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Wed Jul 21, 2021, 10:37 PM

A Deeper Look at Critical Race Theory - Galston

In last week’s column about critical race theory, I said that I had barely scratched the surface of this complex movement. To dig deeper, I turned to a collection of essays by the movement’s founders and early adherents—“Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement”—published in 1996. Here is what I found in the volume and in an article by Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the book’s editors and one of the movement’s most insightful thinkers.

• Critical race theory denies the possibility of objectivity. As the volume’s editors state in their illuminating introduction, “Scholarship about race in America can never be written from a distance of detachment or with an attitude of objectivity. . . . Scholarship—the formal production, identification, and organization of what will be called ‘knowledge’—is inevitably political.” And politics is about power—scholarship can be a powerful weapon in that struggle.

(snip)

• The founders of Critical Race Theory identified with Black Power movements much more than with those who were working for integration. This form of race-consciousness can’t be reduced to class-consciousness. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who understood the fight for equality as a class struggle, learned this lesson the hard way during his quest for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

(snip)

• The theory offers a fundamental critique of the civil-rights movement and the liberal ideology it reflects. Such theorists argue that the civil-rights movement scored some “symbolic” gains for black Americans but left their material conditions mostly unchanged, in part because civil-rights law is inherently limited. Such laws treat “discrimination” as isolated acts by specific individuals or businesses, as exceptions to prevailing norms and practices, not as pervasive and “systemic.” Civil-rights law can mitigate the consequences of illegal and unjust acts, but it can do nothing to redress the continuing impact of past oppression.

• Critical race theory rejects the principle of equality of opportunity. Its adherents insist that equality of opportunity is a myth, not a reality, in today’s America, and that those who pursue it are misguided. The real goal is equality of results, measured by black share of income, wealth and social standing. Critical race theorists reject the idea that sought-after goods should be distributed through systems that evaluate and reward “merit.”

More..

https://www.wsj.com/articles/kimberle-crenshaw-critical-race-theory-woke-marxism-education-11626793272 (subscription)

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William Galston is the liberal columnist of the WSJ and is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

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