CRT Simplified, Day 7

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).

CRT Simplified, Day 6

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.

CRT Simplified, Day 5

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.

This is called “interest convergence”.

Simplified CRT, Day 4

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”.

Simplified CRT, Day 3

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.

Simplified CRT, Day 2

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”

Simplified CRT, Day 1

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.

UCLA: its the UC located in LA

California’s system of public higher education can be a bit tough for an outsider to understand. UC vs. CU, vs. IDK. It doesn’t help that there are 23 different CU schools and 10 different UC schools.  Most outside the system don’t even know it’s a system.

But they all know about UCLA.UCLAarches

The University if California at Los Angeles. I had a couple Bruins in my cohort in grad school and they were almost insufferable in their love for their alma mater. I’m a generally jaded guy so this sort of vigor intrigues me. It bears investigation. (did you see what I did there?)

In said investigation a couple things have drawn my attention, the newly formed Lowell Milken Institute and the not so newly formed, but unique nonetheless, Critical Race Studies program, also in the school of law. No, I am not a lawyer… but I have friends who are. I am also obviously not a comedian… nor am I a friends with any.570_UCLA_School_of_Law

The Lowell Milken Institute studies entrepreneurism and law. I have no real desire to work for myself but I love the idea of chasing one’s own dreams. I’m a fan of that. I’m a fan of the idea of lawyers chasing dreams rather than ambulances. I get the impression the folks over at UCLA agree with me on that.

Critical Race Studies (CRT) was birthed in the practice of law but most schools do not have dedicated programs. UCLA claims it has the only one. I like the idea of the program not because this is all I care about, though many may make that argument, but I like that such things are studied in a practical way. Law is at its core practical. You go argue a theoretical idea, that then becomes, or strikes down, a law, and then people’s lives become structured by it.

Things that touch our lives, especially things like race, should absolutely be studied not just pontificated or legislated independent of ideas and research. Which I guess is why the law school isn’t just one blanket program. But I’m only guessing.

But all this being said, most everyone knows as much about the CRT or Lowell Milken centers as they do the California CU/UC system.

That’s okay, just remember, UCLA. (say that part out loud).

Political Ideology and American Cement

The Tea Party drives me nuts. All this taking our country back stuff and championing the intentions of the founding fathers gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Now before we start drawing battle lines or calling names I should also put it out there that I’m equally perturbed by the occupy movement and those who are simply looking for something to gather together and shout about. All this gathering and shouting from all sides. Gives me a headache. Heartache too.occupygasmask

Let us talk a bit instead.

I love the United States of America. Really I do. Apple pie isn’t really my favorite but I love brownies, steaks from Texas, and think football was created by heavenly angels. Those angels were in no way associated with the SEC or the BCS, possibly Notre Dame, but more likely in direct ministration to Walter Camp. I feel an emotional connection to the Rocky Mountains, love the stars and stripes, and I truly believe God had a hand in the constitutional convention.

But I don’t believe that after that convention, God put his hands back in his pockets.

That idea is silly. That idea is as silly as the idea that George Washington had dinner with Abraham Lincoln where they discussed Ford model T’s. It is as silly as believing that Frederick Douglass was only 3/5ths human or that James Madison designed the Wright Flier. The world today is not what it was back then, for both better and worse, and that is why we still need some divine intervention.paradebuffalo

What that intervention should be, or in what way, in whose favor, or when, or on what subject, is surely open for debate and I in no way claim the corner on the answer market. But the debate needs to happen and I’m fine with it being a debate. A debate of ideas, solutions, and substance. Too often both of the parties or groups I noted at the beginning don’t debate, they hate. They demonize and dramatize. There is surely cause for dramatic actions, but much too often that isn’t what is called for. We don’t really call for action, we call names.

Let’s knock it off.

Let us pull our stakes out of the ideological ground and look for solutions to problems and form plans to do what is best.

