Discuss the major concepts, critiques, and themes of Critical Race Theory and Cross’s stages of black identity. Why is it an appropriate framework for the study? Why does race matter when looking at the factors of success, failure, and identity among black men?
Critical Race Theory
Dr. Cornell West cites Critical Race Theory as “the most exciting development in contemporary legal studies…created primarily by progressive intellectuals of color—(CRT) compels us to confront critically the most explosive issue in American civilization” (West, 1995). The issue he speaks of is the significance and involvement of law in the preservation and perpetuation of white supremacy. West (1995), adds that “Critical Race Theory is an intellectual movement that is both particular to our postmodern (and conservative) times and part of a long tradition of human resistance and liberation.” As a movement and framework, CRT highlights the politics associated with the anguish and distress many have had to endure under the guise of justice, law, or policy. Lastly, Dr. West (1995) posits that “Critical Race Theory is a gasp of emancipatory hope that law can serve liberation rather than domination.”
In its inception, Critical Race Theory has its beginnings in Critical Legal Studies, which fundamentally believed “that it is politically meaningful to content the terrain and terms of dominant legal discourse” (Crenshaw, Gotunda, Peller, & Thomas, p. xxii). Critical Legal Studies, in essence, examines power and the exertion of power played out in law and policy creation and defense. As a form of scholarship, it has no set doctrine or methodology, but does unify two common interest: the interest and result of white supremacy and the link between law and racial power. In conjunction with this notion, scholarship (xii)–“the formal production, identification, and organization of what will be called “knowledge”—is inevitably political.” CRT rejects that scholarship can be or should be “neutral or objective”, as race operates in the social fabric of our country and must be examined to create solutions to problems of oppression, marginalization, and racist policy creation.
The CRT movement “is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.” (Delgado, Stefancic, 2012) I believe all participants in this study have encountered the law and institutions that are impacted and relegated by the law of the land. Thus, they all have encountered racism and/or institutionalized modes of oppression. This will be further explained in the context of education and access to resources later in this chapter, which will also be conveyed in outlining the history of education for African Americans.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) examines the ways that race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, education, religion, and sexual orientation interact with, and have an impact on the success of underprepared, ethnically diverse students in college (Barbatis, 2010). Callahan (2004) suggests that critical theory is “inherently emotional; emotions are entwined with the systems and structures that inform our daily lives” (p. 77). The strength of critical theory “lies in its critique of existing economic and social structures and resultant power dynamics” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 253). The critical theoretical perspective seeks to contest mainstream practices and explore democratic strategies and interventions that can shift relations of power and alter meaning (Darder et al., 2009). A primary goal of critical theorists is to transform the inequalities and injustices inherent in current social systems and structures (McLaren, 1994). Carspecken (1996) characterizes critical theorists as persons who question the nature of society and seek change in the form of the empowerment or emancipation of particular groups. McLaren and Giarelli (1995) recognizes that critical theorists see a need and a basis for forming and understanding hierarchies of contexts and types of knowledge and evaluating the possibilities in contributing to progressive material and symbolic emancipation.
Derrick Bell and CRT
While examining the lived experiences of African American males ages 18-65, Critical Race Theory provides the lens to view and dissect these experiences for several reasons. To begin with, Critical Race Theory was birthed out of the civil rights movements and radical feminism (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012). Derrick Bell (1995) speaks to what CRT is, stating that “critical race theory is a body of legal scholarship…a majority whose members are both existentially people of color and ideologically committed to the struggle against racism, particularly as institutionalized in and by law (p.34). Derrick Bell composed two essays which are believed to lay the groundwork for the development of Critical Race Theory: “Serving Two Masters” and “The Interest-Convergence Dilemma” (Gotanda, et al., 1995). Notably, Bell (1995) “was one of the first African-Americans to be tenured at Harvard Law School (p. 1). “Serving Two Masters” (1974) is Bell’s critique of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, whereby he delves into the impact he feels the decision would have on the black community. He states early in the writing that “most courts have come to construe Brown v Board of Education as mandating “equal educational opportunities” through school desegregation plans aimed at achieving racial balance, whether or not those plans will improve the education received by the children affected (p.5) Who then is responsible for the growing inequities? Bell goes on to question the “lawyer-client” relationship, as they are left to defend clients, which in turn impacts policy creation that does not always have the best interest or the acquisition of knowledge at the highest level possible for students of color in mind.
