your race, you are always oppressing the oppressed group, whether you know it or not. There’s a moral component here. Oppressed group members have a level of moral knowledge and authority that the oppressor group can never attain. Ibram Kendi in his book, How to Be an Anti-Racist says, “The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism … The language of colorblindness — like the language of ‘not racist’ is a mask to hide racism.” The academic textbook, Is Everyone Really Equal? by DiAngelo and Sensoy includes a chart showing that the dominant group, which is white, oppresses the minority group, people of color, through racism.
Critical Theory extends even further. Suppose a person is in one oppressed group like race (black) but also in one of the oppressor groups like gender (male). This is where the term Intersectionality comes into play. According to Intersectionality, black lesbians will have a more profound moral perspective and authority than those who have only one of those characteristics.
However, according to Critical Theory, a straight white man can gain back some of his moral authenticity by submitting to the oppressed group and affirming the dogma of the oppressed. This is called being Woke. Webster’s defines Woke as “aware or actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”
If a white person brings up a counter-example or argument to this, Critical Theory social justice advocates will likely just ignore them. Why is this so? The answer begins with Critical Race Theory’s view that says that belief in individual responsibility and objectivity are traits of the oppressor group, and not shared by others.
Critical Theory denies that we can have real objective knowledge. Sensoy and DiAngelo write, “An approach based in Critical Theory calls into question the idea that objectivity is desirable or even possible,” and “Who we are (knowers) is intimately connected to our group socialization (including gender, race, class and sexuality) … what you know is connected to ‘who you are’ and ‘where you stand.’”
We don’t invent truth, we observe and respond to it. This conviction has been our heritage for centuries. The knowledge of objective truth became the basis of the Scientific Revolution, medicine, the curing of disease, artistic genius and the creation of free, human cultures.
But the Critical Theory school of thought rejects objective scientific knowledge and embraces the agnosticism founded in the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant said we can’t know reality as it is in itself, but only our interpretations of our experiences, formed in our minds. This has led to postmodernism, which (among other things) teaches that you cannot know reality or true meaning in and of itself. You might have a “Womanist interpretation” or a “Black hermeneutic,” but you can’t draw any objective conclusions independent of your “identity.”
If critical theorists say that according to their system, true, objective knowledge is impossible, why should we listen to what they have to say? Aren’t they assuming that, by reading what they wrote, we can gain knowledge that applies to our lives? If so, doesn’t this undermine their view that we can’t have knowledge?
Another logical fallacy to listen for is the Genetic Fallacy. The Genetic Fallacy comes into play when someone says your statement (even if it is true!) is irrelevant solely based on one’s origin, gender, history or source rather than the truthfulness of the statement. Thus some proponents of Critical Race Theory will say, “White men should shut up and listen.” But if they are silent (i.e., listening), that’s also violence: White silence is violence, too. With charity and clarity, we should remind our friends, truth claims do not have race or gender. That includes statements about ethical truths. So a person can speak truth, even if the person is of a different gender or origin.
Critical Theory is also irrational in teaching that “lived experience” gives the oppressed group exclusive access to truth that the so-called oppressor is bound from because of his ethnicity or gender. Granted, majority group members should listen to minority group members. Listening is prudent — it expresses love and it aids understanding. But we must be careful never to suggest that one’s race, gender or sociological identity gives them unchallengeable insight into all of reality. To affirm such is false humility. Critical Race Theory promises liberation for the oppressed, but it falls short in explaining or solving our current human problems. In its aggressive judgments, it quickly creates new hierarchies that destroy the value of other human life. Our fundamental identity is in our humanity and our relationship with our Creator, not in secondary and less important distinctions of ethnicity or sex.
The theory’s promised liberation also follows on bad historical precedent. Too many regimes sought salvation through liberation, but at the expense of denying the life and liberty of others. Oppression is morally wrong, but so are sins of anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, revenge and pride. Seeking liberation through Critical Theory, Social Justice leads instead to more injustice. It’s a cycle that can never satisfy. Through the person of Jesus Christ, though, there is a true solution. “But God demonstrates his love of us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” True freedom comes when we are liberated from the bondage of our own sins, by trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection for forgiveness.
