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Critical Race Theory, An Introduction

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For well over a decade, critical race theory--the school of thought that holds that race lies at the very nexus of American life--has roiled the legal academy. In recent years, however, the fundamental principles of the movement have influenced other academic disciplines, from sociology and politics to ethnic studies and history.

And yet, while the critical race theory movement has spawned dozens of conferences and numerous books, no concise, accessible volume outlines its basic parameters and tenets. Here, then, from two of the founders of the movement, is the first primer on one of the most influential intellectual movements in American law and politics.

188 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 1995

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Richard Delgado

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 338 reviews
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,422 reviews8,298 followers
May 8, 2021
A thorough yet concise introduction to critical race theory that I would recommend to those interested in its principles. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic write about the main tenets of critical race theory such as that white supremacy exists and that law and legal structures perpetuate it, as well as that racial justice is achievable by transforming the relationship between law and racial power. Additional themes include the importance of intersectionality, the role of storytelling and counter storytelling in resisting white supremacy, critiques of liberalism and incrementalism as opposed to more radical methods of change, and more. I appreciated how they name critiques of critical race theory and respond to them. I also enjoyed the applications of critical race theory to issues such as environmental racism, poverty and class, and colonialism.

At times I wanted the authors to take more of a firm stance about the necessity of critical race theory or to make a more robust application of how it can help fight social inequities. However, I recognize the book came out awhile ago so I think people have applied its principles to fight white supremacy, and perhaps that’s our role of readers to see how we can manifest these ideas into our daily lives and actions. I look forward to continue to applying these ideas in my psychology work!
39 reviews5 followers
June 26, 2020
A highly readable introductory text to a highly questionable school of thought.

There is much about the diagnostic side of critical race theory (which strives to identify and highlight subtle forms of racism) which seems merited. However, CRT's probing can veer into apparent conspiracy theorizing and paranoia, and CRT's proposed solutions are fraught with potential hazards.

Much of whether some of CRT's ideas are helpful or hazardous would appear to depend on how much weight is poured into them. If CRT's ideas are meant only as a grain of salt with which to consider a broader worldview or political philosophy, they may be constructive in many cases. On the other hand, if CRT is meant to be taken as a primary or total philosophy (which appears to be happening in more and more real-world examples at present), then its ideas are inclined to be ruinous. This text seems somewhat varied and sometimes opaque about notions of the proper scope and reach of CRT. The fact that CRT doesn't have any clear limiting principles seems to be part of its problem--thus CRT seems to have a natural tendency toward being maximalist.

CRT is skeptical of the classical liberal notion of objectivity, and emphasizes the idea of storytelling/"lived experience" as a counter method of knowing truth. While storytelling and anecdotes are helpful ways of getting at the truth, to take the CRT storytelling principle to its logical conclusion results in standpoint epistemology, where a person of color is presumed to have exclusive access to truth wherein any claim a person of color makes that something is racist is irrefutable, regardless of the motives of those involved--a concept wide open for abuse, manipulation, and distortion. This is the kind of thinking that leads to such distortions of thought as the mayor of Oakland stating "intentions don't matter when it comes to terrorizing the public...the symbolism of the rope hanging in the tree is malicious regardless of intent. It’s evil, and it symbolizes hatred" when talking about ropes hung from a tree even after it was known that a black man had put them up merely for the purpose of exercise--to give just one example.

The maximalist form of CRT also seems to reinforce categorical racial thinking even as it's trying to overcome such thinking, as it seems to primarily think that people act deterministically according to racial group membership, and tends to ignore people's individuality. This can lead to a distorted view of individual people, an oversimplified view of culture, economics, and politics, and is potentially pernicious for relationships and for social trust and cohesion.

I recommend this essay which explores the many issues with critical race theory--I'm not sure I agree with every word, and the author is addressing a maximalist form of CRT, but I think the critiques are generally warranted: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/rea...
Profile Image for Andrew Russell.
13 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2021
Important to read, especially if, like me, you’re surrounded on all sides by people arguing over a theory about which they’ve read little to nothing of substance.

Critical race theory offers some helpful diagnostic tools, but adopting a maximalist approach that applies this legal theory to every human interaction seems questionable. I also worry that CRT does the exact opposite of what it intends: by flattening the entirety of the human experience into racial categories, the complexity and beauty of people of color can be ignored, e.g, the single defining characteristic of a person of color is that they are oppressed. The question I’ll be chewing on after reading this book: by defining human beings according to their place in a rigid “oppressor/oppressed” paradigm, does CRT thwart its own goal of liberating people of color from the very real phenomenon of systemic racism?

