Critical Race Theory: Theorist vs Activist Dimension

The 2001 textbook — Critical Race Theory: An Introduction — stated, “Unlike some other academic disciplines, Critical Race Theory contains an activist dimension.”



Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

The New York Times recently described Critical Race Theory as a “framework” that found its way inside American institutions. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “framework” as a system of rules, ideas, or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something. I’m pointing this out to suggest CRT does not lend itself to a single or simplistic definition.

Recently, former CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill conducted several interviews with opponents of CRT on The Black News, a show Hill hosts.

Hill began each interview by asking CRT opponents to define CRT, each opponent defined the theory as best they could, then Hill dismissed their definitions as simplistic or misrepresentations. Hill’s rebuttal gave the impression the opponents of CRT were ill-informed.

Hill’s tactic worked well.

Following Hill’s interviews there were headlines boasting: Opponents of CRT struggle to define the term. However, in two brief exchanges with CRT opponents, Hill inadvertently made comments that highlighted why there’s been opposition to CRT in the first place.

In the first exchange, the CRT opponent listed specific incidents that he found problematic, and Hill wondered if the problem was the implementation of CRT and not the theory itself.

This is an important distinction.

Defenders of CRT are defending the original purpose of the overall theory while opponents of CRT are objecting to how the theories are put into practice.

In the second exchange, the CRT opponent told Hill CRT abandoned Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a color-blind society. Hill asked the CRT opponent if King’s philosophy should be taught. Yes, the CRT opponent replied, but Hill said, King stated right before his death that he believed all white people were unconsciously racist, and that’s what CRT teaches. Then Hill asked: Shouldn’t that part of King’s teachings be taught also?




J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.