They begin with the assumption of racism and look to find it. They say everyone who doesn’t do this is complicit in the problem, including just for disagreeing with Critical Race Theory. And they reject the fundamental liberal, reasonable, legal, and scientific principles upon which liberal societies operate. That is, even though they touch on real truths about race and racism in our world, they are radicals in every sense of the word, and there’s almost no reason to believe they describe reality as it is and much reason to believe they get the issue almost exactly backwards.
I’ve been asked a million times for a short introduction to Critical Race Theory that hits the high points in a quick, straightforward way. Most people will have heard of Critical Race Theory by now, but in case you haven’t, it’s a particular way of thinking about race and racism that developed first at Harvard Law School from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Its stated objective is to question whether the Civil Rights Movement and Civil Rights Acts legislation improved the racial situation in Western nations, especially the United States. Its true objective is to re-organize the social, cultural, and legal playing field in a way that claims to reverse “historical injustices” around the issue of race, allegedly without reproducing them.
To keep this short and simple, I’ll provide you with two quotes from the book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (third edition) by Critical Race Theorists Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. These quotes summarize everything that Critical Race Theory is really about in its own words.
First, Critical Race Theory views race and racism this way: race is a political construction that was invented by white people to give themselves power while excluding all other races from it, and racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society, present in all interactions, institutions, and phenomena, and effectively permanent in society (short of a full sociocultural revolution that puts them in charge). That is, Critical Race Theory assumes that racism is present in everything under a doctrine known as “systemic racism.” Quoting from Delgado and Stefancic,
What do critical race theorists believe? Probably not every member would subscribe to every tenet set out in this book, but many would agree on the following propositions. First, that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—“normal science,” the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country. Second, most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material. The first feature, ordinariness, means that racism is difficult to cure or address. … The second feature, sometimes called “interest convergence” or material determinism, adds a further dimension. Because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class people (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.