Another Critical Race Theory thread

The last one was shut down, so I’m starting a new one. I came across this blog post which I believe provides a great and concise defense of CRT: Why are you afraid of critical race theory?

Some key quotes (from the white blogger):

“it explains so much, helps me understand my failings, and yet also provides a framework for comprehending my role in American racism that doesn’t condemn me”

“I have benefited from historical biases in education and employment, but that doesn’t mean I have to be ashamed of who I am — it means I have a responsibility to work to change the system, so that everyone has the same opportunities I did.”

This is how I see CRT, and I believe how most CRT advocates see it. This becomes contentious mainly, IMO, because professional liars like Tucker Carlson lie about it on TV and stir up anger over something that isn’t there.

I don’t really get this either, but a lot of white Americans seem to feel directly, personally attacked on hearing that systemic racism in the US is beneficial to white people.

I mean, I understand that nobody enjoys being on the receiving end of direct accusatory insults like “You are a racist and you are guilty of helping murder and oppress my people!” (Although IMHO that’s still way better than being on the receiving end of racist insults and threats like “You are a worthless dumb [racial epithet] [racial epithet] and me and my buddies are gonna destroy your [racial epithet] ass!”)

But nowhere in any CRT discussion have I personally seen any such direct accusatory insults directed at any specific white people, other than ones who were actively and deliberately being racist murderers and oppressors, of course.

None of my Trumpist relatives have hurled accusatory insults against me for being a (moderate) Democrat. So what? .

In the 1970’s I was in a college seminar on American racism, taught by a Black social work professor whose views were congruent with what became critical race theory. When I finished the class, I bought into it. But then I started reading some contrary articles by people that would eventually be called neo-conservatives, and have been on the conservative side, on this one issue, ever since.

This book came out 31 years ago and, even though the author probably votes Republican more often than I, still influences how I think about these matters:

Preferential Policies: An International Perspective

As to whether I benefited from preferential policies, I think very few people really do.

One of the worst preferential policies is college admissions preferences for alumni children. Just like with the other kind of affirmative action, it could lead someone to either doubt themselves or go too far in the other direction. While a perfect meritocracy is impossible to achieve, that is the direction I think we should try to go.

In other words, it’s an unfalsifiable theory - everything can and must be explained by CRT’s premises, no matter how much contortion is required. Theories that explain everything explain nothing because they cannot set an unambiguous perimeter to what they are claiming and stick to it as they are evaluated against evidence.

This is how I see CRT, and I believe how most CRT advocates see it. This becomes contentious mainly, IMO, because professional liars like Tucker Carlson lie about it on TV and stir up anger over something that isn’t there.

Tucker Carlson is an overt white supremacist who will happily tell you that he believes non-white people are genetically inferior. Do we really need something as radical and destructive as CRT to come to the apparently earth-shattering conclusion that Tucker Carlson is a racist? What is “systemic” about a rich man in a bowtie on Fox News going on TV and saying things like “immigrants are dirty?” This seems like a great example of racism being caused by individual racists and no systemic explanation being needed at all.

In other words, purple monkey pizza bicycle. Equally as accurate a description of that quote.

Carlson couldn’t possibly have the voice and influence he does have if there wasn’t some seriously ingrained bigotry (and tolerance for bigotry, which is essentially the same thing) in our media and culture. He’s not ranting on a street corner - he’s been given a huge media platform. And one of the two major parties is largely on board with his rhetoric. That’s not just individual racists - that can’t happen unless there are powerful systems and institutions that ease the way.

Those are indeed other words. I am curious why you’ve so much interest in attacking something you’ve so little interest in understanding.

Bernie Sanders has voice and influence. Kim Kardashian has voice and influence. Hillary Clinton has voice and influence. Are we to conclude that democratic socialism, Armenian reality TV stardom, and mainstream Democratic Party platitudes are “seriously ingrained” in the culture, or just that in a country of 330 million people, most of whom have copious leisure time and access to an infinite landscape of consumable media, almost any viewpoint’s loudest and most slickly produced embodiments can find an audience?

This is getting at the problem with CRT - its form of reasoning (“a racist flourishes, therefore society is racist and this is the key to understanding everything”) could logically be applied to a huge variety of phenomena (“a movie series about superheroes flourishes, therefore society is obsessed with superpowers and this is the key to understanding everything”), but aren’t because constantly circling back to “you can ONLY use race to explain anything and there are NO other factors at work in explaining any aspect of American society” is a crucial part of CRT itself. The rebuttal to “your reasoning is weak because it could be applied to literally anything” is nothing but an increasingly more virulent and shrill declaration that “you are not allowed to notice that!”

Once again you put something in quotes which isn’t a quote. While this makes your hobby of mocking CRT much easier, it makes it nearly impossible for you to demonstrate the most basic understanding of what CRT actually says.

Needless to say, your supposed quote is a risible misunderstanding of CRT.

