That’s pretty much it. There is of course a full library of Critical Race Theory scholarship that goes much deeper, but what I have shared the past few days is enough to give anyone a working idea of CRT’s foundation and elements.
So let me add, here at the end, what Critical Race Theory is NOT.
It is not about hating America. Or hating White people.
It is not about blame.
There may be some who, thanks to these tenets, learn something about this country and then feel some animosity, anger, or possibly hatred- but those things are not principles of the Critical Race Theory framework. Those things (animosity, anger, hate) can grow from any number of sources, including from learning truth. This does not mean we should avoid truth to alleviate anger.
Maybe some would prefer that tactic? Willful ignorance?
Either way, angry or otherwise, a patient being diagnosed with cancer should not blame their illness on the diagnosing doctor.
CRT is very much about diagnosis and understanding what is, or has been, happening and why.I have not read a single article or study by any Critical Race Theory expert, who upon making a find, prescribed hate as a solution.
Microagressions are small, often unintentional slights, not even necessarily insults, but little pin pricks based on a marginalized characteristic (such as race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality).
Any one instance of such would be no big deal, but the thing is, they add up.
It’s like when my older brother used to hold me down and begin tapping me on the forehead till I could name ten fruits. It wasn’t painful but man it was annoying and made it super hard to do something that was normally simple- naming ten varieties of fruit.Microagressions are just like that, except instead of my big brother its American society and instead of naming ten fruits, Black people are just trying to live life.
The concept of microagressions fit solidly within CRT in that they become very evident and pervasive (endemic) when we listen to non-white people (counter-storytelling).
American law is based on property rights, not human rights.
If American law had been based on human rights rather than property rights, slavery and the confiscation of Native American land would have never been legal. But both happened- with official sanction.This prioritization of property over people was evidenced in proposals to emancipate slaves via slave owner compensation- rather than prosecution for a violation of human rights.
The caveat is that White people have in fact been protected under the law in a similar way to property, making Whiteness itself a form of property. This would help explain why stand your ground law tends to favor White shooters over Black victims, but not vice-versa, or, why there may be more systematic reaction to property damage from a Black Lives Matter protest than there is systematic reaction to the killing of an unarmed Black person.
CRT investigates how Whiteness acts as a form of property.
All people generally think of themselves, and their own needs, first.
This is often an assumption when we consider the workings of both capitalism and democracy. CRT theorists have found that programs, laws, or movements directed at combating the effects of racism, usually only have staying power, or in some way “work”, if whatever is being asked also, in some way, benefits White people.
Race is never the only thing going on in a Black person’s life.
Or anyone’s life for that matter. People “experience” race at the same time they experience sex, gender, wealth, poverty, nationality, or any other aspect of human socialization. All of those things are ever-present and must be known and addressed.
So, if we pass a law making it illegal to segregate schools by race, and then all the White people move away, we need to know that wealth plays a role, gender plays a role, sexual orientation, and many other things, all play a role.
Considering how multiple factors happen all at once, is called “intersectionality”.
We must listen to how the non-white people say stuff happens or works.
If we want to know about the ocean, we cannot only pay attention to the water, we also need to know about fish. If the water claims it is the perfect temperature, but all the fish are freezing- there is a problem.
When it comes to racism in America, we should listen to what the non-White people are saying. There are plenty of studies, plenty of lawsuits, and lots of stories about race and racism coming from White America. CRT turns this around and centers the stories and viewpoints coming from non-White Americans.
This is called counter story-telling.
So, if we pass a law making it illegal to segregate schools by race, and then all the White people move away from the school, CRT does not begin by asking the White people what is happening but rather listens to the Black students left at the school.
Racism is not an isolated incident, but rather, an interwoven part of everyday American life.
This is rooted in the reality that from the founding, and through the formative years of American history, being white was a requirement for American citizenship and all of its associated rights or privileges. That was racist. The consequence of this, is that society developed in a way that naturally operates to the advantage of White people, independent of anyone’s intentions.
For example, you can pass a law that makes it illegal to segregate schools by race, but that doesn’t really matter if all the White people choose to move away from the schools with Black students. It doesn’t really matter why those people are moving away, the effect remains the same.
This is what it means when CRT theorists say “racism is endemic”
Civil rights laws were good, but sorta didn’t fix the problem.
Critical Race Theory began as a critique and rethinking of our legal system with the awareness that civil rights legislation or legal cases, even when “won” haven’t necessarily helped Black people. For example, Brown v Board of Education made segregation in public schools illegal, yet all these years later, more Black students experience a segregated education than was happening before.