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Critical Race Theory


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Controversial. Let us talk about it. I don't want to shy away from topics just because they are difficult.

Conservative media is talking a lot about it. Liberal media is talking about it partially just because conservative media is talking about it.

What is it. So I figure we can start here. There already seems to be disagreement about WHAT IT IS. Great way to start right? Because there has been so much back and forth I honestly have to say that I'm not sure I fully know what the definition is by different groups.

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory

Some youtube videos:

  1. PBS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdxrkwpPKc
  2. Ryan Chapman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rDu_VUpoJ8 - I don't know anything about this guy but his demeaner and the information he presents in this video seems reasonable.
  3.  UC Berkeley School of Law - Critical Race Theory: Common Misconceptions - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87hQ2Gpa390
  4. The Heritage Foundation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhRPlsa-Y-0 - Throwing in a wildcard.

It feels like most of the bullet points that conservative media talks about seem to actually have a kernel of truth but, as usual, are being exaggerated to larger proportions. From what I have seen from less biased sources, I find myself bristling at most of the concepts that make up CRT.

I cannot think of any scenario where racism is good or should be encouraged in culture or in law. Shouldn't the objectively ideal end goal be for a society and government which is blind to the color of someone's skin? Some of the examples being pointed to that supposedly reinforce CRT seem more like statistical arguments that, instead of considering underlying causes, default to racism as the explanation.

The idea of what gets taught to non-adults outside of higher education I think might be a different post for a different day.

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Critical race theory is predominantly focused on some of the structural inequalities (specifically legal/law) and analyzing that critically.  I've mostly heard of it being taught to college students or graduate level students, and being used in academia.  
It's absolutely being used as a boogieman by conservatives, with a clear intention of using a culture war style issue to gin up the base in the upcoming elections.  I strongly suspect that fox and friends won't give a shit about CRT post 2022/2024 election cycle. 

It's clear that America has had systemic and structural racism in the past.  The question is how much of that exists today and are these lingering effects or still present issues?  Does society need to make changes to address these issues, and if so what does that look like?

I'm going to skip over slavery, not because it's not significant but because I think it's fair to say that slavery has been abolished in this country for over 150 years ago, and rightly or wrongly many people believe that happened so long ago that it has no bearing on today.  Also critical race theory didn't begin in academia until after the Civil Rights Act was passed and many legal scholars didn't see the structural changes happen that they expected. 
[sarcasm] When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed we solved racism. [/sarcasm]

Clearly there was an era of Jim Crow segregation and issued that required the Federal Government to step in and forcibly integrate schools.  I just want to remind everyone that Ruby Bridges is 66, and this is indicative of a much more recent set of issues. 
Beyond the most obvious acts institutional racism like segregation, there were other issues.  One of the largest ones in my mind is Redlining, which was in existence until about 1975 in some parts of the country, even though it was supposedly outlawed in 1968. 

Why does redlining matter?  One of the most crucial ways for families to build inter-generational wealth is through home ownership.  Redlining was a clear policy that either prevented minorities from buying homes, or forced them into specific areas which often reduced their prospects and property values.  I'm not even going to get into the issues surrounding lead exposure and how if you look at the redlining map of chicago and the childhood lead exposure map, they're eerily similar.  Here's another article talking about that same issue in Omaha
While I don't want to go too far back in time, I also want to point out that post WW2 most GI's received very strong government subsidy of their education and housing.  Even though the GI bill was race neutral, southern states heavily discriminated against black veterans.

But what the hell does that have to do with critical race theory TODAY?
Well, some of the obvious elements would be a substantial difference in familial wealth based on race - black families have ~5% of the wealth that white families do.
There's also health related issues:  Why is black infant mortality double that of white infant mortality - regardless of economic status?  What about the above mentioned lead poisoning in infants leading to lower quality of life/education and potentially higher criminality?
Carceral issues:  The disproportionate incarceration rates for black Americans vs white Americans.  Also disproportionate sentencing.  And finally the ugly reality that the 13th amendment allows for slavery of imprisoned people and that southern states used this as a sort of loophole during the reconstruction era (1860-1877) - sadly this is still used today.

I think critical race theory suggests that many of these problems exist because many institutions were built upon racist laws, and these laws and institutions have not made enough changes to fix these broad issues. 

The conservative media has conflated critical race theory with teaching young people about racism, suggesting that some teachers are 'poisoning children with the idea that America is racist.' 
It's clear that no one is teaching critical race theory to children, it's an advanced concept that academics and graduate students write long-winded essays about.  This is the new culture war issue de jour. 

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That definition of CRT feels too generous.

  1. Literal racism was directly enshrined in law in this country not that long ago.
  2. Many of the discrepancies mentioned as examples have happened and are continuing to happen.
  3. The existing systems (mainly focusing on laws) disproportionately affects minorities in a negative way.

These seem like pretty indisputable facts that everyone can agree on. CRT seems to just conclude that therefore, because of this history, the USA, its law, institutions, etc. are inherently racist. Beyond the fact that this conclusion seems to leave no room for other discussions (classicism, etc.) what does this actually accomplish? If a system is inherently flawed then the logic must follow that it is incapable of being fixed so what solution is being proposed? How does this end up extending to critiques of liberalism?

Stepping back: I understand the idea, especially in higher education where you want to promote critical thinking, of intentionally bring up concepts that might be considered adversarial but I'm not sure if CRT was/is only within that scope.

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I think that's where I start to get lost.  I can maybe agree with the premise, but there's no follow-through.  The closest thing I've seen presented regarding critical race theory's agenda is that institutions must be gutted or replaced in order to make progress.  Very few people are interested in that level of structural change to our country.  Oddly enough I think the founding fathers would have been.  I feel that many people forget that the founding fathers were practically throwing shit at the wall to see what stuck - including the fact that they clearly created a government with the ability to modify it's own core laws. 

I agree that academia need the ability to present somewhat outlandish theories, in the same way that I think academia should study marxism or authoritarianism's various flavors.  I think the issue is that most of academia is somewhat insular and whenever something niche like critical race theory leaks out, any semblance of context or nuance is obliterated by the internet and bad actors.  This is a very left leaning hot take on how conservatives have weaponized this as a culture war issue - one main individual being so bold as to brag about how they were going to weaponize it on his twitter timeline.  It's hard to take these discussions too seriously because I suspect that there are individuals that are reacting to this with shock and outrage without any understanding or research.  The few people who might have done some research can't even agree on what critical race theory means to them most of the time - and even if they get past that, I have yet to see a cohesive plan for how to address these structural issues other than "burn it down and build something better."  I sometime rail against slow incremental change just like anyone under 40, but just like every other protest movement without clear legislative goals, this is doomed to failure and obscurity. 

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Not that I really have a desire to reengage on this topic however this does seem to sort of fit into this discussion.

source of tweet - https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1411063289350610947

source of news - https://apnews.com/article/richardson-marijuana-test-olympic-100-5980fa868b14b54d4686591b01c65e46?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

image.png

 

 

How can USADA's rules (pdf link) be considered inherently racist (or "colonial")? In discussions like this there usually seems to be some sort of rough statistical correlation that seems connected to socioeconomic status ("class"), which then brings up the fact that ethnic minorities are disproportionately lower class, but Marijuana usage does not have a strong correlation to class or race (when comparing black and white, although asians much lower). I do not understand this conclusion.

 

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