Crossroads, Directions and A New Critical Race Theory

Crossroads, Directions and A New Critical Race Theory

Francisco Valdes
Jerome McCristal Culp
Angela P. Harris
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    Crossroads, Directions and A New Critical Race Theory
    Book Description:

    Its opponents call it part of "the lunatic fringe," a justification for "black separateness," "the most embarrassing trend in American publishing." "It" is Critical Race Theory.But what is Critical Race Theory? How did it develop? Where does it stand now? Where should it go in the future? In this volume, thirty-one CRT scholars present their views on the ideas and methods of CRT, its role in academia and in the culture at large, and its past, present, and future.Critical race theorists assert that both the procedures and the substance of American law are structured to maintain white privilege. The neutrality and objectivity of the law are not just unattainable ideals; they are harmful actions that obscure the law's role in protecting white supremacy. This notion-so obvious to some, so unthinkable to others-has stimulated and divided legal thinking in this country and, increasingly, abroad.The essays inCrossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory-all original-address this notion in a variety of helpful and exciting ways. They use analysis, personal experience, historical narrative, and many other techniques to explain the importance of looking critically at how race permeates our national consciousness.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0779-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword: Who Are We? And Why Are We Here? Doing Critical Race Theory in Hard Times
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
    Charles R. Lawrence III

    When Harlan Dalton asked me to give the opening remarks at this conference, and I asked him what I should talk about, he said something like, “Just be your warm, wise self.” My first reaction to Harlon’s typically playful and generous response was ambivalence. It was the same feeling I had experienced when I first received the announcement of the conference in the mail. The flyer described the meeting as a tenth birthday celebration for Critical Race Theory and named my Stanford article on unconscious racism¹ among the genre’s foundational canon. I felt honored by this generous acknowledgment of my...

  4. INTRODUCTION: Battles Waged, Won, and Lost: Critical Race Theory at the Turn of the Millennium
    (pp. 1-6)
    Francisco Valdes, Jerome McCristal Culp and Angela P. Harris

    The emergence of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the legal academy of the United States during the late 1980s has had a galvanizing effect not only within the narrow world of legal academia, but also on the public discourse on race more generally. In part, this impact has been due to what CRT has to say. CRT, like critical legal studies (CLS) before it, rejects the basic premises of American legal liberalism.

    Critical race theorists have not placed their faith in neutral procedures and the substantive doctrines of formal equality; rather, critical race theorists assert that both the procedures and...

  5. Part I: Histories
    • CHAPTER ONE The First Decade: Critical Reflections, or “A Foot in the Closing Door”
      (pp. 9-31)
      Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw

      In the introduction toCritical Race Theory: The Key Documents That Formed the Movement,¹ Gary Peller, Neil Gotanda, Kendall Thomas, and I framed the development of Critical Race Theory as a dialectical engagement with liberal race discourse and with critical legal studies. We described this engagement as constituting a distinctively progressive intervention within liberal race theory and a race intervention within CLS. As neat as this sounds, it took almost a decade for these interventions to be fleshed out fully. Reflecting on the past ten years of CRT, this essay explores the course of these interventions from the personal perspective...

    • CHAPTER TWO Historicizing Critical Race Theory’s Cutting Edge: Key Movements That Performed the Theory
      (pp. 32-70)
      Sumi Cho and Robert Westley

      In this chapter, we attempt to retrieve an obscured history that we believe was central to the development of Critical Race Theory—the history of student activism for diversity in higher education from the 1960s to the 1990s. To do so, we focus on one longitudinal case study in particular, that of the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Coalition for a Diversified Faculty (BCDF). This local movement, which became national in 1989 with the BCDF-coordinated Nationwide Law Student Strike for Diversity, embodied and practiced many of the insights theorized by CRT; it was a movement that performed the theory....

    • CHAPTER THREE Keeping It Real: On Anti-“Essentialism”
      (pp. 71-84)
      Catharine A. MacKinnon

      Theorizing this moment¹ could begin with tracing the contributions of critical race feminism to feminism historically. Considering just African American women would begin with their resistance to slavery, proceed through their formative participation in and critique of the Black Civil Rights Movement, encompass groundbreaking initiatives such as the National Black Feminist Organization and Combahee River Collective, and observe their backbone role in the contemporary women’s movement today. In these and many other ways, women of color—African American women, Latinas, Asian American women, Native women—have created feminism in their own image, a feminism of the real world largely obscured...

