Rebecca Mattis: Critical Race Theory Uses Race As A Proxy For Major Problems
This commentary is from Rebecca Mattis, a former member of the Rutland Board of Aldermen.
In the national conversation (i.e. the frustrating exercise of talking about the past and denigrating each other) on race, critical race theory has exploded.
Critical Race Theory is an offshoot of Critical Theory, which has its roots in Marxism and Postmodernism. Critical race theory began in legal studies in the 1970s and 1980s as a way of looking at the relationships between race, law, and power – a useful exercise, especially since the era’s victories civil rights have not erased the racial disparities in American life.
Critical race theorists refer to the CRT not just as a framework but as a movement for social change. This movement has spread far beyond the academic sphere, in all cultural drivers (education, media, religion, arts, business, etc.) and in the work of social justice and the fight against racism.
Like any other movement, CRT does not have a simple definition. Even so, he has distinct principles that can be agreed upon by both his supporters and his antagonists.
First, CRT views racism as the axis of American life, the water in which we swim.
Second, the CRT considers racism to be beneficial to all white people and that it is perpetuated by them either unconsciously or through their participation in society.
Third, while the CRT recognizes that race is socially constructed, it also calls for a race-conscious society, in which people view themselves in terms of belonging to a racial group, rather than through the prism. individualism or universalism. Throughout all of this, and fundamental to it, is the assumption that power is the main force within culture and human interaction.
Critical race theory as an academic perspective is interesting because any criticism of the status quo has to be interesting. However, thanks to his postmodern roots, he is so radically skeptical of what we call knowledge that he denies empiricism itself. John Calmore, a prominent critical race theorist, wrote that the CRT “rejects the traditional precepts that implore writing and studying as a detached observer whose work is supposedly objective, neutral and balanced”, calling these precepts of “white world”. ”
He is not the only one. The idea is well established in CRT-informed activism that values such as rational thinking and a focus on data are uniquely white qualities.
I was raised from a young age to believe in fairness and to speak out against racism and all forms of injustice where I saw it (and see it for what it was). Throughout my life I have been influenced by people for whom justice is a simple matter of implementing good social policy. I now know it’s not that easy – and this way I have some agreement with the CRT that even best-intention policies can have bad results when put in place. (although the CRT attributes this failure to inherent racism, rather than good intentions gone wrong).
My sense of justice, however, compels me to oppose critical race theory in all its forms, as it is both objectively incorrect and morally objectionable as a driver of public policy.
If we are to understand the ills of society and try to alleviate them, we must be able to use science, facts, data and evidence to set and evaluate goals. We have to do it objectively, or at least as objectively as possible. CRT does the opposite. Put aside for the moment CRT’s glaring mistake of equating objective scholarship with whiteness. By making bias a virtue, CRT turns into snake oil, a double evil. He fails to treat the disease and can cause his own illness.
The CRT does not correct bad policies because it refuses to investigate possible causes of racial disparities other than “systemic racism”, which it defines only as “what causes racial disparities”. In other words, by using race as a proxy for a number of specific social realities (family structure, cultural attitudes, health, poverty, violence, education, etc.), it fails to shed light on these realities in order to that we can understand them and work within our understanding to promote effective policies and social norms.
CRT teaches people (of all ages) that apart from activism, people of color have no agency and people of pallor have no morals. By promoting this limiting, racialized and radicalized view of people and society, it is intended to take us down very dark paths.
As an ideology, I find the CRT deeply cynical and inhuman. Power is something, but it is not all. Social and community life is based on human connection, service, reciprocity and empathy, and is not just a struggle for status. I can never correctly assume what someone’s race means to them, and therefore to me being race conscious is nonsense.
Moreover, the current push by the CRT to promote a white racial identity for whites is frankly terrifying. Nothing good can come of it. Racism is not of benefit to this nation or to anyone in it.
Finally, while racism is indeed a deep stain on America, it is not America. I believe Langston Hughes’ words: “America was never America to me / And yet I swear this oath / America will be!” And America will, but not if the CRT succeeds.