port of harlem magazine
Mosaic Theater
A Lesson on Critical Race Theory
Dec 30 – Jan 12, 2022
janel george

Principles of the CRT Practice 

In September 2020, President Trump issued an executive order excluding from federal contracts any diversity and inclusion training interpreted as containing “Divisive Concepts,” “Race or Sex Stereotyping,” and “Race or Sex Scapegoating.” Among the content considered “divisive” is Critical Race Theory (CRT).

In response, the African American Policy Forum, led by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, launched the #TruthBeTold campaign to expose the harm that the order poses. Reports indicate that over 300 diversity and inclusion trainings have been canceled as a result of the order. And over 120 civil rights organizations and allies signed a letter condemning the executive order.

(President Biden signed an executive order January 20, 2021 reversing Trump’s order. See also from our Archives: Biden’s Suspension of 1776 Commission Allows Boosts to 1619 Project)

Education and CRT

Segregated schooling is a particularly profound and timely demonstration of the persistence of systemic racism in education. For example, Brown is often couched in terms of American exceptionalism. But Gloria Ladson-Billings and other CRT originators in the field of education recognize that Brown was the culmination of over a century of legal challenges to segregated schooling and second-class citizenship and far from a natural occurrence or inevitable result of racial progress.

The late Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell, in Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest-Convergence Dilemma, noted that the Fourteenth Amendment alone could not effectively promote racial equality for Black people where such a remedy threatened the superior social status of wealthy white people. Further, Bell noted that Brown was decided the way it was because of what he termed “interest convergence,” which is the recognition that the interests of Black people in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of white people.

CRT and a Call to Action for Civil Rights Lawyers

The example of application of CRT to education in the case of Milliken illustrates how CRT recognizes the role of the law in perpetuating racial inequality. Employing a CRT framework necessitates interrogation of systems and structures in which we function. The Milliken example also implicates the impact of discriminatory housing policies and school financing systems in perpetuating racially isolated and under-resourced schools in Detroit and recognizes that education policy does not operate in a vacuum.

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Note: The material contained herein should not be construed as the position of the ABA or CRSJ unless the ABA House of Delegates or the CRSJ Council has adopted it.

See Also: Critical Race Theory and The Apostles of Forgetfulness

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