Anyways, it’s a thought-provoking book and a helpful primer on CRT. I’m glad I read it.
Profile Image for David .
1,223 reviews146 followers
January 15, 2021
The authors of this introduction to Critical Race Theory (CRT) define the it as “a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law” (3).

Now, if you are a Christian or a conservative in America and you consume conservative Christian media, you have been told CRT is “the thing destroying both Christianity and our culture!” Its the scapegoat and bogeyman and bad guy to battle against.

Unfortunately, that’s how it goes for talking heads who make their living drumming up fear. I’m now old enough to remember when there were other boogeymen to be terrified of: postmodernism and relativism, multiculturalism and Islamic extremism. It seems like every couple of years there is some new idea out there, inevitably being promoted by cultural elites on university campuses, that is going to destroy your children! Be afraid.

And send money.

When I was in college and seminary, around 20 years ago, the big bad guy was postmodernism. Postmodernism was essentially just moral relativism and would ruin everything. Of course, thankfully I had some intelligent and open-minded professors at seminary who encouraged us to go a little deeper. They offered some nuance, recognizing postmodern philosophy consists of diverse ideas that are not all the same. Of course, this deep thinking and nuance might be why they were content teaching at a small Christian seminary. The big name traveling speakers and radio personalities got a large audience but were quite shallow. There’s a sad truth there - deep thinking and nuance rarely receive a large audience. Yelling and fear - that’s where the money is!

Anyway, I digress.

As I’ve heard more and more about CRT, I’ve been interested in learning about what it actually states. This book (this is a book review, I forgot there for a minute!) is a helpful place to start. It is, as the title says, an introduction. The authors take us through some principal figures and spin off movements to hallmark themes of CRT such as revisionist history and a critique of liberalism. They examine the import of storytelling for CRT. There is a brief section looking at and responding to criticism of CRT.

Overall, this is a helpful little book. It is clearly designed for undergrad use in a classroom, as it includes discussion questions and exercises. I think I have a better general understanding of CRT. Perhaps the best thing about this book is it ought to dissuade any honest reader from imagining CRT as a simplistic monolithic beast to be afraid of. There is complexity and conversation within the movement, including disagreement. Not all CRT scholars or activists are the same!

That said, the interested reader could find similar solid summaries on the internet. I will link to one such series below.

Overall, it makes sense why some Christians are worried about CRT. The critique of Liberalism and Enlightenment Rationalism is threatening when you see these as essential to faith. This is part of the problem with much modern Christian apologetics; they buy into modern presuppositions mostly uncritically. Plenty of historians and theologians have shown that modern assumptions are no more a default nor no better than any other assumptions. If anything, these modern assumptions are more detrimental than premodern (or dare we say, postmodern ones).

Another way of putting this is that while some are so worried about CRT, they have totally missed the real threats: White Christian Nationalism and unfettered capitalism. White Christians have made an idol of a mythologized view of American history, and we have seen how this plays out in real ways. Many Christians in this country are more committed to white America than middle eastern Jesus. We need a little revisionist history perhaps. Likewise, when you live in and benefit from empire, thinking capitalism is God’s gift to make you rich, any critiques sound scary. Is it creeping CRT to remember Jesus and the Prophets’ warning against money?

All this to say, CRT is no more a danger to Christianity than any other ideology. Like any other, we ought to not just uncritically accept everything. Nor should we simplistically throw it all out. We should listen for insights that point out blind spots we may not have noticed. We should be willing to put CRT in conversation with Christian intellectual history. Of course, we should also recognize that the biggest opponents to CRT tend to be white evangelicals which might just prove the need for CRT since some of what they are saying is echoed by black pastors, theologians and teachers.

Can we be humble enough to admit CRT might have something to teach us?

The Christian and Critical Race Theory, Part 1: A Survey of Traditional Civil Rights Discourse - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/06/the...

Part 2 - Segregationist Discourse and Civil Rights Retrenchment - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/07/the...

Part 3 - A Bridge: Derrick Bell - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/07/the...

Part 4 - Alan Freeman and the Contribution of CLS - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/08/the...

Part 5 - A Misalignment of Frames: Integrationism - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/10/the...

