A Long Review of Crenshaw’s Critical Race Theory – Part 2

img_1198Additional Quotes:

“According to Bell, the traditional liberal image of the law as the neutral, impersonal mediator of group conflicts masks its function in producing and insulating white dominance. Legal decisions reflect the balance of racial power and any anxiety that exists in the larger social order” – Crenshaw et al., Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement, p. 3

“Freeman contends that legal doctrine must be understood as part of an ideological narrative about how race is understood, a narrative that can legitimate racial power by representing itself as neutral and objective. As he argues, the legal adoption of the perpetrator perspective is part of the ideological process through which forms of racial power that do not register on the perpetrator framework get implicitly represented as ‘not racism’ and, thus, are pushed beyond the scope of remediation.” – Crenshaw et al., CRT, p. 4

The fault concept [i.e. the idea that antidiscrimination law should be applied to “blameworthy individuals who are violating the otherwise shared norm”] gives rise to complacency about one’s own moral status; it creates a class of ‘innocent’ who need not feel any personal responsibility for the conditions associated with discrimination, and who therefore feel great resentment when called upon to bear any burdens in connection with remedying violations. This resentment accounts for much of the ferocity surrounding the debate about so-called reverse discrimination, for being called on to bear burdens ordinarily imposed only upon the guilty involves an apparently unjustified stigmatization of those led by the fault notion to believe in their own innocence.” – Alan David Freeman, “Legitimizing Racial Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine,” CRT, p. 30

“In a sense, the two theories [of freedom of association and colorblindness] share a worldview – the abstract utopia where racial discrimination has never existed and where, ironically, both theories would probably be irrelevant. The only way that discriminations by whites against blacks can become ethically equivalent to discriminations by blacks against whites is to presuppose that there is no actual problem of racial discrimination.” – Alan David Freeman, “Legitimizing Racial Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine,” CRT, p. 34

“those very [distributional] rules appealed to by the beneficiaries to legitimize the conditions of the victims were created by and are maintained by the dominant race” – Alan David Freeman, “Legitimizing Racial Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine,” CRT, p. 35

“Victims are people who continue to experience or are ostensibly tied to the historical experience of actual oppression of victimization, whether or not individual perpetrators, or their specific successors in interest, can be identified now.” – Alan David Freeman, “Legitimizing Racial Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine,” CRT, p. 45

“Many persons of minority race see racism as including institutional components that extend far beyond lynch mobs, segregated schools, or epithets such as [***] or [***]. Self-interest, mixed with inexperience, may make it difficult for the privileged white male writer to adopt this perspective or to face up to its implications.” – Richard Delgado, “The Imperial Scholar,” CRT, p. 50

“While no one could object if sensitive white scholars contribute occasional articles and useful proposals (after all, there are many more of the mainstream scholars, must these scholars make a career of it? The time has come for white liberal authors who write in the field of civil rights to redirect their efforts and to encourage their colleagues to do so as well.” – Richard Delgado, “The Imperial Scholar,” CRT, p. 53

On the “horizontal connections” between oppressor and oppressor groups that undermine objections to reparations: “looking to the bottom helps to refute the standard objections to reparations. In response to the problem of horizontal connections among victims and perpetrators, a victim would note that because the experience of discrimination against the group is real, the connections must exist…Each specified act of oppression against a minority group reinforces, entrenches, and promotes the assumption that nonwhites are different and properly treated as different. Victims necessarily think of themselves as a group, because they are treated and survive as a group.” – Mari Matsua, “Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations,” CRT, p. 70

“A horizontal connection exists as well within the perpetrator group. Members of the dominant class continue to benefit from the wrongs of the past and the presumptions of inferiority imposed upon victims. They may decry this legacy and harbor no racist thoughts of their own, but they cannot avoid their privileged status.” – Mari Matsua, “Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations,” CRT, p. 71

“Reparations is a ‘critical legalism,’ a legal concept that has transformative power and avoids the traps of individualism, neutrality, and indeterminacy which plague many mainstream concepts of rights or legal principles. Reparations avoids standard liberal pitfalls because, first, it is a concept directed and remedying wrongs committed against the powerless. Unlike ‘free speech’ or ‘due process,’ payment for past injustice is a one-way value: those on the bottom – minority group members, political outsiders, the exploited- will receive reparations. Second, reparations doctrine supports group rights rather than individual rights and thus escapes some of the ideological traps of traditional rights thinking.” – Mari Matsua, “Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations,” CRT, p. 75

