In conservative circles in the United States, critical race theory (CRT), has become a new bogeyman. Right-wing groups use the term indiscriminately and inaccurately as a catchall buzzword to represent everything they oppose, even any discussion about systemic racism in schools.
Gary Pellar is a critical race theorist recently pointed out, CRT, an academic discipline that has been around for more than 40 years, “in the real world, The diverse work of a small group describes the failures of conventional civil rights approaches for understanding and transforming American racial strength. It’s a complex critique that wouldn’t fit easily into a K-12 curriculum.”
The current right-wing panic over CRT speaks volumes about the impact of Trumpism in the early 21st century U.S. The frenzy occurring over the idea that schoolteachers would dare to discuss racism — or be in any way inspired by an academic discipline that seeks to reveal how “colorblindness” is an inadequate goal because of the many ways in which racial power continues to be exercised in supposedly “colorblind” institutions — reveals the unmistakable hold that overt racism continues to have among large segments of the white U.S.
This video will help you understand what CRT is. Truthout CRT founder Richard Delgado (John J. Sparkman Chair of Law, University of Alabama) was contacted. Professor Delgado — the author of 30 books and one of the most-cited legal scholars on race and the law in the country — has become a target of numerous threats by racist and neo-fascist elements since the recent right-wing campaign against CRT began.
C.J. Polychroniou, Professor Delgado: I would love to hear from you about where CRT originated, and then what CRT is. Not.
Richard DelgadoCRT comes from critical legal studies. A little earlier, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory was founded. It is closely associated with the work of Max Horkheimer (Theodor W. Adorno), Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. Jean Stefancic’s book. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,These intellectual origins are described.
CRT is a self-aware and cohesive movement. It was started by a small group o scholars of color when they asked the Conference on Critical Legal Studies in Los Angeles to include a panel on racial issues at their 1986 conference. Early writing by Derrick Bell, Allen Freeman, myself and a few others had laid a foundation and demonstrated that a left-leaning exploration — like that of critical legal studies, that built exclusively on a foundation of class analysis but not race — could not fully explain modern-day currents. Other intellectual influences include Black liberationist writings, radical Chicano writers, and Marxism.
CRT is primarily a graduate area of law and legal study. It has since spread to many other disciplines, including American studies and education, philosophy, political science, and sociology. It has been a source for controversy that some K-12 teachers have begun to teach certain principles in high school classes.
Given that CRT has been around for several decades, why has it become such a controversial issue in today’s U.S.?
My personal view is that there are three main reasons. First, Trump supporters who were disappointed with the results went on the hunt for a boogeyman. Second, white supremacists worry about the impending demographic tipping point. They fear that white American society will be replaced by one of their own race. The third reason was the pandemic which saw many schoolchildren spending much of their time at home. Many parents were shocked when their children displayed attitudes and beliefs that were unacceptable in their social circles.
Some skeptics incorrectly claim that CRT rejects affirmative actions, while others are concerned that CRT is attacking the entire liberal order. How can you respond?
CRT doesn’t really reject affirmative action, although many critics think that it doesn’t go far enough. But it does question many liberal mainstays, such as “colorblindness,” or the notion that the “rule of law” is slowly but surely improving the fortunes of people of color.
Some states have proposed legislation to ban the teaching and learning of a fundamentally academic concept. Is CRT being taught to public school students in K-12?
I sure hope so. How many people have learned about the Mexican orphan train or the lies that led to Japanese internment and the Trail of Tears in school?
You have been the target of hate messages lately as a founder at CRT. Are you worried about these hate-messages turning into real violence against you or your wife?
Recent anonymous phone call offered to put a bullet into my brain. Another told me to go back to Mexico if I didn’t like it here. A third warned that my subcompact car might be involved in an accident with a truck from Tuscaloosa.
An administrator from the university said they could not do anything about the threats, unless they were specific and immediate, but referred my case to campus police.