Part 6 - A Misalignment of Frames: The New Right - https://thefrontporch.org/2020/11/the...
Profile Image for Younès Kamel.
10 reviews3 followers
May 12, 2021
This is a decent introduction to a dangerous and disingenuous school of thinking. In this book it is explicitly said that critical race theory, unlike other forms of scholarship, is entangled with activism. It is a school of thought seeking to change the racial status quo trough critical analysis. It does not ask whether society needs change, but HOW it should be changed. I am now convinced that CRT is a manifestation of confirmation bias. Look for racism everywhere until you finally find it. Beware, while reading this book, it is propaganda.
Profile Image for Lucas Dorminy.
33 reviews7 followers
August 2, 2021
It's certainly a thorough introduction to CRT. For this reason I gave it two stars.

However, the foundation of CRT seems to be purely anecdotal. CRT is what happens when you treat social theory the same way you treat the natural sciences. Courtroom verdicts under this theory are graded on a curve based on the narrative that the attorney uses to merit or demerit a judgment depending on one's social standing and cultural experience. If someone is a "minority," the social ills they may experience are entered into a narrative presented before a jury in order to lessen a potential sentence. Social experience becomes judicial capital. Empathy becomes a tool for determining a relative justice which could change depending on demographics and political trends.

The author admits to two wings of "Crits": Materialists and Discourse Analysts. The materialists are economic, racial activists focusing on economic differences, wealth, policy, and the legal side of the theory. The materialists are heavily influenced by Marx's view of economic oppression and class struggle (the author makes this link early on in the book). The discourse analysts focus on ideas/categories regarding race and racism, identity and intersectionality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. (the author's description). This side is most prevalent in the evangelical arena as well as the mainline talking heads on tv.

The practical side of CRT must be materialistic (and by extension atheistic) because the philosophical side is purely relativistic. Emotional experiences drive the moral imperative, and the moral imperative is founded upon a material worldview that ultimately boils life down to class/tribal warfare for the majority position in society. This theory has little to do with truth or justice and most certainly has nothing to do with Christ.
Profile Image for Addie A.
55 reviews39 followers
February 11, 2022
Honestly, I almost didn't post that I was reading this book on Goodreads. The topic is so divisive. But I realized there was a huge problem with that -- our society is unilaterally affirming or condemning CRT, most of us without ever studying it. It's irresponsible to chose a side without being informed, and everything I see from both sides of the media stinks of propaganda.

Add to this that I was assigned to this book in seminary, and the scandal grows. Evangelical Christians are the biggest critics (no pun intended) of CRT, most of them without even reading CRT or being able to truly describe its tenants. This was the point of the assignment -- that we as leaders in the church must actually engage with the ideas of the world before we condemn them, seeking theological implications and what we can learn from those outside the church walls.

I’ll update this review when I’ve finished reading and had my class discussion.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,661 followers
August 9, 2020
This is a decent primer on critical race theory that covers some of the major tenets of the field with some questions for readers and students. I don't think the book offers much in the way of an argument or a thesis, but it does point to some other readings where one might dig in further.
Profile Image for Aaron Viland.
15 reviews2 followers
June 27, 2021
Philosophically atrocious. Universals are out, atomistic justice is in.

Responses to critics and analysis of opponents is dismissive and only consists of question-begging.
Profile Image for Andrew Shaffer.
9 reviews2 followers
June 12, 2015
The book is written with a legal audience in mind, geared towards filling a gap in legal education by providing background and examples of how critical race theory (CRT) came to be and what it has accomplished. It is a good introduction to CRT, although the language used was sometimes problematic, as the authors referred to Native Americans as “Indians” (a term which, aside from being inaccurate, can cause confusion concerning which ‘Indians’ are being discussed – misnamed Native Americans or Indians from India). My overall impression of the book, however, was that it was written to be accessible to a wide-ranging audience (from activists and scholars to lay people) so perhaps some of this sloppiness can be forgiven.

Although the authors are decidedly in favor of CRT, the book did a surprisingly good job of giving time to the movement’s critics and explaining their positions as reasonable. In the end, most of the critiques were given along with counterarguments, however the authors often seemed to be straying too far into fairness even as they laid out a well-argued critique of the liberal notions of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’.

Perhaps the most useful part of the book came at the very end, in the Glossary of Terms, spanning from pages 141 to 156. This short section can be used alone as an introduction to some of the key concepts at work in CRT as well as a primer to some of the often mystifying language used by its proponents.

