Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction

Richard Delgado
Jean Stefancic
Foreword by Angela Harris
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    Critical Race Theory
    Book Description:

    For well over a decade, critical race theory - the school of thought that holds that race lies at the very nexus of American life - has roiled the legal academy. In recent years, however, the fundamental principles of the movement have influenced other academic disciplines, from sociology and politics to ethnic studies and history. And yet, while the critical race theory movement has spawned dozens of conferences and numerous books, no concise, accessible volume outlines its basic parameters and tenets. Here, then, from two of the founders of the movement, is the first primer on one of the most influential intellectual movements in American law and politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8531-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
    Angela Harris

    In 1982 I was a graduate student in social science at the University of Chicago. I lived at International House, among a vibrant community of American students from African American, Latino/a, South Asian, and other backgrounds, as well as foreign students from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. We protested and picketed over sanctions for the South African apartheid regime. We saw Michael Jackson moonwalking for the first time on television. Our black male friends got stopped by the police for looking like members of the impoverished African American community that surrounded Hyde Park. We read books in which feminists...

  5. CHAPTER I Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Think of events that can occur in an ordinary day. A child raises her hand repeatedly in a fourth grade class; the teacher either recognizes her or does not. A shopper hands a cashier a five dollar bill to pay for a small item; the clerk either smiles, makes small talk, and deposits change in the shopper’s hand or does not. A woman goes to a new car lot ready to buy; salespeople stand about talking to each other or all converge trying to help her. A jogger in a park gives a brief acknowledgment to an approaching walker; the...

  6. CHAPTER II Hallmark Critical Race Theory Themes
    (pp. 15-36)

    Imagine that a pair of businessmen pass a beggar on a busy downtown street. One says something disparaging about “those bums always sticking their hands out—I wish they would get a job.” His friend takes him to task for his display of classism. He explains that the street person may have overheard the remark and had his feelings hurt. He points out that we must all strive to purge ourselves of racism, classism, and sexism, that thoughts have consequences, and that how you speak makes a difference. The first businessman mutters something about political correctness and makes a mental...

  7. CHAPTER III Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis
    (pp. 37-50)

    Have you ever had the experience of hearing one story and being completely convinced, then hearing an exactly opposite story, equally well told, and being left unsure of your convictions? In an everyday experience, Kim complains to the teacher that Billy has been picking fights on the playground. The teacher listens sympathetically, and is ready to take action against Billy. Fortunately, the teacher listens to Billy’s story or that of an impartial third child. It turns out that Billy is not at fault at all; Kim started the trouble.

    Or have you perhaps had the experience of watching two gifted...

  8. CHAPTER IV Looking Inward
    (pp. 51-66)

    Because politics also has a personal dimension, it should come as no surprise that critical race theorists have turned critique inward, examining the interplay of power and authority within minority communities and movements. This chapter analyzes three aspects of that interplay—intersectionality, anti-essentialism, and the tension between nationalism and assimilation.

    “Intersectionality” means the examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their combination plays out in various settings. These categories—and still others—can be separate disadvantaging factors. What happens when an individual occupies more than one of these categories, for example, is both gay and...

  9. CHAPTER V Power and the Shape of Knowledge
    (pp. 67-86)

    Building on the previous chapter, we now consider further issues dealing with categories and power. Chapter 4 concerned subgroups within civil rights communities. This chapter addresses how we think about race and identity—the black-white binary, critical white studies, and Asian and Latino critical thought. Some of these issues are explosive, controversial, even divisive.

    One of the more contentious issues in American racial thought today is whether the very framework we use to consider problems of race reflects an unstated binary paradigm or mindset. That paradigm, the black-white binary, effectively dictates that nonblack minority groups must compare their treatment to...

  10. CHAPTER VI Critiques and Responses to Criticism
    (pp. 87-100)

    As Thomas Kuhn has pointed out, paradigms resist change. It should come as no surprise, then, that critical race theory, which endeavors to change the reigning paradigm of civil rights thought, has sparked stubborn resistance. For the first few years of its existence, the media treated critical race theory relatively gently. As the movement matured, however, critics felt freer to speak out. Some of the areas that drew attention are storytelling, the critique of merit, truth and objectivity, and the matter of voice.

    In an early article in theHarvard Law Review, Randall Kennedy, an African American colleague of Derrick...

  11. CHAPTER VII Critical Race Theory Today
    (pp. 101-128)

    What is the situation of critical race theory today? In many respects, the movement is thriving. Dynamic new subdisciplines, such as LatCrit and queer-crit studies, challenge civil rights activists to rethink the ways they conceptualize race and civil rights. Critical race theory is taught at many law schools and is spreading rapidly across disciplines. Some judges incorporate its signature ideas and critiques in opinions, even if sometimes without labeling them as such. Lawyers use critical race theory ideas to advocate on behalf of clients and to expose bias within the system. In this chapter, we expand on some of these...

  12. CHAPTER VIII Conclusion
    (pp. 129-140)

    Chapter 7 described critical race theory today. Now, it is time to offer some thoughts on the future. This will include hazarding some predictions on what America’s racial landscape may come to look like, as well as the range of problems civil rights activists and theorists may face as we move into the new century. It will also entail a look at some of the choices critical race theory, as a movement, will confront as it moves into that future, as well as at how the liberal establishment may react to CRT.

    Imagine a young, female child born in the...

  13. Glossary of Terms
    (pp. 141-156)
  14. Index
    (pp. 157-166)
  15. About the Authors
    (pp. 167-168)