Here is why I say we can’t do this while holding to strict ideologies. Here is why we can’t determine a political philosophy, set it in cement, and then move forward from there. Allow me to illustrate using race and American racism as an example.

Race is perhaps one of the most divisive and dangerous subjects to discuss. There are reasons for this. Within this debate there is an idea known as “institutional racism” or “structural racism”. Just the writing or mentioning of those words sends both the left and the right into a tizzy. The right will accuse those who say such terms are unpatriotic or America haters. The left will call those making those accusations racist. This is because we aren’t talking or debating, we are both, both sides, too busy name calling. It is a shame that there is so much yelling because it drowns out anyone explaining what those terms mean.

I will use cement as an example.

To build with cement a worker must first create a form or mold out of something else. Normally two by fours and other scrap wood is used to build the outline of whatever structure is being built. Once in place concrete can be mixed and poured into the mold and allowed to dry. Once the cement is dry, or set, the scrap wood can be taken away and the cement stands on its own.

And cement can stand solid for a long, long time.



If something is planted in that cement when it is wet, like a street corner basketball hoop perhaps, once the cement dries you could quite accurately say that object is set in stone.

If we see the founding of the United States and its constitution, or maybe our political ideologies as a concrete object, we have some problems to contend with.

You see when the framers of the constitution, the construction workers of the time, were mixing the concrete they were using some suspicious materials. There was some freedom and liberty mixed in there, I love those things. There was also some capitalism and private property stirring in the pot, also good stuff. But then there was this integral ingredient of slavery, racism, and the money it produced.

Now make no mistake, racism and slavery were definitely in the mix. Key ingredients. A good portion of those at the convention would have never been able to spare the time, or the thoughts, to do the work they did had they been actually laboring on the farms they owned. It is where most of the American money of the time was produced. It was all mixed in. And the forms, or structure around the American wet cement, stayed in place for at least a hundred years. By the time those supports were stripped away, that cement was good and set. It was set so hard that a civil war couldn’t bust it up. Like a rock.



Then what to do with all that scrap wood?

That is the problem with forms built of wood, they aren’t part of the mix. When slavery ended, and then again at the time of the civil rights act, there were all these people, black people, who had been used for so long to prop up the structure of American society, but not mixed into the original cement. What were they to do?

What was, and to this day is, America to do?

If America and its ideologies are set in stone there is no hope. At least not for “them”.

And that right there is really the rub. That right there is why all the political bomb throwing and name calling prevent any solutions. At least no solutions for those not in the original mix.


You see once cement is set it no longer has to expend any energy, or try, to stay standing. It is just there, a solid mass that exists without having to try. White America today doesn’t need to be racist, or hate black people, or even think about black people at all. They, or we, the white people, were stirred in when the cement was wet. Now, the black people are on the outside and no one even has to try to keep them there. That work has already been done.

Now this is not to say there isn’t anything that can be done. Or even mean that nothing has been done. But what this surely means is that for any sort of integration or incorporation to happen for black people, something must be done.

It won’t just happen on its own.

What should be done and by whom, and how, is open for debate. So let’s discuss and debate. But for this debate to get anywhere, or rather for solutions to appear, I really hope that Americans aren’t set in stone. I hope this whole analogy is wrong and moot. Or maybe the cement is still wet? I hope this because if it isn’t wet, and it is cement, then the only hope is to get out a jackhammer. If this whole America thing was concrete at its founding then it all has to be torn up and begun again.

I don’t want to do that.

There is a lot of good stuff in the mix. Great stuff. Godly stuff. I love this place.

It can be better.

But it will only get that way if we work at it and if we really look for ways to solve our problems. It is not yesterday and using yesterday’s tools does not always work. Thomas Jefferson, as wise and inspired as he was, did not concoct a plan for what to do about air traffic control. Online piracy was not a problem then.

I think Thomas Jefferson was wise and inspired and may very well have some bits of the answers in the work he did. The problem is, that if the work he did was mixed in cement, we can’t get at it today.CIMG0971