Each chapter includes discussion questions and scenarios that help to work through the ideas in the chapter and to consider them critically. Small groups or classrooms will likely find these questions extremely useful, and far more insightful than the typical discussion questions that authors present; the authors of this introduction want readers to engage with CRT, not just to accept its premises blindly. The book works well as an introduction, and it leaves the reader with enough of an appetite to continue searching – an appetite that each chapter responds to with lists of suggested readings.
Profile Image for Micyukcha.
106 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2021
I have to lean five stars because of the premise of the book. It has "an introduction" in the title. So depending on your personal intention, journey, experience, and education, your personal mileage may vary, but if you're looking for a CRT table of contents with some abstracts on theories, general timelines of key developments, foundational terminologies, and a list of more sources, this is a great launchpad. I wish there were similarly short-introductory books for more unfamiliar subjects.

For me, 'CRT, an Introduction' rounded a few gaps, put some formality to the rough themes and notions I may have gathered in random media and social media into a more connected theory, and helped me better understand where I stand in the different gradients and schools of critical race theory. The more realist materialistic POV (which focuses on material financial, profit, and labor matters), contrasted with the more abstract idealistic POV (which deals with things like words, symbols, stereotypes and is handled in a poststructuralist manner), is probably the bit/drift I got the most out of.

I thought Delgado did a pretty good job in 200 pages covering a number of minority groups, including outside the Black-white binary and some religious groups, and although a heavy US focus, had some global/international elements. There are more than enough crumbs for you to go on your own trail.

I grew to enjoy (although it jarred me at first and almost made me glance over them) the legal snippets spliced through the book. As a person who doesn't know much about law, the legal summaries and comments were a good piece of mental kindle and is nudging me to be a more informed citizen.
Profile Image for Pastor Matt.
179 reviews23 followers
September 7, 2018
Where to begin? Critical Race Theory (or CRT) draws from the worst segments of modern academia including postmodernism (although like many postmodernists, they are skeptical of meta narratives, so they attack them with...meta narratives!). If CRT becomes the academic norm and then the cultural norm, the First Amendment, as we know it, will be gone and even oppressed minorities will be subdivided into a near infinite regress of small tribes all vying for power.
Profile Image for Sara.
495 reviews6 followers
August 22, 2021
I picked this up on advice of a friend who recommended it when I noted I really wanted to learn more about CRT and what it was, given all of the hoopla about it locally over the summer.

She could not have recommended a better primer. Academic, yet accessible, the book focuses on CRT's origins, premises, and theories while also presenting critiques from both those within CRT (there are two major schools of thought within CRT) and those who are critical of CRT.

At no point is the book political or pushing to adopt a certain view. It lays out facts, arguments and counter arguments. It ends the chapters with discussion scenarios and questions.

Highly recommend for anyone who has (or will) engage in a conversation about CRT at any level.
Profile Image for Dan Waugh.
83 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2021
This certainly won't rise to the level of an actual review, but here are a few thoughts.
First, the book is a helpful introduction to the topic. I've hear CRT thrown around a lot recently, often in a dismissive tone (i.e. "oh, that's just CRT. You can't buy into that as a Christian!"). I didn't have a firm grasp on what CRT entailed, and feared those who dismissed it didn't either. So, this book was helpful.

But, second, the book feels dated. It was written twenty years ago as an intro, and so a lot of thought has been done and the movement has, no doubt evolved. So, I feel I have more reading to do on current trends and thought development. And, as an introduction, I didn't feel I had access to how the theory developed logically, just a chronicle of key assertions, etc.

On the whole, I think there are good insights intermingled with dangerous assumptions and errors. To accept or reject wholesale is equally problematic.
Profile Image for Peyton.
162 reviews17 followers
October 3, 2021
This is a concise and very readable introduction to a field of study that's increasingly under fire in the US, so it's valuable in that regard, especially since a lot of people seem confused about what exactly critical race theory is. I read the book in two halves for a class, and I found the first half much more informative and useful than the second. IMO much of the second was redundant or, reading the book 20 years later, no longer relevant or too speculative (which of course isn't entirely the authors' fault, since they couldn't see the future, but it does limit the usefulness of the book today.) The format of the book is great, with discussion questions and further reading at the end of each chapter, so I do recommend the first few chapters to anyone looking for more clarity about what CRT is. Yet it wasn't entirely clear to me who the audience of the book is supposed to be (not in terms of formal education, but in terms of current outlook on/understanding of race and racism in the US), which also limits its applicability, especially since discussions of CRT are so polarized today. The authors definitely deserve credit for making a field that's sometimes accused of being overly academic or elitist accessible, but the book also has important limitations IMO.
Profile Image for Leigh Jackson.
37 reviews2 followers
June 28, 2021
A good introduction to the concepts deployed by Critical Race Theory. Sufficient to show that (1) it doesn’t resemble the bogeyman Fox News has created for its latest culture war cudgel and (2) it is absolutely not being taught in K-12 education.

