Dear Paul Brush,
I saw your letter to the editor, “A Criticism of Critical Race Theory,” in June 17 edition of the Herald, and I was hoping to help expand the conversation on Critical Race Theory (CRT). Based on your introductory paragraph where you state that the police see people of color as “potential obstacles to order and peace” and that systemic racism “occurs in every institutional apparatus worldwide” I actually think that you should be an advocate, not a critic, of CRT.
The foundation of your argument against CRT relies on the idea that CRT somehow promotes Marxism, and you in turn denounce Marxism because Marxism limits our “freedom in all of its forms.” We could go on forever debating the merits of Marxism but our opinions on Marxism are totally irrelevant to CRT.
The term “Critical Race Theory” was first used by Kimberlé Crenshaw in a series of workshops that she hosted in 1989. These workshops were an early point in Crenshaw’s renowned academic career in which Crenshaw was developing the idea of intersectionality, her foundational analytic framework. Intersectionality is the idea that we should evaluate all axes of oppression (race, class, gender, ability, etc), how each axis informs one another and how these intersections form our lived experiences.
I think that you would agree that teaching our students about intersectionality does not infringe on freedom in all its forms, in fact I think you would agree that this material is valuable to our young scholars.
Furthermore, Marxism is rarely considered to be a foundation of the expansive body of scholarship known as CRT. The American Bar Association’s (ABA) article on CRT makes no mention of Marxism. The ABA states that there are four key tenets of CRT: race is socially constructed, racism is embedded in our society and institutions, “colorblindness” is an ineffective way to fight racism, and people's everyday lives and stories can be important to scholarship. To be honest, the issue of colorblindness seems to be the only tenet that is even debatable. To say, however, that affirmative action–based programs are a dangerous extension of Marxism is pretty far fetched.
While this was a brief breakdown of CRT, I hope that I helped fill in some gaps and cleared up some misconceptions.