The negative chatter about CRT( critical race theory) needs to stop. It is not a body of scholarship that is on its way to the local public school or college for that matter. Unfortunately, many of the loudest proclaimers of its dangers have no idea what actually constitutes CRT, nor do they know how it originated. This is verified by the manner in which they speak about it as if every elementary and high school student is about to be inundated
with this weird thing called CRT.
There is a need to take a deep breath and pay a bit of attention to what CRT is and how it came into being in the first place. A group of legal scholars, who included the late Derrick Bell at Harvard Law, Kimberle Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, Richard Delgado, Patricia Williams, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Tara Yosso and others led the way when they turned their attention to refuting the idea that the law was objective and apolitical as they worked to find the best ways to approach racial justice work. When this search began it was called Critical Legal Studies. They found a great fallacy in the argument that the law is objective, neutral, principled and not influenced by social and political considerations. They believed that the law could be complicit in helping to maintain an unjust social order by reproducing racial inequality.
Their inquiry led them forward to the formulation of CRT which is composed of, “a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil rights scholars and activists in the United States that seek 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.” It has to be quite clear that this body of legal scholarship is not about to replace the curriculum of any local public or private K-12 school or college in any manner, and no one who is talking about it believes that it will unless they do not understand what it is.
The following are some of the foundational questions that were raised regarding the law as the framers pursued this course of study: How does the law construct race? How has the law protected racism and upheld racial hierarchies? How does the law reproduce racial inequality? And they went on to ask: How can the law be used to dismantle race, racism and racial inequality? While they asked this question as they sought remedies to racist practices across America, the framers of CRT believed that it was very difficult for the law to serve as the major dismantling force of racism because it was often used to reinforce it.
Major examples of this type of complicity between the law and racism are found in such instances as the failure of the Supreme Court to outline a specific remedy to end segregated education in the Brown vs. Board Education Case, or assuming that the Fourteenth Amendment alone could promote racial equality for Black people when this remedy was a threat to the superior social status of White people. Though the law can be used to support racial equality, it is imperative that there is careful crafting of such laws and the political will to enforce them once they are in place.
The major point of this discussion is to put CRT back where it belongs in the arena of legal scholarship. It is a model that can be borrowed by other disciplines but in those cases it is used for the pursuit of graduate level scholarship. No young persons who are in grades K-12 will have anyone use these words while teaching them unless they are misusing them. However, teaching them about racism and its impact upon all of us is a completely different issue. Racism and its impact fuel the reason for the disinformation campaign about CRT. The dust storm that this effort is fostering hopes to remove attention from the real issue of racial injustice and inequality, which is hurting us all. Please, stand against this behavior and help to imagine a new world where the truth is more important than fiction.