Critical Race Theory — What's the Argument over CRT?

Contrary to what has been put out there about critical race theory (CRT), the concept is all about exploring the role that race and racism have played in various aspects of society. The term was coined by a prominent legal scholar, Kimberle Crenshaw, over three decades ago. CRT has transformed from an obscure legal ideology into a vital aspect of analyzing the part race plays in society.


There are many key principles of CRT that are important in everyday life, exploring things like equality in education and how much of a role anti-Black racism plays in holding back Black communities from excelling the way they should. It’s time to have a tough conversation about CRT and why the arguments against it don’t hold much weight.


What Is Critical Race Theory?

Critical race theory is both a legal and cultural concept.

Critical race theory is a concept that recognizes the existence of systematic racism and how much it grips every aspect of society, from education to the law. It’s a theory that tackles white supremacy, exploring the many facets of anti-Black racism that exist and not disconnecting the past when talking about current race issues.


Initially, critical race theory was used to mainly explore the issue of inequality in education. Since then, CRT has evolved, with scholars using it to critique educational research. Though Crenshaw is credited with coining the term, work on critical race theory dates back to the 1970s when a pair of scholars, Alan Freeman and Derrick Bell, were displeased with the sluggishness of racial reform, analyzing how the law contributes to repeated racial inequality.


What Are the 5 Components of Critical Race Theory?


Even though critical race theory as a concept is constantly evolving and has a greater influence on society, five key components make it relevant in today’s world, as outlined by American anthropologist Khiara Bridges.


CRT Is Socially Significant


An essential aspect of CRT is that race is not accurate from a biological perspective. It’s a socially significant and constructed concept. Scientific initiatives like the Human Genome Project have denounced the belief that biological race differences exist. Some scholars like Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado have outlined that race was conceptualized from social thought and biases rather than definitive biological evidence.


Racism Is Structural


Another key principle states that anti-Black racism is normalized within society and is systemic. Structures like the legal system consistently show a lack of racial equality. As a result, there is no such thing as an aberration regarding anti-Black racism, meaning that instances of racism don’t happen by accident. Simply put, racism is structural, not coincidental.


Rejecting Popular Notions


CRT also denounces that racism comes down to just a few bad apples out of the bunch. Racism is an underlying issue within the law and public policy, using aspects of the law to silence people from Black communities.


No Such Thing as Color Blindness


Systemic racism is the primary source for consistent instances of racial inequality rather than any meritocracy or colour blindness taking place. It has a harmful impact on people of color and is particularly noticeable when exploring the racial realities of police brutality in the United States.


Embracing Experiences


CRT also emphasizes the acceptance of lived experiences involving Black people and people of colour. It values experiences preserved through storytelling and other means, prioritizing research that includes oral histories and valuable data from people of colour.


Why Is Critical Race Theory under Attack?


CRT was created to counter systematic racism. Opponents see it as divisive.

Critical race theory has put dignitaries and others in uncomfortable positions, leading states to ban teaching CRT in schools. State legislatures in Idaho and Tennessee are among the groups that believe CRT should not be included in educational curriculums. The argument from opponents of CRT is that it perpetuates racism against white people, classifying all Black people as being oppressed and classifying all white people as oppressors.


Contrary to that belief, critical race theory does not paint white people with such a broad brush. In fact, it’s natural for all of us to have some form of bias. White people as a whole aren’t being blamed to the racism that exists today and pervades institutions. But, being a part of the group that benefits from these privileges, you have a significant responsibility to do something about it.


Simply put, CRT is the basis of many diversity and inclusion efforts, like inclusion in education. Additionally, critical race theory is by no means anti-law, as its opponents have insinuated. In fact, many CRT scholars don’t believe that destabilizing law will correct all social justice issues. Scholars have seen how well the law protected civil rights and see how the law can be a useful tool to promote racial equality in many respects.


The only way concepts like CRT will be truly accepted is if people are willing to have open and honest conversations about race from a systemic point of view, conceiving ways and means to eradicate structural racism. Let’s schedule a Tough Convo today and help your organization become a strong voice for change.