Critical Theory is a school of thought that originated in Frankfurt, Germany, right before World War II. The school extended the concept of Marxism beyond economics to address perceived power structures in culture. For example, Jewish people were labeled “privileged” and deemed worthy of persecution.Karl Marx taught in his Communist Manifesto that the history of all society is class struggles. He emphasized his distaste towards capitalism for setting up a conflict between the classes of the owners (the bourgeoisie) and the working class (the proletariat). Critical Race Theory differs in saying that it’s not about owners versus workers — it’s about race.
Critical Theory divides people into two groups: the oppressors and the oppressed. This judgment is not based on individual behavior, but on broad categories like race, sex, gender and religion. Whether you are an oppressor or the oppressed depends on your group identity.
In the 1970’s and 80’s a group of lawyers, activists, and legal scholars recognized that they needed a new framework to combat racism and oppression in America. They blended concepts from critical legal studies and radical feminism with the influences of the Black Power and Chicano movements of the time and critical race theory was born. At first it was mainly referenced in legal scholarship, but now it’s used across many different fields and disciplines. Critical race theory is grounded in the Civil Rights Movement and from its beginning has focused on social justice, liberation, and economic empowerment. Its origins can be traced to the critical legal studies movement of the 1970s. Critical
race theory emerged from critical legal studies because of the latter’s inability to address People of Color’s struggles. Kevin Brown and Darrell Jackson (2013) expressed how critical race theory emerged from the convergence of historical developments and the need to respond to those developments. Dissatisfied with critical legal studies’ lack of focus on race and racism in the legal process, a group of legal scholars convened to name and plan a legal research agenda that focused on the effects of race and racism. These scholars recognized the need for new methods for addressing the various ways racism manifests. Thus, critical race theory emerged as a form of legal scholarship that sought to understand how White supremacy and its oppression of People of Color had been established and perpetuated. In doing so, race and racism was placed at the center of scholarship and analysis by focusing on such issues as affirmative action, racial districting, campus speech codes, and the disproportionate sentencing of People of Color in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Critical Race Theory in Higher Education
Critical race theory (CRT) emerged in response to perceived delays in civil rights advancements. After significant legal advances for People of Color during the U.S. Civil Rights Era, the 1970s saw a reemergence of hostility toward legal policy, such as affirmative action. By the 1980s, a noted group of legal scholars, including Derrick A. Bell, Jr., Charles Lawrence, Richard Delgado, Lani Guinier, Mari Matsuda, Patricia Williams, and Kimberle Crenshaw, began to question the role of law in maintaining and further constructing racially based social and economic oppression. In addition to focusing on the stalled advancement of civil rights legislation, these early critical race scholars sought to challenge prevailing racial injustices while committing themselves to interrogating racism’s continued presence in U.S. jurisprudence. Thus, before turning our attention to how the theory has been applied in higher education, we provide a brief overview of critical legal studies, critical race theory, and key tenets that have framed its application.
Racism is a fundamental cause of racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes. Researchers have a critical role to play in confronting racism by understanding it and intervening on its impact on the health and well-being of minority populations. This requires new paradigms and theoretical frameworks that are responsive to structural racism’s present-day influence on health, health disparities, and research. To address the complexity with which racism influences both health and the production of knowledge about minority populations, the field must accelerate the professional development of researchers who are committed to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities and achieving health equity. In this commentary, we describe a unique and vital training experience, the Public Health Critical Race Praxis Institute at the University of Maryland’s Center for Health Equity. Through this training institute, we have focused on the experiential knowledge of diverse researchers committed to examining racism and trained them on putting racism at the forefront of their research agendas. The Institute brought together investigators from across the United States, including junior and senior faculty as well as postdoctoral fellows. The public health critical race methodology was purposefully used to structure the Institute’s curriculum, which instructed the scholars on Critical Race Theory as a framework in research. During a 2.5-day training in February 2014, scholars participated in activities, attended presentations, joined in reflections, and interacted with Institute faculty. The scholars indicated a strong desire to focus on race and racism and adopt a Public Health Critical Race Praxis framework by utilizing Critical Race Theory in their research.