  6. Part II: Crossroads
    • Section A: Race
      • Critiquing “Race” and Its Uses: Critical Race Theory’s Uncompleted Argument
        (pp. 87-96)
        Robert S. Chang

        In “The Uncompleted Argument,” Anthony Appiah tells us that W.E.B. Du Bois “came gradually, though never completely, to assimilate the unbiological nature of the races.”¹ Du Bois, who “thought longer, more engagedly, and more publicly about race than any other social theorist of our century,”² wrote about race during a period characterized by a popular scientific racism, which attributed intellectual, cultural, and moral capacities on the basis of biological race. He argued against this notion of biological determinism or biological destiny that was used to justify the unequal treatment or unequal position of Blacks. But rather than deny the salience...

      • CHAPTER FOUR The Poetics of Colorlined Space
        (pp. 97-158)
        Anthony Paul Farley

        The spectacle known as the Civil Rights Movement, like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s green light, remains an object of wonder. They “had come a long way” to reach the Supreme Court of the United States of America. They had come a long way to argue the great cases, such asBrown v. Board of Education of Topeka(1954) andLoving v. Virginia(1967).¹ They had come a long way to argue the cases that together were, “one fine morning—,” supposed to form a new union between the master race and its excluded Others. As the marchers stood with the Reverend...

      • CHAPTER FIVE Un-Natural Things: Constructions of Race, Gender, and Disability
        (pp. 159-186)
        Robert L. Hayman Jr. and Nancy Levit

        A century ago, the Supreme Court of the United States explained that legislation “is powerless to eradicate racial instincts”; that the U.S. Constitution “could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color”; that if “one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.” Racial caste defied radical egalitarianism; the racial order subsisted, as the Supreme Court put it, “in the nature of things.”

        So little has changed. As if to celebrate the centennial ofPlessy v. Ferguson,the Supreme Court now tells us that desegregation orders...

      • CHAPTER SIX Race and the Immigration Laws: The Need for Critical Inquiry
        (pp. 187-198)
        Kevin R. Johnson

        During its first full decade, Critical Race Theory has failed to explore fully the relationship between race and immigration law. This material omission results in part from the longstanding assumption that race relations in the United States exclusively concern African Americans and whites.¹ Such a binary perspective, however, obscures the relationship between the subordination of various minority communities. It is simply not possible to appreciate fully the treatment of any particular racial group without understanding the deeply interrelated and intertwined oppression of all racial minorities in the United States.² Because immigration law unquestionably is central to Asian and Latina/o subordination,...

      • CHAPTER SEVEN “Simple Logic”: Race, the Identity Documents Rule, and the Story of a Nation Besieged and Betrayed
        (pp. 199-220)
        Sherene H. Razack

        National stories, narratives, or narrations enable members of nations to think of themselves as part of a community. Stories make it possible for individuals who are unknown to one another to imagine that they share a common bond. It is in this sense that Benedict Anderson writes that nations are imagined.¹ However, national stories, including a story about the nation’s origins and its history told over time, are contested stories. As Edward Said reminds us, in imperialism, where the battle is over land—“who owned the land, who had the right to settle and work on it, who kept it...

      • CHAPTER EIGHT Straight Out of the Closet: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
        (pp. 221-242)
        Devon W. Carbado

        Typically, we define a perpetrator of discrimination as someone who acts intentionally to bring about some discriminatory result. This is a narrow and politically palatable conception. Those of us who unquestionably accept the racial, gender, and heterosexual privileges we have, and those of us who fail to acknowledge our victimless status vis-à-vis racism, sexism, and homophobia, are also perpetrators of discrimination.¹

        Taking identity privileges for granted helps to legitimize certain problematic assumptions about identity and entitlement. These assumptions make it difficult for us to challenge the starting points of many of our most controversial conversations about equality. We simply assume,...

    • Section B: Narrativity
      • Celebrating Racialized Legal Narratives
        (pp. 243-250)
        Margaret E. Montoya

        Writing an introduction for a group of articles dealing with narrative gives me a chance to offer public tribute to the many storytellers who have imprinted my memory with the accounts of their experiences. Like countless others, I have been privileged to read the autobiographies, self-portraits, allegories, fables, and fictive narratives that are now part of the oppositional legal canons being developed by Outsiders: people of color, feminists, Queers, the dis/abled. Allow me a momentary recollection: Patricia Williams finding comfort in her lease and her robe, Rodrigo “fractalizing” Richard Delgado, Mari Matsuda basking in the accents of Hawaii, Chuck Lawrence...

