By Alan J. Levine, Chronicles
The academic field of Critical Race Theory doesn’t understand the history of race.
Over the last 30 years, especially since the spring of 2020, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its accompanying obsessions with “whiteness” and “white privilege” has almost overwhelmed discussion about race and racism in Western society.
CRT “recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society,” declares a definition from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. A useful outline of the ideas involved is found in Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s textbook Critical Race Theory, which is generally considered authoritative and has the virtue uncommon among CRT exponents of being clearly written. Slightly compressed here, Delgado and Stefancic list CRT tenets as:
1. Racism is ordinary, not aberrational.
2. Racism serves an important purpose. It provides “psychic or material” benefits for the dominant group in society.
3. “Race and races are products of social thought and relations [and] categories that society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient.”
4. Intersectionality. The idea that everyone has potentially conflicting overlapping identities based on gender, class, and especially on race.
Additionally, CRT emphasizes that “voices of color,” or the views of nonwhites, have a special value. CRT rejects equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. Considering that Delgado and Stefancic are lawyers, this is a remarkable statement!