‘This is really racism masquerading as anti-racism’
A major nuclear laboratory forced white male executives to undergo “white privilege” training that amounted to “racism masquerading as anti-racism,” City Journal contributing editor Chris Rufo told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Thursday.
“This was a mandatory program for white male executives where they were supposed to essentially break down their white male identity, confess their sins to diversity trainers,” Rufio told host Tucker Carlson of the session at Sandia National Laboratories. “And at the end of this session, they actually had to write letters of apology to women and people of color based on what they learned about their own privilege.
“It’s nothing more than a cult indoctrination session that’s based on critical race theory, something that is spreading like wildfire through our public institutions,” Rufo added. “And it’s, you know, almost more dangerous than the nuclear weapons themselves.”
He went on to warn that race theory concepts had gained currency in institutions of all shapes and sizes.
“I think through this kind of complex cultural construct that plays on human frailties and emotions and guilt, we’ve allowed this to really perpetuate all of our institutions,” he said. “And I’m afraid that, at this time, it is almost everywhere from the smallest local school district in Tennessee or Kansas to the highest levels of the federal government.
“This is something that under the radar has just spread like wildfire. And I think it’s important to call it out. And it must be stopped.”
“And I’ll tell you right now,” he told Carlson. “I’m declaring a one-man war against critical race theory in the federal government.”
This is a grim but fair description of Critical Race Theory, and, what’s worse, it’s woefully incomplete. There are other horrible ideas at the very core of Critical Race Theory that fall in this same mold that we do not have time to list here. These include the idea that racism barely gets better, if at all, that equality is a source of racism, that people who benefit from “racism” have no incentives to be against racism, that racism is a zero-sum conflict that was arranged by white people so that no one else can have a real chance in society, that the races cannot truly understand one another (while demanding that they must and that racism is the whole cause of the inevitable failure), that racially privileged people are inherently oppressors and everyone else is inherently oppressed (this is derived from Marxism applied to racial groups), and that the only way to end racism is through a social revolution that unmakes the current society entirely and replaces it with something engineered by Critical Race Theory. It is easy to see what kinds of problems these doctrines will create in practice, and it’s horrible how Critical Race Theory consistently preys upon the best parts of our natures to achieve its goals (which, if it were correct (and it’s not), mostly leaves only the worst candidates to oppose it—real white supremacists—which it then uses as evidence of its bogus claims).
Therefore, there are many good reasons that have nothing to do with real racism to reject most of what Critical Race Theory teaches. Good people have every reason to reject Critical Race Theory for better alternatives, and the main reason they don’t is because they don’t know what it is and see what what it offers kind of sounds right and sort of seems good.
In summary, we can see that Critical Race Theory is a truly horrible way to deal with race issues and racism, and that would be true even if every problem it points out were 100% true. It simply is not a good way to go about these problems, and, as its advocates might say in realizing such a situation, we have an obligation to educate ourselves (about the problems and weaknesses of Critical Race Theory) and to do better (than they can hope to do).
