Overview Of The Theory
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, was developed in the 1980’s on the heels of the Critical Legal Studies movement that started in the 1970’s. A number of prominent law professors, most notably Derrick Bell, began to piece together the movement in the halls of America’s elite law schools. The main thrust of CRT is that white privilege and white supremacy is so thoroughly ingrained into the fabric of society, that the traditional approaches to combat racism against blacks are not enough. CRT scholars regularly attack all sorts of institutions, legal decisions and approaches that have generally been deemed not to benefit minorities.
It has to be said that there many good points are made in some of the articles, but the Marxist and feminist framework is damning.
CRT has a few main points that need to be laid out to understand what CRT is about. First, is the use of the narrative/storytelling. One of most striking parts of CRT is the emphasis on the personal narrative. Many CRT articles are framed completely through the experiences of the writer. It was referred to me as “naming one’s own reality.” That phrase stuck with me, as often racism is assumed on the part of the person who invokes CRT doctrine. For example, one young woman in my class was discussing a situation in which she was turned down for an internship at the school. She said it was because she was black. I pointed out that she could be right, but the conclusion you reached isn’t necessarily true. I was smacked down and told to stop dictating women’s experiences to them.
Another striking feature of CRT is its emphasis on intersectionality, the fact different people have different life experiences – like the difference between a gay black dude born in Harlem compared to a white woman born into wealth in Boston. It is one the most mindbogglingly obvious concepts in the world, but the creation of the concept has been credited to Kimberlie Crenshaw. This is where feminist, homosexual and class critiques come in. There is no conservative or libertarian thought in this school.
The final point I would like to highlight is opposition to essentialism. Essentialism means reducing one group of people to definable characteristics shared by all members of the group. Race, sex , class and sexual orientation are generally listed. One of those categories is not like the other – sex. CRT does not entertain any notion that men and women are biologically different. Well, they may assume some differences, but one isn’t going to get away with an outright “essentialist” argument that men and women are fundamentally different.
Let’s examine one article – Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory by Angela Harris (pdf).
The article is fairly predictable. In her critique of her fellow radical feminists, she emphasizes that they aren’t racist. She takes them to task for ignoring black voices, knowing how incredibly judgmental feminists are. Her point that white feminists have generally ignored black voices and assumed that their experiences are the same for all women is on point – but her article comes off the rails after that.
She makes an exhortation for women to recognize their common enemy – men. She projects a bunch of personal issues onto other people – including a bizarre part where she states that women can’t gain real identities until male domination is eliminated. Are some feminists waiting to sort out their personal issues until the dreaded patriarchy is destroyed? She makes a point that feminists need to move beyond superficial changes.
CRT Is Narcissistic
I agree with her that feminism, in some ways – and CRT – isn’t about real change. It’s about moral judgmentalism and inaction. I can’t even count how many times I read the phrases “white power structures” or “female subjugation,” or “privilege.” Instead of trying to empower themselves via change, the movement simply wants to spin their wheels in the mud and judge everybody else. It is a form of therapy. At this point, I want to highlight what I am talking about how and why people come to and use CRT. They don’t want to take charge of their life; they want to blame everybody else.
I see this reflected in anti-game blogs. Instead of hitting the gym or learning game, these fools blame all their problems on everybody else and get insanely jealous when they see former equals going out and getting laid on the regular. I believe part of the psychology is that they want everybody at their level – frustrated, angry and impotent – so through their bleatings that game isn’t real, they are hoping that some men that otherwise would have bettered himself stays a simp. The less men stepping up and making their lives better, the less jealous they are.
This is the fundamental problem with CRT. I came to the class naively thinking were going to have some real discussions about race in America, but I was dead wrong. It was clear all the women in the class, save one, had some serious issues – most of them related to men. They didn’t want to hear the truth. They wanted to hear some honeyed words about how it’s racism’s fault they have a bitchy personality or it’s patriarchy’s fault ugly women don’t get alphas. I was pissed off being told repeatedly that I “just kinda have to believe this.”
CRT isn’t about helping black people or minorities. It was and is about therapy. The women came to class to blame all their problems on race and sex. They didn’t have the drive to better themselves. They did what probably pisses off many psychologists – the whole idea that, yeah, racism does exist and hurts you but you are using racism as a way to self-aggrandize and tell yourself you are better than you really are. It really is depraved when you think about it – the black women need black people to be hurt by racism so they can prop up their flagging egos by using racism to explain away their failures to live up their out-sized visions of themselves. Didn’t get the job in Boston – most likely because of your grades in school and because you weren’t friendly in the interview – you can always blame racism!
As for the white women, they just doubled-down on “female oppression” so they didn’t have to check their privilege. They blamed all their problems in life on patriarchy and sexism.
In the end, the articles I read did often make some good observations and, sometimes, some good analysis. However, the framework was downright awful. It was too narcissistic, as evidenced by the concept of the personal narrative and inability to understand the world around them. It was like some perpetual therapy session – they pretend to want to change themselves or the world, but just seek to blame others so they can avoid dealing with reality.
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