Critical Race Theory

I first became aware of critical race theory when a commentator to a Psychology Today blog (cancelled after publication by a woke editorial staff) confidently demolished my arguments with the initials “CRT”. I was puzzled because to me, CRT stood for “cathode ray tube”, which seemed hardly relevant.

I soon discovered what CRT stands for:

CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color (Wikipedia).

CRT is apparently a third-stage derivative of Critical Theory, a mid-20th century movement derived from Marx and advocated by German writers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.  The second stage was Critical Legal Theory, a 1970s movement applying some of the same ideas to the study of law.

There is a huge CRT literature, much of written in impenetrable prose full of jargon and familiar words with new and often obscure meanings. But there is a way to evaluate this field and indeed any other that pretends to embrace all of human experience in a scientific way: What are its values? What are the facts with which it deals? And how good is the logic of its arguments? Boiled down to these fundamentals, CRT can be easily assessed.

Applied to standard social science — much of sociology, personality and social psychology — these questions can be simply answered: Values? Just finding the truth. Facts? Demographic data, results of experiments, randomized samples, etc. Logic? Well, just logic: “If A implies B, then produce A and see if you get B”, and so on.

CRT is different. Values?  Enhance the power of black and other “marginalized” minorities. Facts?  “Insistence on ”naming our own reality’”. A society’s “truth” is often just a way to exert power; truth has no independent existence.  Some “borrowing of insights from social science on race and racism”[1] is OK. But mainly, the emphasis is on ‘counter-story telling’ and personal experience. Logic? CRT undervalues logic; the term “racial logics” is sometimes used. Some versions of CRT even consider logic a feature of “whiteness,” as in White logic, White Methods[2].

In short, CRT is neither legitimate social science nor law in the Western tradition. It is a ideological politico-religious movement whose aim is not truth or understanding but power.  CRT is antithetical to science. It has no credibility in discussion of race.

[1] Richard Delgado (1990) When a story is just a story: Does voice really matter? Virginia Law Review Vol. 76, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 95-111.

[2] Tukufu Zuberi & Eduardo Bonilla-Silva eds. (2008)

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