Resources: adawaygroup.com, “What exactly is Critical Race Theory?”, By The Adaway Group; “Critical Race Theory: An Examination of its Past, Present, and Future Implications”, By Nicholas Daniel Hartlep , M.S.Ed.; “Commentary: Critical Race Theory Training to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: The Public Health Critical Race Praxis Institute”, By James Butler, Craig S. Fryer, Mary A. Garza, Sandra C. Quinn, Stephen B. Thomas; foxnews.com, “Journalist declares ‘one-man war against critical race theory’ after nuke lab holds ‘white privilege’ training”, By Victor Garcia; Wikipedia, “Critical Race Theory;” uvm.edu, “The Role of Critical Race Theory in Higher Education,” By Payne Hiraldo; glennbeck.com, “Teacher speaks out | Five OUTRAGEOUS ‘Critical Race Theory’ lessons unions want to teach your kids;” “Critical Race Theory,” By Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic; stream.org, “What’s Wrong With Critical Race Theory?” By Dave Sterrett; newdiscourses.com, “Eight Big Reasons Critical Race Theory Is Terrible for Dealing with Racism,” By James Lindsay;
In their seminal book, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, Delgado and Stefencic introduced critical race theory to the social sciences more broadly. Delgado and Stefencic claimed that critical race theory is based around the following premises:
- Racism is ordinary, not aberrational.
- Racism serves important purposes.
- Race and races are products of social thought and relations [and] categories that society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient.
- Intersectionality: No person has a single, easily stated, unitary identity […] everyone has potentially conflicting, overlapping identities, loyalties and allegiances.
More recently, Bonilla-Silva has redeveloped the tenets of CRT to the following:
- Racism is embedded in the structure of society.
- Racism has a material foundation.
- Racism changes and develops over different times.
- Racism is often ascribed a degree of rationality.
- Racism has a contemporary basis.
Teacher speaks out | Five OUTRAGEOUS ‘Critical Race Theory’ lessons unions want to teach your kids:
An anonymous California says she was shocked when her mandated training included material based off Karl Marx’s “critical race theory,” which argues that data, facts, and the scientific method are exemplary of “whiteness” and are “inherently racist.” She says teachers were taught during the training session that racism is inherent in all white people, owning property is a form of “whiteness,” and that white people only help black people if it’s self-serving. The teacher, who had her voice disguised in fear of retaliation from her CA union, says she and a small minority of colleagues are terrified to publicly speak out against the indoctrination that’s occurring inside schools at dangerous levels. They are not required to implement the training in actual curriculum but they are encouraged to talk to their kids about it. She asked colleagues what they thought about the training and many said that it was not sitting right with them but maybe it was because they had racist tendencies themselves.
Eight Big Reasons Critical Race Theory Is Terrible for Dealing with Racism
Critical Race Theory…
- believes racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, and every interaction and therefore has its advocates look for it everywhere
- relies upon “interest convergence” (white people only give black people opportunities and freedoms when it is also in their own interests) and therefore doesn’t trust any attempt to make racism better
- is against free societies and wants to dismantle them and replace them with something its advocates control
- only treats race issues as “socially constructed groups,” so there are no individuals in Critical Race Theory
- believes science, reason, and evidence are a “white” way of knowing and that storytelling and lived experience is a “black” alternative, which hurts everyone, especially black people
- rejects all potential alternatives, like colorblindness, as forms of racism, making itself the only allowable game in town (which is totalitarian)
- acts like anyone who disagrees with it must do so for racist and white supremacist reasons, even if those people are black (which is also totalitarian)
- cannot be satisfied, so it becomes a kind of activist black hole that threatens to destroy everything it is introduced into
1) Critical Race Theory believes racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, and every interaction.
Critical Race Theory begins from the assumption that racism is an ordinary part of every aspect of life in our societies. Foundational Critical Race Theory scholars Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic write, “First, that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—‘normal science,’ the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country,” on page 7 of the standard introductory textbook on the subject, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.
Notice that these scholars list this assumption first among the “basic tenets of Critical Race Theory” in the introduction of their book. Understand also that what they mean by “racism” isn’t even what most people think racism means. It is not prejudice based upon race or believing some races to be superior or inferior to others that they mean by “racism.” It is, instead, the “system” of everything that happens in the social world and beyond that results in any disparity that works in the favor of “racially privileged” groups (on average) or any “racially oppressed” person claiming they experience racial oppression.
These assumptions lead people who take up Critical Race Theory to look for racism in everything until they find it. That is, after all, the job of a “critical” theorist or activist: to look for the hidden problems that they assume must be present in whatever they scrutinize.
