Let’s Learn Critical Race Theory!
Critical race theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States that seeks to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race in the U.S. and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the United States.
CRT originated in the mid 1970s in the writings of several American legal scholars, including Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Cheryl Harris, Charles R. Lawrence III, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia J. Williams. It emerged as a movement by the 1980s, reworking theories of critical legal studies (CLS) with more focus on race. CRT is grounded in critical theory and draws from thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and W. E. B. DuBois, as well as the Black Power, Chicano, and radical feminist movements from the 1960s and 1970s.
While critical race theorists do not all share the same beliefs, the basic tenets of CRT include that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing and often subtle social and institutional dynamics rather than explicit and intentional prejudices on the part of individuals. CRT scholars also view race and white supremacy as an intersectional social construction which serves to uphold the interests of white people against those of marginalized communities at large. In the field of legal studies, CRT emphasizes that merely making laws colorblind on paper may not be enough to make the application of the laws colorblind; ostensibly colorblind laws can be applied in racially discriminatory ways. A key CRT concept is intersectionality, which emphasizes that race can intersect with other identities (such as gender and class) to produce complex combinations of power and disadvantage.