Specific to Brown v. Board of Education and the barriers unrecognized by civil rights lawyers, he states “new barriers have arisen—inflation makes the attainment of racial balance more expensive, the growth of black populations in urban areas renders it more difficult, an increasing number of social science studies question the validity of its educational assumptions (p.5). As argued by Bell, the dismissal of “new barriers” and obstacles as irrelevant limits the ability to learn from the past and effectively address the needs of the present and future. This conclusion was drawn after it was shown that desegregation was not the end of racial imbalance. Critical race theory takes the step to examine barriers that may exist specific to the effect something has on marginalized people and institutions, which is seen in Bell’s early work which formed the theory. Racial separation was the result of many cases that were tried while trying to implement Brown. “Providing unequal and inadequate school resources and excluding black parents from meaningful participation in school policymaking” proved to damage the possibilities of better for black children (Bell, 1974). Issues of race in education are more complex and require that work be done on multiple levels. Racial subordination, as proven in the arguments made by Bell, should be avoided and could be a possibility “if the creative energies of the civil rights litigation groups could be brought into line with the needs and desires of their clients” (Bell, 1974). Bell cites the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, which neither for the separatists or the intergrationalist but for those unable to choose and those marginalized. Du Bois wrote (1935):
The Negro needs neither segregated schools nor mixed schools. What he needs is Education. What he must remember is that there is no magic, either in mixed schools or in segregated schools. A mixed school with poor and unsympathetic teachers, with hostile public opinion, and no teaching of truth concerning black folk, is bad. A segregated school with ignorant placeholders, inadequate equipment, poor salaries, and wretched housing, is equally bad. Other things being equal, the mixed school is the broader, more natural basis for the education of all youth. It gives wider contacts; it inspires greater self-confidence; and suppresses the inferiority complex. But other things seldom are equal, and in that case, Sympathy, Knowledge, and Truth, outweigh all that the mixed school can offer (p. 335)
Bell wrote of Interest convergence, which also plays a key role and is a pillar in the early development of Critical Race Theory. Interest convergence is a concept the shows the interplay of power and inferiority in our country. Patience Crowder (2014) posits “the interest convergence theory holds that where there are power dynamics and divergent interests between parties with unequal bargaining power, the subordinate party’s interests will not advance unless that interest does not offend the status quo of the majority party” (p. 1). The interests at play were that of elite whites and Black Americans in the case of Brown v. Board. Bell’s was convincing in establishing that the decision was made based on the convergence of these two groups, albeit for different reasoning. He identified the interest of white elites as : “wanting to stem the flow of communism in the black community; protecting America’s reputation regarding human rights throughout the world; promoting the industrialization of the American South” (Bell, 1974). In short, the interest of Black Americans was in obtaining equal access to quality K-12 public schools through eradicating the systems of oppression and segregation that kept black students from attending white school (1974).
Some argued that Brown v. Board would be irrelevant as it played out in future years. Bell cites the work of Herbert Wechsler, a legal scholar from Columbia Law school, who was critical of the decision and disappointed at its lack of foresight. With regards to the interest of the state and ….
CRT treats race as a social construct. Many CRT scholars blend race and ethnicity and shun the Black-White binary that has characterized American racial discourse (Closson, 2010). The aim of critical race theorists is to make visible structures of inequity that are often hidden (Ross, 2009; Matsuda, Lawrence, Delgado, & Crenshaw, 1993). Critical race theorists, according to Closson (2010), are suggesting that “race and racism are seldom central to an analysis of the lack of success and/or achievement of African Americans” (p. 264). The critical lens for African American male perspective today provides…
Moreover, the struggle against racism is well documented in studies that are in the framework of critical race theory. Race, either as a social construct or as a biological factor, can be further explained through the lens of CRT, and is a major tenet or themes of its origin. To further explain, critical race theory explained within the following themes and tenets: (I do not think I will expound on all 10 themes)
- Race is a social construct, not a biological phenomenon. It is not rooted in biology or genetics but rather is a product of social contexts and social organization.
- Racism is permanent and imbedded into American culture.
- Whiteness is a property right.
- Racial Identity is based on the racial stratification system, especially in the Unites States.
- Interest convergence
- Critique of Liberalism
- Social Justice
- Counter Story Telling
- Experiential Knowledge
Race is a Social Construct
Critical Race Theory posits that race is a social construct. According to Delgado and Stefanic (2012), races are “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” (p. 8). Race is a divisive measure used by some to separate people, most likely for the acquisition of power and the further marginalization and subservience of groups. To deem one “less than” adds a false sense of elitism and power to the oppressor. Critical scholars are interested in “the ways the dominant society racializes different minority groups at different times, in response to shifting needs such as the labor market” (p.9). Race is adopted by many as a part of modern culture, despite the science claims of race not having a biological basis. We are a world comprised of social elements, “not only human beings, but also the social relations and structures that are the products of human interaction” (Carter, 2001). These social factors have led to the emotion driven ideals that perpetuate hate and marginalization. Racism is imbedded into the fabric of our country and all of the major entities within it. In the United States, based on race, “there are profound and stubbornly persistent…differences in socioeconomic status, educational and occupational status, wealth, and political power” (Smedley, 2005).
Racism is Permanent
The “genius” behind critical race theory told the story best in Faces at the Bottom of the Well (1993), which is subtitled ‘The Permanence of Racism.’ Derrick Bell states that “racism is an integral, permanent, and indestructible component of this society.” (p.xi) He challenges black people to rethink the role slavery has played on our present day conditions and examine the way we view the barriers it has posed. As opposed to barriers and insurmountable obstacles, we should view it as:
“ a legacy of enlightenment from our enslaved forebears reminding us that if they [ancestors] survived the ultimate form of racism, we and those whites who stand with us can at least view racial oppression in its many contemporary forms without underestimating its critical importance and likely permanent status in this country” (p.12).
Viewing racism as a mainstay changes the way it is approached, giving people of color a mode of thinking that challenges racism from a position of strategy, not deficit. Men of color, and specifically African American men, are up against systemic and institutional racism on a daily basis. Ta-Nehisi Coates (2008) states that “race is the child of racism, not the father” (p. 7). These concepts do not provide the “normal” sense of hopelessness that racism and its ideals can stir up in a man. But it provides the motivation to continue to apply equal amounts of power and sinew in maneuvering in the institutions that it embodies. Pessimism with persistence is the lens that some view the landscape of racism through, allowing the for the recognition of the perils racism has created while fueling the desire to navigate spaces where the impediments of racism exist with hopes of bringing awareness and equity.
White is a Property Right
CRT scholar Cheryl Harris suggests that whiteness is best thought of as a form of property. This notion was heavily validated in the experiences of her grandmother, which are outlined in the text ‘Whiteness as Property’ (1993). Her family has ancestral roots in Mississippi, but would follow many others North during the Great Migration. The grandmother was fair of skin, with straight hair and prominent and curved features. This would earn her a “pass” as a white woman. At the time, she worked at a prestigious department store that was known for having an all-white staff. Every day, she would ride the bus from the South Side to her place of work, which required her to wear many masks. Cheryl’s grandmother experienced both worlds, being white and black in her daily experiences. At work, she would mask her “black side,” blending into the environment she worked, while remaining guarded against allowing others to know her both on the surface or intimately. “That place—where white supremacy and economic domination meet—was unknown turf to her white co-workers” (p.276). As they occupied these “worlds,” they were equally ignorant to the benefits they were afforded and the tribulations others incurred based upon their race and economic standing. The “passing” as white that Harris outlines “is related to the historical and continuing pattern of white racial domination and economic exploitation, which has invested passing with a certain economic logic” (p.277). Her story is a “valorization of whiteness as treasured property” in a system that supports its foundation as a system based upon a racial caste system.
Harris goes one to further explain the relationship between race, property and the law, outlining how practices in law and property are infused with race (1993). To do so, she begins by providing context to the origin of property rights in America. She states that “the origins of property rights in the United States are rooted in racial domination” (p.277). In the early years of our country, practices were carried out with the intent of marginalization and segregation for economic interest. Not only was race used to oppress but it was the “interaction between conceptions of race and property which played a critical role in establishing and maintaining racial and economic subordination” (p.277). Slavery, Jim Crow, and discriminatory practices conducted over time throughout the country have perpetuated Blacks a means to increase one’s wealth and subjecting them to be deemed property. This lends to the notion of whiteness as property, as created by the subjugation of Blacks for the advancement and gain of Whites, their identity, and their property. “The construction of white identity and the ideology of racial hierarchy were intimately tied to the evolution and expansion of the system of chattel slavery” (p. 278). Identity and privilege became paramount to survival and maintenance of superiority. “White identity and whiteness were sources of privilege and protection; their absence meant being the object of property” (p.279).