In the workplace that adopts Critical Race Theory, this means that it’s only a matter of time until someone with that worldview finds out how your entire company and its culture is “racist.” At that point, they will cause a meltdown that forces everyone to take sides and demand a reorganization of the entire (now divided) office culture and management.
In schools, it will mean teaching our children to think this way and always be looking for racism in every situation and interaction. In our personal relationships, it means that friends and even family members—especially our kids who have already been educated with Critical Race Theory ideas that have been incorporated in our schools—will eventually call each other out and reject one another, because tolerating racism is also considered a form of racism that would have to be discovered and stopped.
2) “Interest convergence”: White people only give black people opportunities and freedoms when it is also in their own interests.
One of the founders of Critical Race Theory, a (now deceased) scholar at Harvard Law named Derrick Bell, made his “Interest-Convergence Thesis” central to the Theory. Turning to Delgado and Stefancic again,
The second feature, sometimes called “interest convergence” or material determinism, adds a further dimension. Because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class people (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it. Consider, for example, Derrick Bell’s shocking proposal (discussed in a later chapter) that Brown v. Board of Education—considered a great triumph of civil rights litigation—may have resulted more from the self-interest of elite whites than a desire to help blacks. (p. 7)
It isn’t hard to see how paranoid and cynical this idea is, but it’s also horrible when you pause to consider some of its implications. Take the demand that also comes from Critical Race Theory that everyone should be an anti-racist. This sounds good on the surface but is horrible underneath. If someone with “racial privilege” (including white, Asian, Hispanic, Arab, Indian, and lighter-skinned black people) decides to become an anti-racist in accordance with this request, the Interest-Convergence Thesis would say they only did so to make themselves look good, protect themselves from criticism, or to avoid confronting their own racism. This isn’t a fringe idea or possible gap in the concept, either. The academic literature on “whiteness studies” is filled with this notion, including book-length treatments by academic scholars, for example one titled Good White People that was published in 2018 by the State University of New York Press.
The Interest-Convergence Thesis makes it literally impossible for anyone with any racial privilege (again, as outlined by Critical Race Theory) to do anything right because anything they do right must also have been self-interested. If Critical Race Theory makes a demand of people with any form of racial privilege and they comply, they just make themselves more complicit in “racism” as Critical Race Theory sees it. By giving people no way out, Critical Race Theory becomes deeply manipulative and unable to be satisfied in its lists of demands.
3) Critical Race Theory is against free societies.
Believe it or not, Critical Race Theory is not a liberal idea. It is, in fact, critical of liberal societies and against the idea of freedom to its core. Critical Race Theory sees a free society as a way to structure and maintain inequities by convincing racial minorities not to want to do radical identity politics. Since Critical Race Theory exists specifically to agitate for and enable radical racial identity politics, it is therefore against free societies and how they are organized. (In this way, it is very different than the Civil Rights Movement it incorrectly claims to continue.)
Turning to Delgado and Stefancic, a critical stance about free societies and their norms is again central to Critical Race Theory: “critical race scholars are discontent with liberalism as a framework for addressing America’s racial problems. Many liberals believe in color blindness and neutral principles of constitutional law” (p. 21). The famous “critical whiteness educator” Robin DiAngelo (author of the now overwhelmingly famous book White Fragility) puts it even more plainly, writing with a colleague named Ozlem Sensoy in a widely read education book called Is Everyone Really Equal?,
These movements [Critical Theory movements upon which Critical Race Theory is based] initially advocated for a type of liberal humanism (individualism, freedom, and peace) but quickly turned to a rejection of liberal humanism. The ideal of individual autonomy that underlies liberal humanism (the idea that people are free to make independent rational decisions that determine their own fate) was viewed as a mechanism for keeping the marginalized in their place by obscuring larger structural systems of inequality. In other words, it [free society] fooled people into believing they had more freedom and choice than societal structures actually allow. (p. 5)
In other words, Critical Race Theory sees free societies and the ideals that make them work—individualism, freedom, peace—as a kind of tacit conspiracy theory that we all participate in to keep racial minorities down. When its advocates accuse people of being “complicit in systems of racism,” this is part of what they mean. Obviously, they would prefer that we do not have free societies and would rather arrange society as they see fit and make us all go along with their ideas.
