What is Critical Race Theory?

From UCLA School of Public Affairs | Critical Race Studies

The Theory.

Critical Race Theory was developed out of legal scholarship. It provides a critical analysis of race and racism from a legal point of view. Since its inception within legal scholarship CRT has spread to many disciplines.  CRT has basic tenets that guide its framework. These tenets are interdisciplinary and can be approached from different branches of learning.

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. CRT also rejects the traditions of liberalism and meritocracy. Legal discourse says that the law is neutral and colorblind, however, CRT challenges this legal “truth” by examining liberalism and meritocracy as a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege.  CRT also recognizes that liberalism and meritocracy are often stories heard from those with wealth, power, and privilege. These stories paint a false picture of meritocracy; everyone who works hard can attain wealth, power, and privilege while ignoring the systemic inequalities that institutional racism provides.

Intersectionality within CRT points to the multidimensionality of oppressions and recognizes that race alone cannot account for disempowerment. “Intersectionality means the examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their combination plays out in various settings.”[1] This is an important tenet in pointing out that CRT is critical of the many oppressions facing people of color and does not allow for a one–dimensional approach of the complexities of our world.

Narratives or counterstories, as mentioned before, contribute to the centrality of the experiences of people of color. These stories challenge the story of white supremacy and continue to give a voice to those that have been silenced by white supremacy.[2]Counterstories take their cue from larger cultural traditions of oral histories, cuentos, family histories and parables.[3] This is very important in preserving the history of marginalized groups whose experiences have never been legitimized within the master narrative. It challenges the notion of liberalism and meritocracy as colorblind or “value-neutral” within society while exposing racism as a main thread in the fabric of the American foundation.

Another component to CRT is the commitment to Social justice and active role scholars take in working toward “eliminating racial oppression as a broad goal of ending all forms of oppression”. [4] This is the eventual goal of CRT and the work that most CRT scholars pursue as academics and activists.

The Movement.

The Critical Race Theory movement can be seen as a group of interdisciplinary scholars and activists interested in studying and changing the relationship between race, racism and power. [5] This is crucial to understand in order to fully realize the goals of CRS in SPA. CRT is an amalgamation of concepts that have been derived from the Civil Rights and ethnic studies discourses. In the 1970s, a number of lawyers, activists, and scholars saw the work of the Civil Rights as being stalled and in many instances negated. They also saw the liberal and positivist views of laws as being colorblind and ignorant of the racism that is pervasive in the law.

The works of Derrick Bell and Alan Freeman have been attributed to the start of CRT.[6]Bell and Freeman were frustrated with the slow pace of racial reform in the United Sates. They argued that the traditional approaches of combating racism were producing smaller gains than in previous years. Thus, Critical Race Theory is an outgrowth of Critical Legal Studies (CLS), which was a leftist movement that challenged traditional legal scholarship. These CRT scholars continued forward and were joined by Richard Delgado. In 1989, they held their first conference in Madison, Wisconsin.[7] This was the beginning of the CRT as movement.

CRT has more recently had some spin-offs from the original movement. Latina/o Critical Theory (LatCrit), feisty queer-crit interest group, and Asian American Legal Scholarship are examples of the sub-disciplines within CRT. These sub-disciplines address specific issues that affect each unique community. For LatCrit and Asian American scholars they examine language and immigration policies, whereas, a small emerging group of Indian scholars examine indigenous people’s sovereignty and claims to land. This displays the diversity even within the CRT disciplines that hold CRT to maintain its multidisciplinary approach.

[1] Delgado et al (2001, p. 51)

[2] Dixson et al (2006, p. 4)

[3] Solórzano (1998)

[4] Solórzano (1998)

[5] Delgado et al.  (2001, p. 2)

[6] Ladson-Billings (1998, p. 10)

[7] Delgado et al.  (2001, p. 4)

Call for Assistance

January 2, 2016,

NAACP Pomona Valley Branch 1085B and the Pomona Valley Community is in Prayer and Pain. According to authorities a Pomona man arrested after allegedly setting a Pomona woman ablaze on Christmas Day killing her. Authorities stated domestic dispute.

The deceased woman leaves 4 children and 2 grandchildren amazed and confused now what? The house is unsuitable for living due to fire damage and police investigation. The family is living in a hotel and in need of the following items: jackets, shoes, blankets, underwear, daily eating. We are suggestion gift certificate cards, due to various of ages and sex of individuals:

A 24 years old woman
A 19 years old man
Two boys, 12 and a 10 years, old in DCFS custody
2 grandchildren: 5 and 6 years old, a boy and a girl, with their mother, the 24 year old woman.

Two City of Pomona families bringing in the New Year with unfamiliar pain and searching for hope, we are reaching out to the Pomona Valley Community to give whatever, you can.

Send your contributions to:

NAACP Pomona Valley Branch 1085B
101 West Mission Blvd. Suite #110-250
Pomona, CA 91766

Be sure to indicate that they are for the Pomona fire victims.

Or donate by Credit Card or PayPal.


For more information email the NAACP Pomona Valley Branch 1085B.

Together We Are Stronger!

Thank you,

Jeanette Ellis-Royston,
Branch President

Denounce Rep. Sanchez’ Islamaphobic Remarks

Alice A. Huffman, President of the California NAACP, calls on California Congressional representatives in both parties to denounce Sanchez’ Islamaphobic remarks.

Today, one day after Loretta Sanchez, defended her claim Trump-like that up to 20% of Muslims around the world want a caliphate and would support terrorism to get it, the California NAACP President Alice A. Huffman called on California Congressional representatives in both parties to denounce Sanchez’ Islamaphobic remarks.

Read the full news release.

Forum and Book Signing

Lessons from an Activist Intellectual
by Jose Zapata Calderon

Calderon-book
Saturday, November 7 at 7:00pm
The dA Center for the Arts
252 S Main St, Pomona, California 91766

This book provides examples of how an academician can combine the roles of teacher, researcher, and activist with a community-based critical pedagogy for democracy and empowerment. This book discusses the interconnections made between José Calderón’s pedagogy and his history as an immigrant, student, social movement leader, researcher, professor, and community organizer. At the same time, it provides examples of an interactive, intercultural, and interdisciplinary pedagogy that involves both students and community participants as both teachers and learners in social change projects. This style of pedagogy has a particular salience for historically excluded individuals from diverse racial, class, gender, and sexual orientation backgrounds, for whom the educational experience can be both an alienating and empowering experience.