Whiteness as property is further defined as Harris delves deeper into meaning and its relation to law. She states that “whiteness—the right to white identity as embraced by the law—is property if by “property” one means all of a person’s legal rights” (p.280). Whiteness has benefits that are seen economically and legally, which become covetously treated as a valuable prize of sorts, requiring proof of belonging to reap the benefits and privileges. There are other theories of property and its definition that support the claims of whiteness as property. The “bottom theory” of property suggests that “the “natural” character of property is derivative of custom, contrary to the notion that property is the product of a delegation of sovereign power” (p.280). The notion has been challenged by many theorist. The follow up question that has to be asked is by “whose custom?” (p.280) The customs of people of color in our country have been negated, minimalized, and written off, in an effort to have “citizens” assimilate to the ways of colonizers.
Jeremy Bentham (1978) states, “property is nothing but the basis of expectation, consisting in an established expectation, in the persuasion of being able to draw such and such advantage from the thing possessed” (p.51). This is an important notion to solidify the law and its intention to protect rights, property, and expectations. “The difficulty lies not in identifying expectations as a part of property but, rather, in distinguishing which expectations are reasonable and therefore merit the protection of the law as property” (p.280). The American society is set up with racial subordination and stratification as its foundation, making the expectation white privilege. Harris posits “when the law recognizes, either implicitly or explicitly, the settled expectations of whites built on the privileges and benefits produced by white supremacy, it acknowledges and reinforces a property interest in whiteness that reproduces black subordination” (p.281). The exclusion of others is a dominant factor and “privilege” of being white. Subordination of others and the perpetuation of a hierarchal system is what drives exclusion and racist practices. “Whiteness is large part has been characterized not buy an inherent unifying characteristic but by the exclusion of others deemed to be “not white” (p.283). Legally, whiteness was protected just as the right of property had been.
Racial identity by way of social interactions has led to privilege, power, and further exclusion. The law made provisions to further support whiteness as power by ruling on the side of the “one drop rule.” The mere presence of black blood would change one’s identity. The support of this and its perpetuation over time suggests that to be white is a sign of purity or non-contamination (p.283). This was further documented by Neil Gotanda in ‘A Critique of “Our Constitution is Color-Blind” written in 1991. Gotanda calls the law’s reliance on bounded, objective, and scientific definitions of race “historical-race” (p.257). He posits that a color blind interpretation of the constitution upholds the status quo of whites politically, economically, and socially. The privilege of being white along with the benefits associated with the convergence of identity, privilege, and the interpretation of the law was noted by W.E.B. DuBois in a excerpt from Black Reconstruction (1976). He cites that whites:
“…were given public deference…because they were white. They were admitted freely with all classes of white people, to public functions, to public parks…The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent on their votes, treated then with…leniency…Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect on their personal treatment…White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools” (p. 700-701).
The identity of all other races, and primarily Black people, became further devalued, discredited, and self-deprecating in the eyes of the law and socially in society. “The effect of protecting whiteness at law was to devalue those who were not white by coercing them to deny their identity in order to survive” (p.285). In modern times, we see this playing out and continues to be a fight for preservation on one hand for whites and a fight for self-definition and humanization for people of color.
Counteracting the Master Script
CRT has its origins and beginnings in the world of law and policy creation. The intent and tenets of Critical Race Theory are portable when analyzing and discussing the lives of black men. Their narratives add value and context to the effects that institutional racism on their personal development, their acquisition of resources, and their view of themselves in relation to their position in American culture and its society. Race is omnipresent in every facet of life. Toni Morrison argues that race is always present in every social configuring of our lives (1992).
Many continue to suggest that race is a social construct. **refer to ‘foundations’ book’.
Critical Race Theory acknowledges and further expounds upon the notion that “racism is ingrained in the fabric of the American society as well as in education (Ladson-Billing, 1999). The struggle for identity continues to be a challenge for black men in America. The origins of this practices enacted on a daily basis. W. E. B. Dubois encapsulated the peril and dissonance black people experience with his theory of “double consciousness.” Du Bois argues that the color line creates different processes of self-formation among racializing and racialized groups (Lemert 1994 ; Rawls 2000). He posits in The Souls of Black Folks (1903) the following:
A sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American
world—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see
himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this
double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes
of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused
contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body (DuBois 1903, p.2).
