Not merely the product of individual bias

If it has the word “critical” in it, it must be dangerous, is that the idea?

Across the United States, state legislatures are showing a newfound interest in — and aversion to — critical race theory, or CRT, an academic movement that systematically considers how even seemingly neutral laws, regulations and social norms can have different impacts on particular racial and ethnic groups. It examines how legislatures at times target racial minorities for adverse treatment — such as recent voter suppression laws in Arizona, Georgia and Iowa — and, at other times, are simply indifferent to how new laws will impact those outside the majority.

And this should be stamped out because…why, exactly?

CRT originated in U.S. law schools in the 1970s and remains well established and widely accepted there. But in recent weeks, some Republican-dominated state legislatures have adopted laws that ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. Some, such as the laws in Idaho and Oklahoma, even restrict the use of CRT in public colleges and universities. Other states, including Georgia and Utah, are actively considering similar legislation or administrative action. A bill has even been introduced in the U.S. House (where the Democratic majority presumably will reject it).

I can easily believe there’s some work that Identifies As CRT that is shite, but that doesn’t mean all CRT is shite, and it seems most unlikely that it is. Given US history it seems all but impossible that it is.

Education Week has an explainer on what CRT is:

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

So the opponents think…what? That racism is not embedded in legal systems and policies [in the US]? How could that possibly be in a country built on slavery? Race-based slavery?

I suppose that is what they think. That was then, this is now, racism is ancient history. We had the Civil War, and Martin Luther King, and…and Martin Luther King and what more do these people want? Meanwhile the prison stats sit on a shelf somewhere.

Fundamentally, though, the disagreement springs from different conceptions of racism. CRT thus puts an emphasis on outcomes, not merely on individuals’ own beliefs, and it calls on these outcomes to be examined and rectified. Among lawyers, teachers, policymakers, and the general public, there are many disagreements about how precisely to do those things, and to what extent race should be explicitly appealed to or referred to in the process.

In other words the people angry about CRT are focusing on “I am not a racist!!!” when the point is that it’s not about you, it’s about what racism has embedded in our laws and practices so deeply that we don’t even see it.

22 Responses to “Not merely the product of individual bias”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting