As with so much jargon, one can use these principles in a benign way or a destructive one.
One of the problems with discussing and debating CRT is that it’s a complicated set of teachings and beliefs about which people know very little and which probably vary at least somewhat according to whom is doing the trainings. The most pernicious aspects of CRT are often in the details of how the trainings and/or classes go.
(1) Centrality of Race and Racism in Society: CRT asserts that racism is a central component of American life.
(2) Challenge to Dominant Ideology: CRT challenges the claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy in society.
(3) Centrality of Experiential Knowledge: CRT asserts that the experiential knowledge of people of color is appropriate, legitimate, and an integral part to analyzing and understanding racial inequality.
(4) Interdisciplinary Perspective: CRT challenges ahistoricism and the unidisciplinary focuses of most analyses and insists that race and racism be placed in both a contemporary and historical context using interdisciplinary methods.
(5) Commitment to Social Justice: CRT is a framework that is committed to a social justice agenda to eliminate all forms of subordination of people.
As with so much jargon, one can use these principles in a benign way or a destructive one. From what I know about CRT in actual practice, they tend to be used destructively and somewhat differently than the words in those five principles would indicate.
For example, let’s take principle #1: “CRT asserts that racism is a central component of American life.” Actually, CRT asserts that racism is the central component of American life and pervades every aspect of it.
Or #2: “CRT challenges the claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy in society.” Actually, CRT challenges not just the claims of those things, but also challenges the idea that they are worthwhile goals. CRT considers meritocracy, for example, to be utterly bogus and inherently racist and would like to eliminate it as a goal or standard. CRT would like to substitute color awareness and eliminate colorblindness. Same for objectivity and neutrality, which are defined as white values and inherently racist.
Or #3: “CRT asserts that the experiential knowledge of people of color is appropriate, legitimate, and an integral part to analyzing and understanding racial inequality.” Is there anyone who disagrees with that? I think you’d find very few people who don’t think that the experiences of black people and other minorities are worthwhile to hear. However, CRT actually asserts that this “experiential knowledge” is far more important than statistics in the aggregate – in other words, that anecdotal evidence (which, among other things, can be a misperception even if a sincere one) is of far more importance than anything else, and it’s only the anecdotal evidence of “people of color” that matters.
Here’s #4: “CRT challenges ahistoricism and the unidisciplinary focuses of most analyses and insists that race and racism be placed in both a contemporary and historical context using interdisciplinary methods.” That’s so jargon-packed that I can’t quite figure out what it refers to (“interdisciplinary methods”?). But my sense is that it tries to change history by bringing in a perspective that makes history into whatever the CRT people want it to show – a la the 1619 Project, for example.
On #5: “CRT is a framework that is committed to a social justice agenda to eliminate all forms of subordination of people.” More jargon that obscures what’s happening. “Social justice agenda” is an example of what Thomas Sowell referred to in his book The Quest For Cosmic Justice (highly recommended by me) as an endeavor that is doomed to create more problems than it solves. As Sowell writes:
In its pursuit of justice for a segment of society, in disregard of the consequences for society as a whole, what is called “social justice” might more accurately be called anti-social justice, since what consistently gets ignored or dismissed are precisely the costs to society.
The costs of achieving justice matter. Another way of saying the same thing is that “justice at all costs” is not justice. What, after all, is an injustice but the arbitrary imposition of a cost—whether economic, psychic, or other—on an innocent person? And if correcting this injustice imposes another arbitrary cost on another innocent person, is that not also an injustice?
Those who are promoting CRT leave out all the costs and are mum about the anti-white racism inherent in those costs. However, word has been getting out recently, and more people (not enough, but more) are starting to understand what CRT is actually about in practice rather than in the descriptive language that attempts to obscure that practice.
[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]DONATE
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