4) Critical Race Theory only treats race issues as “socially constructed groups,” so there are no individuals in Critical Race Theory.
Critical Race Theory isn’t just against free societies and the individualism that enables them, but it also doesn’t even believe individuals meaningfully exist at all! In Critical Race Theory, every person has to be understood in terms of the social groups they are said to inhabit, and these are determined by their identity, including race. “A third theme of critical race theory, the ‘social construction’ thesis, holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations. Not objective, inherent, or fixed, they correspond to no biological or genetic reality; rather, races are categories that society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient” (p. 7), write Delgado and Stefancic.
Under Critical Race Theory, races are categories that society invents and that we impose entirely through social assumptions (mostly stereotypes), and people are members of those racial categories whether they want to be or not. Moreover, they argue that society is “socially stratified,” which means that different social groups (like these racial groups) have differentiated access to the opportunities and resources of society. While this bears some truth on average, it ignores individual variations that are obvious when considering examples of powerful, rich, and famous black people like Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Kanye West. Critical Race Theory forces people into these averages, though, and considers them primarily in terms of their group identity rather than their individual identity. This is part of why they use the word “folks” instead of “people”—it designates a social group.
Thus, in Critical Race Theory, the goal of ideally treating every person as an individual who is equal before the law and meant to be judged upon the contents of their character and merits of their work is considered a myth that keeps racial minorities down. Instead, it sees people according to their racial groups only. This is why it is so common that progressive racial programs end up hurting the people they’re written to help most. “Racial justice,” in Critical Race Theory, means getting “justice” for the group, which it says is a social construction, not for the real person, who is just a member of that group. As Lynn Lemisko writes on page 193 of Educator to Educator, another education manual in Critical Social Justice programs: “If democracy is about individual rights (justice for individuals), then social justice is about group rights (justice for groups). And for me there is a fundamental difference between the general notion of justice and the notion of social justice.”
5) Critical Race Theory believes science, reason, and evidence are a “white” way of knowing and that storytelling and lived experience is a “black” alternative.
Remember above, where Delgado and Stefancic said that “normal science” is a part of the everyday, ordinary racism of our societies? That’s because Critical Race Theory is not particularly friendly to science, residing somewhere between generally disinterested in science and openly hostile to it (often depending upon the circumstances). This is because Critical Race Theory, using that “social construction” thesis, believes that the power and politics of cultural groups make their way intrinsically into everything that culture produces. Thus, science is just politics by other means to Critical Race Theory.
Since modern science was predominantly produced by white, Western men, Critical Race Theory therefore views science as a white and Western “way of knowing.” Critical Race Theory therefore maintains that science encodes and perpetuates “white dominance” and thus isn’t really fitting for black people who inhabit a (political) culture of Blackness.
This is obviously a horrible sentiment, and it is one that goes against one of the very first pillars of science: universality. Universality in science says that it doesn’t matter who does an experiment; the result will always be the same. This is because science believes in objectivity, which Critical Race Theory also calls an oppressive myth. For example, Robin DiAngelo and Ozlem Sensoy write,
One of the key contributions of critical theorists concerns the production of knowledge. Given that the transmission of knowledge is an integral activity in schools, critical scholars in the field of education have been especially concerned with how knowledge is produced. These scholars argue that a key element of social injustice involves the claim that particular knowledge is objective, neutral, and universal. An approach based on critical theory calls into question the idea that objectivity is desirable or even possible. The term used to describe this way of thinking about knowledge is that knowledge is socially constructed. When we refer to knowledge as socially constructed we mean that knowledge is reflective of the values and interests of those who produce it. (p. 7)
Sensoy and DiAngelo also claim that science “presume[s] superiority and infallibility of the scientific method” (p. 5) (by the way, this is false), and therefore we should be asking “whose rationality” and “whose presumed objectivity” underlies the scientific method. Then, even more cynically, they insist that we must ask whose interests are served by science, as though that’s the relevant question to ask of a universalist method. Critical Race Theory falsely asserts that white people’s interests are primarily served by science. This isn’t all just wrong (and genuinely racist!), it’s dangerous.