That said, it’s very basic—short on arguments for & against, and while there are “further readings” for each chapter, the text does little to make clear to the reader where to go for deeper analysis on particular issues.

Good for those new to the subject; if you have any background it will seem very simplistic.
Profile Image for Peter Eckstein.
54 reviews
July 21, 2021
With all the brouhaha about CRT I decided to go the the source. Very enlightening, in an accessible manner it explains what CRT is (a way to understand the intersection of law and the social construct of race) and what it is not (anti-white propaganda). It is a well worth it read.
1 review
March 25, 2021
Typical deconstructionist thinking

The theory only tears apart with no real solutions to build up. It’s theory built on unproven and changing assumptions. Smacks of Marxism.
14 reviews
June 14, 2021
(Rating: 4 stars - An important book, if for no other reason than to inform.)

A MUST READ for parents of school aged children. A MUST READ for educators. A MUST READ for Pastors.

Wow...big read to say the least!

I must admit that my struggle with this title review is primarily about reviewing the book and not the subject. Although, I'm not sure there is a difference. I decided to read the book to ensure that I have a proper understanding of what CRT is. I have two boys who are hearing much about this at school and are looking to me for my opinion and guidance. This theory is on the cusp of being introduced into the local school district where I live. I had to read this book.

Here are some of my thoughts and observations that I wrote down while I read:

I am absolutely appalled that people, who are obviously highly intelligent, could intentionally and willfully ascribe to this blatant form of prejudicial and biased wishful-thinking. Strong language, I know! In knowing the history of racial discrimination in North America, and understanding the direct and indirect consequences that this evil pattern of thinking results in, for anyone to desire a so-called flipping of the script from white-over-black (assuming this racial hierarchy is still true today as the authors submit) to black-over-white is unfathomable. I had to ask myself numerous times as I read this book "Isn't racism racism, regardless of how it is packaged"? But, this is what CRT represents.

CRT is about anti-black racism more than it is about any other subject. Period. The authors establish their specific and unique understanding of racism in the modern age quite speedily(Pg.3). There is no hesitation in stating that racism is systemic and impacts every aspect of today's culture. The are no exceptions made. The viewpoint that our euro-centric colonial North American culture is inherently racist and needs to be torn down is conspicuous. Although, they do not use such overtly injurious terms, and simply refer to this as "revisionist history". This component of the agenda of CRT is supported in the acknowledgement by the authors (pg. 25), that many "crits" (their slang, not mine) will research little-known historical examples of racism in order to perpetuate the goal of revising history to suit the overall goals of CRT as a movement.

I am disheartened at the apparent unwillingness to move on from the past. At numerous junctures, there are many references to past injustices, circa 1950's and earlier. These are represented as though to suggest that these types of horrors' are somehow still common and occurring today. I discovered, repeatedly, that there were no attempts made to offer any citations to support their assertions.

For example, on pages 12 and 13, there are some musings that blacks and Latinos are treated unfairly as it relates to opportunities for loans and housing. Similarly, the assertion is made that black and Latino lawyers "may attract suspicion while riding a commuter train or upon arriving at their offices earlier than usual." While I think it is reasonable to believe that this occurs, I'd suggest that it is not the norm. Either way, the absence of a source for reference is dubious and unfortunate. In my mind, this amounts to nothing more than baseless assertions intended to elicit a favorable response to their claims. It is about currying favor with like-minded individuals. Ultimately, these claim are merely anecdotal at best.

There are numerous sections included in each chapter that inform the reader about U.S. court cases that are relevant to that specific section. I remain unsure of my opinion here as, admittedly, I am no legal scholar. I also found myself wondering how many cases that were not mentioned, that would better inform a balanced perspective. I did however, find these case logs to be very interesting and I can understand how they may inform this type of thinking.

I was also concerned, and somewhat confused, with how the authors consistently bound the over-arching anti-black racism aspect of CRT to those of sexuality-based ideologies like the LGBTQ2+. They also made attempts (pg.3) to align themselves with the supposed oppression of religious philosophies such as Islam and the Arab culture. On page 7, there was a suggestion of greater legitimacy of CRT by referencing "fellow travelers and writers who are white" that count among their proponents. I received this as the equivalent of flying a flag that states "hey look, even white people support us"!

Overall, I found the book to be biased. However, I admit this is not surprising. I would have appreciated a more balanced perspective in terms of the possible damage that this type of theory may result in. There was some reference to the potential negative impacts of CRT (pgs. 154-160) but not nearly enough to offer the reader a better overall understanding.

