What CRT Actually Means: a Public Service Announcement

You have doubtless been reading in the news a lot about Critical Race Theory, or CRT. It’s the latest “enemy within” for Republican agitprop (propaganda used to agitate, or work up, the base). But as usual, these Republican “leaders” and the parents whom they’ve whipped up to storm school board meetings don’t have the slightest clue what they are talking about, so I’ll try to clear this up.

CRT is a theory put forward by legal scholars such as Derrick Bell that the body of law emerging from the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka has been insufficient to make a dent in racism because racism is baked into our systems–that is, because it is systemic.

That there is racism built into our systems is clearly so. When black people go to get a home mortgage in the U.S., they pay higher interest rates and are more likely to be turned down than are whites with the same credit scores and histories. When black people violate a law, they are far more likely to be arrested for it than white people are. When they go to trial, they get longer prison terms. They are paid less for the same jobs. They are more likely to be told by doctors that there is nothing wrong with them when there is. They are more likely to live in places where there is poor food. Their schools have less money for operations. And so on. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Racism is baked into our systems. But that’s not all that CRT means. It’s not simply “There is systemic racism in the United States,” though that is part of it–the obvious part. Rather, it’s a critique of the liberal legal response to racism as insufficient because it has not dealt with the underlying, systemic problems. That’s the less obvious part. CRT was espoused as a critique of Brown, busing, and other remedies and as an explanation for their failure to eliminate racism.

There, now you know, if you didn’t before, what this really means. It doesn’t mean, as idiot extremist Republicans (sorry about the redundancy) think it does, that “all whites are racist” or that “kids should be taught to hate white people” or “to hate themselves.” When you hear politicians say those things about CRT, remember that they have no clue what they are talking about, any more than if they were saying that injecting disinfectant will cure Covid.


About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
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7 Responses to What CRT Actually Means: a Public Service Announcement

  1. Stephen Ronan says:

    Thanks… bookmarked as the best, concise explanation I have yet seen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Darhlene says:

    Everyone should continue writing about CRT so all those “poor white kids” will have ample information on the Internet for their research. BTW, good article. https://darhlene.com/2021/06/30/critical-race-theory/

    Liked by 2 people

  3. manicmikey says:

    Critical Race Theory?
    Also known as “shaking down whitey” for more tax money to spend on “people of color.”


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