      • CHAPTER NINE The Unbearable Whiteness of Being
        (pp. 251-257)
        Thomas Ross

        I rehearsed the excuses I might offer to Jean. “It’s a difficult time for me to be away…. My son has an important athletic event that weekend…. I have such a limited travel budget, and I am already committed.” I could think of many things to say; none of them rang true.

        When I promised Jean Stefancic that I would come to the Critical Race Theory Conference at Yale and be part of her panel, it had seemed like a great idea. It would be a historic event, everyone would be there, nothing could be more important, it seemed. But...

      • CHAPTER TEN Construction Project: Color Me Queer + Color Me Family = Camilo’s Story
        (pp. 258-273)
        Victoria Ortiz and Jennifer Elrod

        Our son, Camilo, was eight years old. He arrived home one day from his after-school program, his large brown eyes swollen and filled with tears. He broke into sobs, fighting for air. His shoulders heaved, and he wept as if his heart would at any moment burst from his small chest. We two were immediately overwhelmed with speculative visions of the kind of dire adult-type tragedies he might have witnessed: violence in the street, disaster at his school, the death of a beloved teacher, or a fatal accident observed.

        “What is it, sweetie?” we asked, as we scooped him into...

      • CHAPTER ELEVEN On Being Homeless: One Aboriginal Woman’s “Conquest” of Canadian Universities, 1989–98
        (pp. 274-287)
        Patricia Monture-Angus

        I use the notion of “homelessness” with hesitation. I acknowledge that I exercise much privilege in my life (income, education, profession, and so on). I have a physical home. My quest, since I started teaching nine years ago at Dalhousie Law School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is for an intellectual home. After the first two years of teaching on a term contract, I secured a tenure-track position at the University of Ottawa’s law school. Restlessness, a feeling I now understand as “homelessness,” set in before that first move from Halifax to Ottawa. This paper is both my story and a...

      • CHAPTER TWELVE Dinner and Self-Determination
        (pp. 288-302)
        Henry J. Richardson III

        President Bandwere: I am pleased to meet you, after hearing the reports of your enthusiastic reception in speaking to our students and faculty at our National Law School. And I appreciate that your trip here from the United States was made possible through the American Embassy by the United States Information Agency and its Overseas Lecture Program.

        Professor Jones: It is likewise good to finally meet you, Your Excellency. I am glad to be able to return to your country after having visited some years ago, shordy after your independence. As you know, I have concentrated in my work on...

    • Section C: Globalization
      • Critical Race Theory in Global Context
        (pp. 303-309)
        Celina Romany

        The long absence of “critical” schools of thought in legal academia has paved the way for Critical Race Theory in this country. It is now clear that critical perspectives on racial and gender subordination—perspectives that reflected the experiences of subordinated people—were long overdue. As an alternative methodology and a source of theoretical and practical knowledge, CRT has shown in this past decade that critical perspectives on social, political, and economic subordination must give space to marginalized voices. This collage of voices has made CRT a significant critical force in legal theory.

        With respect to international law, critical legal...

      • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Global Markets, Racial Spaces, and the Role of Critical Race Theory in the Struggle for Community Control of Investments: An Institutional Class Analysis
        (pp. 310-336)
        Elizabeth M. Iglesias

        In this chapter, I examine the role of law in the production of racial spaces. An initial comment about the term “racial spaces” is a good place to start. Viewed through the lens of neo-liberal economic theory, the term “racial spaces” is a meaningless formulation, because in neo-liberal economics communities are conceptualized as net-works of markets. Capital flows reflect the purportedly “colorblind” imperatives of profit maximization, and race-neutral laws of supply and demand work to allocate capital to the highest-value user across competing networks of markets according to their competitive and comparative advantages. Indeed, from this perspective, the redlining practices...

      • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Global Feminism at the Local Level: The Criminalization of Female Genital Surgeries
        (pp. 337-344)
        Isabelle R. Gunning

        This chapter on the local impact of a set of domestic laws targeting African-born resident and citizen women is part of a set of essays that use Critical Race Theory to analyze transnational law. In particular, this essay uses a child of CRT, Critical Race Feminism (CRF), which focuses on the perspectives of and effects on women of color to examine these laws, the political maneuvering involved in the enactment of these laws, and the social impact of these laws on their targets: women of color.

        CRT has not been widely understood to encompass international and transnational legal approaches, but...

      • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Breaking Cycles of Inequality: Critical Theory, Human Rights, and Family In/justice
        (pp. 345-365)
        Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol

        The 1997 celebration of the tenth anniversary of Critical Race Theory commemorated the birth of a movement that, at its core, is committed to humanitarian conceptions of personhood.¹ These conceptions transcend the limitations of current equality doctrine.² The human-rights norms that further these conceptions were first articulated comprehensively in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a revolutionary document that embraces a plethora of individual rights that are central to personhood—not only civil and political rights but also social, economic, cultural, and solidarity rights.

        This chapter posits that a co-celebration of the CRT enterprise on its tenth anniversary and the...

      • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Critical Race Theory and Post-Colonial Development: Radically Monitoring the World Bank and the IMF
        (pp. 366-376)
        Enrique R. Carrasco

        In this chapter, I explore how Critical Race Theory might help us monitor the development policies of multilateral institutions, particularly those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (collectively known as the Bretton Woods Institutions, or BWIs), from a radical perspective. This task is vital in light of the troublesome paradox we face in today’s increasingly interconnected and globalized economy. On the one hand, the technologically driven phenomenon of globalization has significantly increased trade and capital flows throughout the world, creating promising opportunities for economic growth. On the other hand, globalization has also led to increased poverty,...

  7. Part III: Directions
    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Critical Coalitions: Theory and Praxis
      (pp. 379-392)
      Julie A. Su and Eric K. Yamamoto

      Why are progressive law professors so often absent from the in-the-trenches legal struggles of communities of color—where trial courts, community halls, city councils, churches, corporate-accountability campaigns, government bureaucracies, and state initiatives are the terrain for race controversies? And why are political lawyers so often missing from gatherings of progressive academics—where critiques of race, culture, and law provide critical insight into the limitations and possibilities of contemporary civil-rights practice in pursuit of racial justice? Of course, progressive scholars and political lawyers do interact. But in our estimation, not nearly enough.

      We write in the hope of blurring the line,...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Beyond, and Not Beyond, Black and White: Deconstruction Has a Politics
      (pp. 393-398)
      Mari Matsuda

      A President’s conversation on race is going on right now, accompanied by a new McCarthyism that excludes a radical critique of American racism. No one affiliated with Critical Race Theory sits on the President’s Commission, and that is not an accident. It is impossible to have a conversation about race in America without critical race theorists unless the omission is deliberate. Our work is a looming absence as the national conversation grows in confusion.

      I heard the confusion all of this week. On Monday, I was discussing the President’s Initiative on Race with an Asian American civil-rights lawyer. She said...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Outsider Scholars, Critical Race Theory, and “OutCrit” Perspectivity: Postsubordination Vision as Jurisprudential Method
      (pp. 399-410)
      Francisco Valdes

      This chapter considers the relationship of Critical Race Theory¹ to the concept and potential of postsubordination vision as jurisprudential method. But as presented later, postsubordination is both a means and an end. It also comprises both method and content, for it describes the project of articulating and producing the sociolegal conditions necessary to the attainment of substantive security by outsider communities.

      By “substantive security” I mean specifically outgroup attainment of safe, secure, and continuous access to the basic rights, goods, and services that are substantially necessary to human well-being. More doctrinally, and perhaps somewhat simply, I mean by “substantive security”...

  8. AFTERWORD: The Handmaid’s Truth
    (pp. 411-412)
    Derrick A. Bell

    Many years after having read the book, I remain fascinated by the similarities between the dangers faced by those of us writing in the Critical Race Theory mode and those faced by the heroine of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel,The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood’s story recalls the Old Testament story of Rachel, whose child was fathered by her husband Jacob but born to her handmaid, Bilhad. But her narrative takes place in a post-nuclear world in which a dictatorial regime forces women still able to bear children to serve as breeders for leaders whose wives are barren. Offred, the heroine, is...

  9. About the Contributors
    (pp. 413-414)