Continuing the genuinely racist thinking that black people aren’t suited to or served by science, Delgado and Stefancic say that storytelling about their “lived experience” is the primary mode by which black people and Critical Race Theory produce and advance knowledge. Importantly, these lived experiences are only considered valid if they agree with Critical Race Theory. They write,
Critical race theorists have built on everyday experiences with perspective, viewpoint, and the power of stories and persuasion to come to a better understanding of how Americans see race. They have written parables, autobiography, and “counterstories,” and have investigated the factual background and personalities, frequently ignored in the casebooks, of well-known cases. (p. 38)
While stories can be informative, to create a position that science is a “way of knowing” for white, Western people (especially men) and storytelling is one more suited to racial minorities, Critical Race Theory is itself racist (against racial minorities) and cripples the people it claims to help. This happens in multiple ways, including by undermining their capacity for critical thinking, teaching them to see the world in an us-versus-them way that oppresses them, and associating them with harmful, negative stereotypes that rigorous methods are what white people, and not black people, use.
6) Critical Race Theory rejects all potential alternatives, like colorblindness, as forms of racism.
Critical Race Theory is completely against the common-sense idea that race becomes less socially relevant and racism is therefore diminished by not focusing on race all the time. Where liberalism spent centuries removing social significance from racial categories once it had been introduced in the 16th century, Critical Race Theory inserts it again, front and center.
In fact, as you might guess now, it sees the idea of “colorblindness” as one of the most racist things possible because it hides the real racism from view. “While colorblindness sounds good in theory, in practice it is highly problematic,” write Sensoy and DiAngelo (p. 108). As we read from Delgado and Stefancic,
Color-blind, or “formal,” conceptions of equality, expressed in rules that insist only on treatment that is the same across the board, can thus remedy only the most blatant forms of discrimination, such as mortgage redlining or the refusal to hire a black Ph.D. rather than a white high school dropout, that do stand out and attract our attention.
While there is a point here—that being too colorblind can cause someone not to see racism at all, even when it is a real problem and especially when its influence is subtle (this is called “racism-blindness”)—the remedy Critical Race Theory gives to this imperfection in the colorblind approach is to do exactly the opposite. Thus, racism has to be made relevant in every situation where racism is present, which is every situation, as we saw in point #1 above, and it has attached incredible amounts of social significance to race and how it factors into every interaction. That means you have to find and focus upon the “hidden” racism in your workplace, your school, your society, your neighborhood, your books, your food, your music, your hobbies, your faith, your church, your community, your friends, your relationships, and yourself (and everything else too) all the time, according to Critical Race Theory.
This has the opposite of the putatively intended effect. Although it does cause people to see some legitimate racism that they would have otherwise missed, it makes all of our relationships and social systems extremely fragile and tense, ready to explode over a highly divisive issue. It also diverts resources from doing real work or building real relationships because looking for and thinking about racism all the time takes effort. (Critical Race Theory says minority races already have to think about racism all the time and only white people have the privilege not to, but this is, again, more sloppy analysis that ignores the reports and experiences of every racial minority who disagrees.)
7) Critical Race Theory acts like anyone who disagrees with it must do so for racist and white supremacist reasons, even if those people are black.
Following the “social construction” thesis discussed above in point #4, Critical Race Theory has outlined what the essential experience of each racial group is. It then judges individual people (especially of minority races) on how well they give testimonial to that experience—which is to say, they judge individual people based on how well they support Critical Race Theory. This makes it impossible to disagree with Critical Race Theory, even if you are black.
