Critical Race Theory? Critical Race FactsRoundup
tags: racism, critical race theory
Donald Earl Collins is Visiting Professor of African American History at Loyola University, Maryland.
The past three years in the US and elsewhere have been a boon for conservative and fascist forces looking to whitewash public schools, public universities, and public libraries of anything not centring heterosexual white men in a purely positive light. Critical Race Theory has been their boogeyman and their proxy to attack any anti-racist efforts in the public sphere.
They have already managed to disrupt freedom of thought across educational institutions. In states like Florida, Tennessee and Oklahoma, professors without the protection of tenure (usually Black and Latinx) have been not-so-quietly cancelling courses that hint at Critical Race Theory.
At the University of Florida, Professor Christopher Busey felt compelled to file a grievance in 2021 against his university because administrators were censoring his work for using the words “critical” and “race” to describe the curriculum concentration he was hired to teach.
In Texas, there was even an attempt to ban the use of the word “slavery” in high school history lessons and replace it with “involuntary relocations” in 2022.
These attacks on Critical Race Theory as a way to get anti-racist ideas out of public institutions are themselves an example of what the theory is meant to interrogate and illuminate: the centrality and immovability of racism in the US and in Western civilisation.
In fact, they prove that Critical Race Theory is not really a theory – it is a hard reality. Like evolutionary biology, it has moved from hypothesis and theory to bedrock facts replicable through evidence and experiments.
Opponents’ attempts to ban Critical Race Theory may seem ridiculous. But they do understand that it interrogates and sidelines white and Western views of history, culture, politics and their dominance of the present and future.
I gently suggest those in the scholarly community move away from the term Critical Race Theory and towards Critical Race Studies or Anti-Racism Studies, precisely because Critical Race Theory was never hypothetical. This theory is laser-focused on reality – a messy, squishy, blood-soaked reality that goes beyond academic ideas and categories.
In my own lifetime, Critical Race Theory has moved from dusty law theory books to bestselling nonfiction allegories like Bell’s Faces at the Bottom of the Well and to memoirs and essay collections like Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir, and Crystal Marie Fleming’s How to Be Less Stupid About Race. All this is part of the effort to get people who sense what is wrong with the world to move beyond a white supremacist worldview, to begin to disrupt and dismantle for a better future.
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