In my mind, the intention of CRT is plainly evident. It is about changing the culture to be more favorable to those who are not white(pgs. 120). It is about power and control. It is NOT about making society as a whole better and more equal across the board. In short, CRT as a theory and as a movement, is racist and therefore incredibly dangerous.

There can be no other reasonable conclusion drawn.

NOTE: I do not support legislated suppression of CRT, nor any other fringe line of thinking. I believe this to be a very slippery slope. I DO NOT support CRT being incorporated into curriculum from K-12. Critical Race Theory is best left to be investigated and debated at the post-secondary level. I do support critical thinking and believe that when any subject is presented fairly and unbiased, logic and reasonability and common sense will always prevail.

Thanks for reading...
Profile Image for Mark Hiser.
533 reviews15 followers
June 30, 2021
Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Delgado and Stefancic, is a concise and readable book about a concept more than 40 years old and used to analyze legal questions.

Reading this book helped me better understand how Republican politicians are counting on Americans to remain ignorant about the theory so they can exploit to win votes and preserve power.

In the 1970s, Nixon’s campaign introduced the United States to the Southern Strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South. By appealing to racism, it was a strategy meant to frighten especially southern white male voters and convince them they would lose power and influence if they did not support the party and person who could keep at bay the threatening minority group.

In 2004, the Bush campaign and Republicans around the country used the same strategy to win votes by enacting laws and putting on the ballot issues and state constitutional amendments to prohibit the marriage of gays and lesbians.

In 2016, Trump and Republicans around the country once again used the strategy by focusing on Muslims and immigrants from beyond the Southern border.

Currently, Republicans are using the strategy by focusing again on LGBTQ+ persons (especially those who are transgender) and those who are non-white. I would guess that because LGBTQ+ persons are found in all races and ethnicities, Republican strategists think they expand their base by targeting this minority group and pitting minorities against one another while keeping the power and influence in the current dominant white, male, and straight group.

This politics of division exploits the fears and prejudices of the dominant group in the United States and seeks to preserve Republican power by targeting minorities and creating fear about loss of power and influence. It puts a group “in its place” and preserves the hierarchy that places white, straight, evangelical, males at the top. The strategy is based on the idea that if people are fearful and issues are on the ballot to alleviate that fear, voters will come out to vote and will support the party able to take away the terror.

To create that terror, Republicans have latched onto a scary sounding concept most people do not understand: critical race theory.

Though written in language accessible by the general population, the authors likely had in mind an audience of college students and professors. Each chapter includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, classroom exercises, and an extensive list of resources. These questions and exercises, however, might be ideal for a book group to consider.

This short book is one of several written by the husband-and-wife team of Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Delgado, born in 1939, is a legal scholar known for his work on civil rights, critical race theory, and hate speech. In fact, he is one of the early developers of CRT. Delgado is currently a professor of law at the University of Alabama. His wife, Jean Stefancic, is also a law professor at the University of Alabama. Her work focuses on law reform, social change, legal scholarship, and race and the law. She and her husband often co-teach and co-write. Both professors have won many awards for their work.

The third edition of Critical Race Theory briefly introduces readers to the theory, provides examples of it in practice, and summarizes critiques of it.

Delgado and Stefancic explain that Critical Race Theory was a response to observations in the 1970s that what seemed to be progress in civil rights was actually very slow progress that usually degraded over time. They noted that “there seemed to be no critical literature on race and the law. There was, of course, law that had a lot to do with the lives of some communities of color: poverty law, welfare law, criminal law, immigration law. But there was, seemingly, no language in which to embark on a race-based, systematic critique of legal reasoning and legal institutions themselves.”

Even though the theory has expanded in breadth and scope to include queer-crits, LatCrits, critical race feminists, and more, it is still essentially a framework for analyzing law; understanding the relationship among race, racism, and power; and developing means by which the country might better realize its ideals of equality. It “not only dares to treat race as central to the law and policy of the United States; it dares to look beyond the popular belief that getting rid of racism means simply getting rid of ignorance or encouraging everyone to “get along.”

The authors explain that while there is not one concrete agreed upon theory, most critical race theorists agree that: 1) Race is not biological but is a social construct that can change 2) Views about race have made their way into the fabric of the country, including its institutions and laws. Some of these codifications are obvious such as the Constitution’s Three/Fifths Compromise which declared enslaved persons as “less-than-human” and kept them from having the right to vote while allowing slave-holding states to gain more seats in the Houses of Representatives by “sort-of” including them in the census. 3) Racism is so woven into the fabric of the country that it is “normal” and often unrecognized. 4) Intersections of identity, such as Black and female, lead to diverse kinds of discrimination and result in varying success when that discrimination and injustice is addressed. 5) “Racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class whites (psychically) [so] large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.”