This one is even more foolish. In other threads in response to similar nonsense I’ve quoted significant sections of Ibrim X. Kendi’s works where he talks about class, sex, and sexual preference, and how they intersect with race and other issues. If you believe there’s some other significant CRT theorist who says anything like your supposed quote, please name names and cite actual quotes.

Because you’re just ridiculously wrong. You might equally make fun of Republicans for their belief that “Money is white people dandruff so only white people should have it,” for all your alleged quote has to do with reality.

I don’t know what CRT is supposed to mean but when I hear people talk about it on TV it often sounds like it means that everything is about race, and that everything favors white people over black people, and that’s the way white people intended everything to be. At no time did I hear any mention of white people not being ashamed of the advantages they have in life like the person mentioned in the OP stated. So it is no surprise to me that so many people in this deeply racist country are antagonistic towards CRT no matter what it actually is.

Is there someplace I can find a neutral description of the main tenets of CRT? I can find some pieces on the Wikipedia page, such as:

And unlike some strands of academic and legal thought, critical race theory has an open and activist agenda, with an emphasis on storytelling and personal experience.

Critique of liberalism : CRT scholars question foundational liberal concepts such as Enlightenment rationality, legal equality, and Constitutional neutrality, and challenge the incrementalist, step-by-step approach of traditional civil-rights discourse

Taken at face value, these would seem to eliminate CRT out of the gate as the basis for any worldview I’d be interested in. I certainly reject any philosophy that rejects rationality, or one that elevates storytelling over evidence-based approaches.

But perhaps the Wiki page is not accurate, or gives the wrong sort of emphasis.

I can’t say I’m impressed with the PZ link, since it claims that racism is systemic but concludes that we have to tear into Rupert Murdoch and other rich assholes. That’s not very consistent; if it’s systemic then the focus should be on changing the system, not individual jerks.

Nobody said it explained everything; that’s a strawman.

What the right wing sources of information are doing with CRT is worse. Especially by showing that they do not have a clue about what a framework is.

A theoretical framework consists of concepts and, together with their definitions and reference to relevant scholarly literature, existing theory that is used for your particular study. The theoretical framework must demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the topic of your research paper and that relate to the broader areas of knowledge being considered.

The theoretical framework is most often not something readily found within the literature . You must review course readings and pertinent research studies for theories and analytic models that are relevant to the research problem you are investigating.

The big mistake or lie from Tucker Carson and other blogessors from the right wing out there is to present whatever and all research anyone could make with that framework as being bad or evil, even before checking the evidence or data acquired (BTW the research is valid or not depending on the quality of the work and the review).

Carson and the like are being even bigoted against research itself.

CRT sounds rather Kafka-Trap-ish.

If you agree that racism exists, then your agreement is proof that racism exists.

If you deny that racism exists, then your denial is proof that racism exists since it means you’re privileged and can’t see racism.

Of course that does depend on specific research that reaches that conclusion before it is done, do you have a cite?

Problem has been that many sources from the right start with that caricature and not a cite from research doing that very thing was presented in previous discussions.

Pretty much all forms of theory in social sciences are technically unfalsifiable (including the popular conservative/libertarian idol of economic “rational choice theory”, for example), because there’s no way of doing a controlled experiment on them. You can’t isolate a social phenomenon in order to determine exactly what other social phenomena it does or doesn’t interact with. That doesn’t mean that such theories aren’t useful or meaningful in their own right.

People who complain about social science theory being “unfalsifiable” are simply failing to understand fundamental features of both social science and physical science.

But this is the real world we’re talking about here. Who on earth imagines that it’s a credible position to simply deny that racism exists? Unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars for the last 500 years or so, you have ample evidence that racism exists.

Agreement that racism exists is no more proof of its existence than agreement that gravity exists proves that things fall.

Denial that racism exists doesn’t prove that racism exists.

Other than those two points, though, maybe you’re right.

Is it too much to hope that, in this thread, someone will actually say what Critical Race Theory is?

Mostly this thread reminds me that I’m so old I keep wondering why people are obsessing about cathode ray tubes.

However, the Britannica site seems to have as neutral (IMHO) a definition of CRT as I’ve been able to find and assess.

There’s more, providing historical background and more detail and nuance, but that’s the high-level (and inexact) description. It’s useful to read the rest of the article for context.

Two further points to add from my inexpert view:

Where CRT gets murky is around the issue of intent. Not all systemic racism involves individuals explicitly intending to be racist; a lot of it is just inherent in the way the various systems were created and have historically been operated. Sometimes the racism is so “baked in” to the system it looks like an unintended organic by-product [sic] rather than an intrinsic flaw.

Also, the use of “benefit” in the context of white people seems to raise the same dander as the phrase “white privilege”, when in reality both tend to mean “not actively disadvantaged or targeted for reason of race”. Being white doesn’t mean everything gets handed to you on a silver platter, but it does usually mean that you get served a much smaller portion of shit to eat than non-whites get.