“[Critical Legal Studies] has unabashedly challenged the accepted values of classical liberalism by undermining the interpretations of private property, individual rights, equality of opportunity, meritocracy, and governmental power which have sustained and reproduced oppressive hierarchies of wealth and power” – Anthony E. Cook, “Beyond Critical Legal Studies: The Reconstructive Theology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” CRT, p. 85

The critics [i.e. Critical Legal Scholars] present law as a series of ideological constructs that operate to support existing social arrangements by convincing people that things are both inevitable and fair.” – Kimberle Crenshaw, “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment,” CRT, p. 108

“In broadest terms, CLS [Critical Legal Studies] scholars have attempted to analyze legal ideology and discourse as… social artifacts that operate to recreate and legitimate American society.” – Kimberle Crenshaw, “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment,” CRT, p. 108

Critical scholars derive their vision of legal ideology from the work of Antonio Gramsci, an Italian neo-Marxist theorist [who] … articulated the concept of hegemony, the means by which a system of attitudes and beliefs, permeating both popular consciousness and the ideology of elites, reinforces existing social arrangements and convinces the dominated classes that the existing order is inevitable…The concept of hegemony allows these [CLS] scholars to explain the continued legitimacy of American society by revealing how legal consciousness induces people to accept or consent to their own oppression.” – Kimberle Crenshaw, “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment,” CRT, p. 108

“At a more general and abstract level of nationalist analysis, the repudiation of the dominant ideology of public education corresponded to a thoroughgoing critique of the epistemological assumptions of liberalism as a whole. Black nationalists depicted the ideas of rationality, neutrality, and objectivity, which integrationists associated with the transcendence of bias and prejudice, as the particular cultural rhetoric of ‘the small minority of white men who live in Europe and North America.‘” – Gary Peller, “Race Consciousness,” CRT, p. 141-142

“In general, the radical critique launched by black nationalist sociologists and cultural critics claimed that objective reason or knowledge could not exist because one’s position in the social structure of race relations influenced what one would call ‘knowledge’ or ‘rationality’…There could be no neutral theory of knowledge: knowledge itself was a function of the ability of the powerful to impose their own views, to differentiate between knowledge and myth, reasons and emotion, and objectivity and subjectivity.” – Gary Peller, “Race Consciousness,” CRT, p. 142

“Understanding unconscious motivation will also help us comprehend and combat the hegemony of the ideology of equal opportunity. A considerable body of scholarship from the academic left has analyzed the law as a hegemonic tool of domination. According to one theory, domination occurs when the ruling class gains the consent of the dominated classes through a system of ideas that reinforces the morality or inevitability of the existing order.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The ID, the EDO, and Equal Protection Reckoning with Unconscious Racism,” CRT, p. 239

“Under this view, ideology is a defense mechanism against the anxiety felt by those who hold power through means and with motives that they cannot comfortably acknowledge. This ‘strain theory’ explains ideology as a response to the strains that an individuals or a group’s social role or position creates. Ideology ‘provides a “symbolic outlet” for emotional disturbances generated by social disequilibrium’; it enables privileged individuals to continue practices they would otherwise condemn and in which their own complicity would be painful to admit.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The ID, the EDO, and Equal Protection Reckoning with Unconscious Racism,” CRT, p. 239

“This article … argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s use of color-blind constitutionalism -a collection of legal themes functioning as a racial ideology- fosters white racial domination… A color-blind interpretation of the Constitution legitimates and thereby maintains the social, economic, and political advantages that whites hold over other Americans.” – Neil Gotanda, “A Critique of ‘Our Constitution is Color-Blind’,” CRT, p. 257

“Although the law’s determination of any ‘fact,’ including that of group identity, is not infinitely flexible, its studied ignorance of the issue of racial group identity ensures wrong results by assuming a pseudo-objective posture that does not permit it to hear the complex dialogue concerning identity questions, particularly as they pertain to historically dominated groups. Instead the law holds to the basic premise that definition from above can be fair to those below, that beneficiaries of racially conferred privilege have the right to establish norms for those who have historically been oppressed pursuant to those norms, and that race is not historically contingent.” – Cheryl I. Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” CRT, p. 287

The law expresses the dominant conception of constructs such as ‘rights,’ ‘equality,’ ‘property,’ ‘neutrality’ and ‘power’: rights mean shields from interference; equality means formal equality; property means the settled expectations that are to be protected; neutrality means the existing distribution, which is natural; and power is the mechanism for guarding all of this… Affirmative action begins the essential work of rethinking rights, power, equality, race, and property from the perspective of those whose access to each of these has been limited by their oppression.” –  Cheryl I. Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” CRT, p. 288