After a clearly written explanation of the theory and its history, Delgado and Stefancic include short chapters on topics related to CRT including revisionist history, liberalism, legal storytelling, and more.

Other chapters, which may be better suited for those of us who are not legal scholars, include a brief discussion of the Black-White binary by which other minority groups are judged, what it is to be white, where LGBTQ+ persons fit into the theory.

The book, which is short and quick to read, ends with a critique of the theory and a look at where it is today. Most importantly, however, it helps us understand why racism is so pervasive and calls us to become more aware of it and more involved in working to advance ideals of equality and justice.

A recommended book.
Profile Image for Manny.
290 reviews25 followers
June 11, 2022
An absolute waste of time. Complete garbage. This book is rife with what’s ifs and fake scenarios geared at eliciting outrage. It quotes other useless books by people who view the world through racial lenses. For the rest of the sane world that does not, we can tell it bogus. I read this book because the left had the talking points that CRT was not real and later that it was not being taught in schools. [sarcasm font] Surprisingly the media and the left (both the same) got it wrong.

Save your money, buy a pack of gum instead.
683 reviews9 followers
September 26, 2017

An Internet acquaintance posted a link to an online course on Critical Race Theory offered by Adrienne Keene at Brown University, and while I'm not in a position to formally enroll in, or even audit, a course, I thought that it might be both interesting and useful to read as many of the assigned books and articles as I could access.

One of the core texts is Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (foreword by Angela Harris), which I was able to download via a link in the course syllabus.

In their introduction, Delgado and Stefancic say: "The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, context, group- and self-interest, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law."

They go on to provide a brief history of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) movement and to identify the fore principles that most CRT scholars and activists would agree are the foundational ideas of CRT:

"First, that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—“normal science,” the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country. Second, most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascen- dancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material. ...

A third theme of critical race theory, the “social construction” thesis, holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations. Not objective, inherent, or fixed, they correspond to no biological or genetic reality; rather, races are categories that society invents, manipulates, or retires when convenient."

Other crucial concepts in CRT are differential racialization - the recognition that different minority groups are defined, treated and represented in different ways at different times by the dominant culture in response to its changing needs and interests - and intersectionality - a concept developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw, which holds that "No person has a single, easily stated, unitary identity."

Finally, CRT argues that people of colour offer unique perspectives and knowledge on issues with a racial component: "... the voice-of-color thesis holds that because of their different histories and experiences with oppression, black, Indian, Asian, and Latino/a writers and thinkers may be able to communicate to their white counterparts matters that the whites are unlikely to know."

The concepts outlined in the text are not new to anyone who has been at all engaged in anti-racism action or discourse in recent years, but I found that there was value in seeing these basic tenets organised in a logical fashion, and seeing how they flowed from and built upon each other to create a way of seeing race in North American society. As an activist who began thinking and reading about these matters in the late 60s, and who has tried to keep current with the many changes and refinements, advances and extensions of theory over the decades, a primer in modern race theory is also an excellent source for absorbing not just new theory, but new terminology, and a resource for scholarship in more specific areas of the field of study.

I'm very glad that I happened upon this text, and decided to read it. And I'm looking forward to further readings from the course syllabus (which can be found here: https://blogs.brown.edu/amst-2220j-s0...).