Ta-Nehisi Coates alludes to this double consciousness in Between The World and Me (2008). In his narration, the author attempts to show the racial divide that is in existent in the U.S. Prolonging from the early history of America when black people were enslaved to the current times in which blacks are under perpetual risk and investigation, the white community have constantly repudiated the humanity of black people in order to uphold its specious “Dream.”(Coates, 2015). Coates makes the distinction that racism is the source of race and not vice versa. He proposes that racism is a construct to which totalitarianism is accredited but in actuality is indistinct. The whites are not actually white but instead, they believe that they are white because it provides them with privilege and supremacy. Hence, his view of racism is that it is so insidious since the individuals that think they are white also do not the reason they are racists. Rather, they claim that inequalities in treatment by police, education and wealth are variances that just occur like any other natural forces other than definite laws or ideologies (Coates, 2015). Therefore, racism is mainly imposed through the suppression and despoliation of the black people.
The Critical Race Theory draws from and extends a wide base in women’s studies, ethnic studies, history, sociology, and law. Even though the theory was originally used in legal studies extensively, its application has been expanded to such as areas as education (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). Solorzanov & Yosso (2000) introduce some of the concepts of the Critical Race Theory to their discussion about campus racial climate as the theory represents a paradigm shift in the extant discourse regarding racism and race in education. The authors define micro-aggressions as subtle insults directed toward black people often involuntarily expressed in visual, non-verbal or verbal form.
Delgado & Stefancic (2017) describe micro-aggressions as the dispiriting, stunning and sudden transactions that ruin the days of oppressed people. The micro-aggressions include insignificant acts of racism that involuntarily or knowingly committed and are founded on the assumptions regarding sexual matters that are adapted from cultural heritage. Solorzanov & Yosso (2000) reveal that racial micro-aggressions are present in both collegiate environments and social spaces. African American students experience and react to racial-micro-aggressions which also have a destructive effect on the racial climate of campuses. Even though micro-aggressions are pervasive, they are hardly investigated (Solorzanov & Yosso, 2000). The reason for lack of investigation may be the innocuous form in which the micro-aggressions occur which hinder the attachment of significance to such acts.
Concepts of Critical Race Theory
The main concepts of Critical Race Theory are the idea that race is ordinary, the notion of an interest convergence, the social construction of race, the notion of story-telling and counter-storytelling and the idea that whites are recipients of civil rights legislation.
The idea that race is ordinary
The construct that race supports the construct that general ethos of majority culture encourages and publicizes meritocracy and color-blindness. Color blindness and meritocracy are communally entwined and function to downgrade some communes of individuals, mainly black people (Taylor et al., 2009). The two elements of the serve the essential purposes of permitting white people to feel deliberately irresponsible for the difficulties experienced by black people on a regular basis and maintaining the stronghold and powers of the whites in the community (Stovall, 2013). Color-blindness legitimizes racism’s requisite for an “other” so as to thrive and retain is power with the community.
White supremacy and racism are not uncharacteristic, insofar as autocrats use “others” so as to preserve their exclusive control and say that they are unbiased. Further examination renounces this untrue sense of lack of biases (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). Meritocracy allows the powerful to have a pure conscience and feel good for having the largest share of power and wealth in the community. The empowered retain retail power and only surrender portions of it when they are sure that they will not lose anything (Hartley, 2009). Moreover, the powerful get commendations and platitudes when they decide to distribute parts of their influence to the less powerful.
The notion of an interest convergence
The notion of an interest convergence states that white people will permit and back up racial justice to the degree that there is something constructive in it for them or a merging between the interests of the black people and white people (Hartley, 2009). Under this notion, common sense principles are developed by the majority according to the status quo. The principles that are established by the majority often subjugate the minority groups. According to Howard & Navarro (2016), Critical Race Theory places emphasis on informing the public how some stories act and function to hush and manipulate certain groups of cultures and individuals, particularly people of color. At the same time, the theory does the legitimizing and development of the white people who now maintain or get more influence through these stories.
A demonstrative and imperative instance of interest convergence can be found in Bell’s (1992) book titled Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Persistence of Racism. In the example, a parable is told of alien visiting the US with the wish of trading all of the black people in the U.S with a limitless source of energy, a magical chemical for cleansing waters and skies and enough gold to repay the national debt. The referendum to accept the aliens’ offer is passed after two weeks of deliberation (Bell, 1992). In the parable, the white people had the influence to pass the referendum and it was in their best interest for them to pass it so as to obtain the securities offered by the aliens.
