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What is Critical Race Theory

What is Critical Race Theory

Before we can really dive into some of the nuance around the Black Math Genius program, I think it's important to make sure we are speaking a common language. Critical Race Theory is something you may have heard being bandied around by some in mainstream media. Recently the largest teachers union in the country announced that they would "Fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric" according to The Epoch Times.

The National Education Association (NEA), which represents more than 3 million employees in public education, on June 30 kicked off its 100th Representative Assembly. During the four-day online convention, the union adopted a measure that would commit at least $127,600 to advance its pro-CRT agenda.

Fox News has also been talking about Critical Race Theory in schools for at least the past few days too. On Fox and Friends they interviewed a few parents who are publicly pushing back against CRT being pushed in schools too.

But what is critical race theory? The host, Pete Hegseth points out that some people will make the point that "it's not critical race theory because we call it something else, whether it's anti-racism or any other name. Language seems to be really important in how they cloak this." Ok so anti-racism doesn't sound so bad right? No one wants to be called a racist, so many people will accept something called anti-racism. But what does it all mean.

To understand CRT, we need to take a step back and take a look at the philosophical concept of critical theory. According to ThoughtCo, "Critical theory is a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole. It differs from traditional theory, which focuses only on understanding or explaining society." So it's a theory that requires action if it is to meet it's goal of proffering change. Critical Theory is heavily dependent on Marxist philosophy. I know that whenever Marx is mentioned it is assumed that we are participating in hyperbole, but this is actually common knowledge. If we look at Standford's Philosophy website we don't have to read too far into the entry on Critical Theory before Marxism is mentioned.

“Critical Theory” in the narrow sense designates several generations of German philosophers and social theorists in the Western European Marxist tradition known as the Frankfurt School.

They go on to point out that other critical theories have been developed to apply critical theory in order to "explain and transform all the circumstances that enslave human beings". In Critical Theory, there is a heavy focus on how power and domination operate. Knowing this we can come back to Critical Race Theory. According to the online Encyclopedia Brittanica, "Critical race theory (CRT) was officially organized in 1989, at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory, though its intellectual origins go back much farther, to the 1960s and ’70s." Richard Delgado and Jen Stefancic formalized 6 general propositions that they thought most critical race theorists would agree on.

  1. Race is socially constructed, not biologically natural
  2. Racism in the United States is normal, not aberrational
  3. Legal advances and setbacks for people of color tend to serve the interests of dominant white groups
  4. Members of minority groups periodically undergo “differential racialization”
  5. No individual can be adequately identified by membership in a single group
  6. People of color are uniquely qualified to speak on behalf of other members of their group (or groups) regarding the forms and effects of racism

It seems CRT then suggests that every element of American life is steeped in racial prejudice. It offers as a solution, equity and inclusion. It enlists activists to push for social change. It's based on Marxist ideology which history has shown fails to provide a foundation for a stable society. CRT creates false divisions based on nothing more than visible characteristics. It considers race as a more important classification than economic class, family status, or any other grouping.

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Jamie Larson
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