Before we discuss the case of how impossible disagreement is for white people (and other “racially privileged” people) consider a few poignant examples. The black superstar musician Kanye West famously donned a “Make America Great Again” hat and said he thinks for himself. In response, the poet laureate of Critical Race Theory, Ta-Nehisi Coates, wrote a widely read article suggesting that West is no longer really black. The black musician Daryl Davis, who is most famous for talking hundreds of real white supremacists out of their Ku Klux Klan hoods, once tried to invite a conversation of this sort in 2019, and members of the nominally “antifascist” group “Antifa” called him a “white supremacist” for being willing to associate with (rather than fight or kill) the people he invited to have a conversation.
This phenomenon can be explained. As Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the New York Times Magazine 1619 Project (a Critical Race Theory historiography—not an article of history), tweeted (and then deleted) that there is “racially black” on the one hand, and “politically Black” on the other. Critical Race Theory is only interested in the identity politics associated with being “politically Black,” and anyone who disagrees with Critical Race Theory—even if “racially black”—does not qualify. The common way to phrase this is that they are “not really Black.” This means that in Critical Race Theory, diversity (which it calls for often) must be only skin deep. Everyone’s politics must agree and must agree with Critical Race Theory.
This is obviously much worse a problem for white people or others who are said to have “racial privilege.” There are more concepts in Critical Race Theory to deal specifically with how and why white people are racists for disagreeing with Critical Race Theory than perhaps any other idea. Charles Mills claims that all whites take part in a “racial contract” to support white supremacy that is never discussed but just part of the social fabric. Barbara Applebaum says all white people have “white complicity” with white supremacy because they automatically benefit from white privilege and “white ignorance” which is a way for them to willfully refuse to engage (and proper engagement can only be proven by agreeing). Robin DiAngelo says white people enjoy “white comfort” and therefore suffer “white fragility” that prevents them from confronting their racism through Critical Race Theory. (Therefore, she says, anything that maintains white comfort should be considered suspect and in need of disrupting.) Alison Bailey claims that when racially privileged people disagree with Critical Race Theory, they are engaging in a “defensive move” called “privilege-preserving epistemic pushback,” which means that they are just arguing to keep their privilege and could not possibly have legitimate disagreements. All of these ideas implicate racially privileged people in racism anytime they disagree with Critical Race Theory.
8) Critical Race Theory cannot be satisfied.
We have already seen how Critical Race Theory cannot be disagreed with, even by black people. We have also seen how it rejects all alternatives and how it believes any success that it has comes down to “interest convergence.” Because it rejects science, it cannot be falsified or proven wrong by evidence, and because it assumes racism is present and relevant to all situations and interactions, even the acceptance of Critical Race Theory must somehow also contain racism. Therefore, Critical Race Theory cannot be satisfied. It is, in this way, like a black hole. No matter how much you give to it, it cannot be filled and only gets stronger—and it will tear apart anything that gets too close to it.
This means that if your workplace takes up Critical Race Theory, eventually activists will start to make demands and will threaten to make trouble if they do not get their way. (They usually do not ask.) If you give into them, you will not satisfy them, however, because Critical Race Theory cannot be satisfied. It is guaranteed, before you do anything at all, that you will do it wrong because of your racism. You did it out of “interest convergence,” to make yourself look good because of your racism. You did it in a way that just created new problems that amount to racism. You didn’t do it sooner, faster, or better because of your racism. No matter what you do, the resulting situation must contain racism, and the Critical Race Theory activist’s job is to find it and hold you to account.
Therefore, giving into a demand made by Critical Race Theory cannot appease it. It can, however, signal that you will give into their demands, which will then continue to come and to escalate. As we have seen in countless examples across the corporate world recently, this will include demands for you to step down from your job and give it to activists, and even that won’t satisfy them. And if the venture fails as a result of all of this disruption, racism was the cause of that failure too.