A Deeper Look at Critical Race Theory

In last week’s column on Critical Race Theory, I said that I had barely scratched the surface of this complex movement. To dig deeper, I turned to a collection of essays from the founders and early adherents of the movement – “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement” – published in 1996. Here’s what I found in the volume and in an article by Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the book’s editors and one of the movement’s most insightful thinkers.

Critical race theory denies the possibility of objectivity. As the editors of the volume state in their insightful introduction, “A race scholarship in America can never be written from a detachment distance or with an attitude of objectivity. . . . Scholarship – the formal production, identification and organization of what will be called “knowledge” – is inevitably political. And politics is about power, especially the struggle between those who seek to maintain oppressive hierarchies and those who seek to overthrow them. The stock market can be a powerful weapon in this struggle.

Theory puts running at the center of our attention. As the editors have said, it aims to “recover and revitalize the radical tradition of racial awareness,” a tradition “which was rejected when the integration, assimilation and ideal of color blindness became official standards. of racial enlightenment ”.

The founders of Critical Race Theory identified much more with the Black Power movements than with those who worked for integration. This form of racial consciousness cannot be reduced to class consciousness. Senator Bernie Sanders, who understood the struggle for equality as a class struggle, learned this lesson the hard way during his quest for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Critical Race Theory is an explicitly left movement inspired by the thinking of an Italian neo-Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Against classical Marxism, for which material conditions are paramount, Gramsci (1891-1937) focused on “hegemony” – the belief system which “strengthens existing social arrangements and convinces the dominated classes that order existing is inevitable, ”as Ms. Crenshaw. the dish.

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