Precedent, rights theory, and objectivity merely are formal rules that serve a covert purpose; even in the context of equality theory, they will never vindicate the legal rights of black Americans.” – Derek A. Bell, Jr. “Race Realism,” CRT, p. 307

“Unhappily, most black spokespersons and civil rights organizations remain committed to the ideology of racial equality.” – – Derek A. Bell, Jr. “Race Realism,” CRT, p. 308

“Critical Race Theory recognizes the inadequacy of disaggregating individual plaintiffs and causes of action from the larger context of social conflict in which lies at the heart of a racist regime. Hence, formal, individualized equality of opportunity and objective norms of meritocracy can hardly serve as viable opposition to group inequality and subjective bias. Moreover, societal fault and accountability cannot be reduced to actionable claims only when evidenced by individual responsibility for intentional wrong. Finally, any adherents of Critical Race Theory see an interlocking set of oppressions that extend beyond the singular base of race and include the bases of gender, economic class, and sexual orientation.” – John. O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” CRT, p. 320

Law, of course, is not only an instrument of social control but also a symbolic expression of dominant society.” – John. O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” CRT, p. 323

“How people of color adapt to this situation [in which “access to resources … [lies] within white institutional hands”] gives rise to conflicts in orientation, as we must emphasize whether we are more directed by assimilation or autonomy, by individual self-fulfillment or collective responsibility, by group accommodation or group resistance. Critical race scholars adopt in each case the latter orientation. To do otherwise is to accept an integrated context that reflects tokenism, gradualism, and paternalism. To do otherwise is to discount too greatly the prevalence of group domination and subordination.” – John. O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” CRT, p. 323-324

“critical race scholarship provides an oppositional expression that challenges oppression. In the process, white experience and judgment are rejected as paradigms against which people of color must be measured.. critical race theorists are insurgents in the efforts to undermine dominant, context-setting assumptions and truths.” – John. O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” CRT, p. 326

“Recognizing oppression as a condition that directs redress, I have explicitly sought to explain oppression in terms of cultural silencing and invasion, exploitation, structured containment and expendability, and the dominant imposition of a prescribed reality.” – John. O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” CRT, p. 327

“the story that is told within the dominant [legal] discourse has systematically excluded the experience of people of color and other outsiders, and [teachers] are trained to believe that the story told by those in power is a universal story.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The Word and The River: Pedagogy as Scholarship as Struggle,” CRT, p. 337

“Practitioners of the Word [i.e. critical pedagogy] must learn to privilege their own perspectives and those of other outsider, understanding that the dominant legal discourse is premised upon the claim to knowledge of objective truths and the existence of neutral principles. We must free ourselves from the mystification produced by this ideology. We must learn to trust our own senses, feelings, and experiences, and to give them authority, even (or especially) in the face of dominant accounts of social reality that claim universality.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The Word and The River: Pedgagy as Scholarship as Struggle,” CRT, p. 338

The Word [i.e. critical pedagogy] is also subjective in the sense that it makes no claims to value neutrality… This is another way of saying that practitioners of the Word evaluate work product (judicial opinions, legislation, organizing tactics, ideas, theory, poetry) according to the degree to which the effort serves the cause of liberation. Embracing intrumentalism, like owning one’s perspective, serves a dual liberatory purpose… An avowedly political posture also serves as an antidote to the mystifying and oppressive properties of the dominant ideology of shared values and neutral principles.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The Word and The River: Pedgagy as Scholarship as Struggle,” CRT, p. 339-340

“In embracing the use of narrative as cultural text, practitioners of the Word [i.e. critical pedagoy] must consider and employ methodologies of research and interpretation which draw upon the wealth of articulated experience and feelings contained in our stories. These methodologies must also serve to give legitimacy and authority to this way of knowing.” – Charles R. Lawrence III, “The Word and The River: Pedgagy as Scholarship as Struggle,” CRT, p. 345

Struggles to control sexual expression and reproduction pit the combined hegemonic power of whites, males, and the middle class against overlapping constitutnecies of women, people of color, and ordinary working folks… black women who attempt to express their sexuality and control their reproduction should not have to travel through a minefield of stereotypes, cliches, and material hardships with the handicap of a restriction that they keep to the right.” – Regina Austin, “Sapphire Bound,” CRT, p. 433

“Because we cannot predict a racist practice from its definition of race, we can never determine beforehand whether a practice will be racist or antiracist solely from its content. We can only examine the way race is being used and what it is being used to say. Only after examining the context and the effect can we determine whether the practice is racist or antiracist. If the practie reinforces the subordination of a historically opressed group, we can label that practice racist.” – Jayne Chong-Soon Lee, “Race and Postmodernism,” CRT, p. 446

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