September 6, 2021
I can’t say how many times I thought to myself, “so that’s where that comes from!” while perusing these pages. Delgado provides an introduction to “critical theory”—now applied to race—and all its critical tentacles, including its main tenets, its historical roots, and its modern adaptations. It was truly clarifying to hear it all in one place, and I think it acts as an effective introduction to the topic.
As for my opinion of the book’s contents, I find it confirmed that biggest lies often look and sound really intuitive. From the perspective of a young evangelical christian, it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of the theory is clearly unbiblical, and—under the shiny veneer—nonsensical to boot.
I’ll take one of the simpler examples. The voice of color thesis would propose that one person’s ability to understand a fellow person’s racial plight is dependent on the listener’s skin color. The obvious application of this theory is that white people need to shut up and listen. But just because someone is white doesn’t mean that they are unable or unwilling to understand racism. In other words, understanding in these matters is not dependent on skin color or even directly on life experiences. It’s dependent on an individual’s empathy and discernment. White people are able to sufficiently understand injustice just as much as people of color, so far as they have the character and empathy required to listen sincerely, and the discernment required to think truthfully.
The allowance of this ability to white people is dangerous to proponents of CRT because, if white people are granted the ability to legitimately understand, then they are granted the ability to legitimately disagree too. That is to say, if white people are granted a legitimate position on the matter of racism, then they also have the ability to listen to a friend of color (or a well known author) and disagree with them flat-out. No doubt this would be bold in today’s culture climate.
Obviously I am a believer in objectivity, individuality, and the use of reason, which ideologies are unfortunately under attack from such authors as Delgado and the rest.
In any case, wisdom, sincerity, and grace are crucial for both participants in such weighty conversations. May we be quick to listen to one another with sincerity and empathy, and slow—yet faithful—to speak the truth in love, myself included.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robert Owen.
76 reviews18 followers
June 1, 2015
“Critical Race Theory” is basically a handbook of useful terms and concepts that does not make arguments so much as it outlines the contours of Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) orthodoxy for the benefit of those who are new to the discipline. As such the book does not attempt to make a compelling case for the rightness of CRT positions on various topics – it simply takes the rightness of those positions for granted and sets about to codify them. I have, therefore, left the book unrated for the same reason that I would not rate a dictionary, a seed catalog or the owner’s manual to my television and say, merely, that it was neatly typed, free of spelling errors and generally easy to follow.

None of this is to suggest that CRT itself is a reasonable or cogent model of race (or, as it latently attempts to be, of gender or sexual orientation or religious belief), as it certainly is not. It is essentially self-aggrandizing sophistry that deplores the marginalization of an unjustly homogenized black monolith by creating for itself a sufficiently depraved homogeneous white monolith to despise. There is more to it than this, of course, and some of it is actually quite valuable. Its insistence, for example, that the course of American history has been characterized by projects of racial oppression is legitimate and worth embracing. The notions of legal realism that it posits are also worthwhile, and deserve serious consideration. But for all of these and its other laudable insights, once one penetrates the meticulously footnoted echo chamber of its own mutually reinforced indignation, CRT's essential thesis is fundamentally one of an exceptional race whose limitless potential is tragically thwarted by the mindless mendacity of a detestable anti-racial “other”.

It is self-aggrandizing nonsense that now, with the publication of “Critical Race Theory”, comes with its own handbook.
Profile Image for James Fields.
145 reviews8 followers
January 30, 2022
I first heard about Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. A friend on Facebook asked my opinion on CRT and then a few days later a pastor at my church sent some of the leaders an email informing us about the rise of a new area of concern in Christianity and linked us to some articles as resources in case it came up.

I found this an interesting intro to the topic. Here's this big thing we've never heard of before, but it's dangerous... make sure you read these resources so you know how to reply!

I did a little digging at the time and found that there were some loud Evangelical voices condemning it, but no one was talking positively about it the Christian circles, so it was a very strange dynamic. I put it in my mind that I would look into this more later.

When I did read this book a year later, I found that the Evangelical base condemning CRT has no idea what they're talking about. They've been riled up by a few leaders they trust and sent out like bloodhounds to seek and devour all that they think is "CRT." CRT does not resemble in the least what is being condemned. I write more about this in a longer review here as well as links to more resources from both sides of the debate.

Well, this has become more a review of the current political affairs than it has this book. To finish off: this book is well written and advanced in content. A strong understanding of American History and some knowledge of legal case studies would be highly encouraged before attempting a read of this book.

To see more reviews check out my blog: This Sporadic Life
Profile Image for Brandon.
366 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2021
4 stars, as in the book successfully does what it seeks to do, which is explain at an introductory level what CRT is.

I also appreciated the consistent tone of objectivity. It even has a chapter acknowledging criticisms of CRT.

But I would say I can see where some people are troubled by CRT. Some statements in the book could be taken a couple of different ways. When Delgado and Stefancic say racism is normal to life and not an exception, I see how this could be interpreted as saying every white person is racist. When Delgado and Stefancic say white people are not "innocent" in benefiting from a system that has made it easier for whites to succeed than blacks, I see how someone could read that as teaching 'white guilt.'

In my experience, CRT scholars are not trying to say all whites are racist or that whites should have white guilt, but some of the things they say certainly could be interpreted that way.

As a Christian, I get my marching orders from the Bible. I see some points of contact between CRT concerns and Christianity's concerns. But I would need to spend a lot more time in CRT literature to examine that thought more.

But as an introductory text to a philosophy I have not studied before, this was quite good.
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