The social construction of race
The social construction of race has been done to the detriment of black people. The affirmation that race is a social construct has been one of the chief issues of the Critical Race Theory. The social construction of race is largely evident in the history of the U.S (Anyon, 2009). An example of socially constructing race is how minority groups were deprived of social security and debarred from the unions in 1935. The Congress had passed two laws which sheltered white workers but exempted non-white employees (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002). The Wagner Act did not forbid labor unions from racial discrimination but protects the rights of workers while the Social Security Act excluded domestic servants and agricultural workers who were majorly Asian, Mexican, and African American from getting old-age insurance.
Another example of social construction of race is the Operation Wetback and Bracero Program during the engagement of the U.S in the Second World War in 1942 (Anyon,2009). The U.S and Mexico developed the Bracero Program to satisfy the labor demands or producing food for U.S war allies and the U.S armed forces. This program led to an approximated 4-5 Mexicans migrating to the U.S for work (Howard & Navarro, 2016). However, after the end of the Second World War, the Mexicans were deported back to their country. The Operation Wetback was created as part of these deportations. The operation was able to deport about one million illegitimate immigrants, focusing on Mexicans.
The notion of story-telling and counter-storytelling
The notion of storytelling emanates from its descriptive, persuasive and influential capability to unlearn principles that are generally believed to be factual. The Critical Race Theory terms this notion storytelling and counter-storytelling (Stovall, 2013). This contradiction of storytelling and counter-storytelling is founded upon the conviction that schools are unbiased spaces that treat all people in a just manner; nevertheless, close investigation disproves this: simply evaluating graduation rates achieves this (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002). Most school curricular continues to be established around conventional middle-class, white values. There is a continuously widening gap of the racial accomplishment gap as seen from the separation of black student’s achievement and Anglo-American student’s achievement.
Under the pretext of conventional curriculum, certain groups of students become discriminated the syllabus and praxis that are undemocratic and insensitive. Hackman & Rauscher (2004) mention that:
“[…] often under-funded […] mandates across the nation leave many educators wondering how best to serve their students, particularly those students who do not fit into the mainstream [author’s emphasis] profile or curriculum. In today’s schools, the needs of students with disabilities and members of other marginalized groups often go unmet, and as such, more inclusive educational approaches need to be adopted to ensure that all students have access to a solid education.” (p. 114)
The counter-storytelling tenet of the Critical Race Theory is a useful instrument given the curricular discrimination in the American education system (Hartley, 2009). In the absence of Critical Race Theory’s counter-storytelling, the actual stories would not be publicly declared, and possibly the world would perceive and believe that the curricular promotes equality and justice.
The idea that whites are recipients of civil rights legislation
This notion proposes that white people have irrefutably been the recipients of civil rights laws and that affirmative action best serves them. Supporting this claim, Delgado (2009) requests that:
“[…] we should demystify, interrogate, and destabilize affirmative action. The program was designed by others to promote their purposes, not ours” (p. 111).
In a similar thought, the historical case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was unconsciously an eventual triumph for white people. The case ultimately limited the equality for Black people rather than expanding it (Jennings & Marvin, 2005). The decision of the case was unsuccessful in enhancing the education of black people since it embodied a constricting instead of an extensive perception of equality. What was required was a visualization of education that defied the central structure of schools that replicated the same undemocratic social orders that occurred in the community (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). That the decision made in the case was not able to disorder these structures is evinced in the persisting inequalities in America’s educational system. It is apparent that the white people actually are the receivers of civil rights lawmaking from this case.
Delgado (2009) distressingly described why the concepts of Critical Race Theory are crucially significant given the existing state of affairs of American education. Intervening on behalf of non-white students in American educational institutions and the concepts of the Critical Race Theory, Delgado mentions that he is expected to tell children that if they work hard in their academics and avoid mischief, they can become law professors like him. Nevertheless, that is not necessarily probable. The children in American schools countrywide need to be able to struggle sincerely to become whoever they want to become without worrying about functioning in a scheme that discriminates them on the basis socially-constructed race and the color of their skin.
Critiques of Critical Race Theory
The major critics of Critical Race Theory including Alex Kozinski and Richard Posner mostly have a problem with its underpinnings in postmodernism, and dependence on social constructionism, moral relativism as well as other concepts antagonistic to classical liberalism (Subotnik, 1997). For instance, Richard Posner, who is a judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S has termed supporters of the Critical Race Theory and postmodernists as the ‘lunatic core’ of ‘radical legal egalitarianism,’ mentioning that what is most noticeable about the theory is that it refutes the Western custom of sensible analysis, renouncing systemic investigation for narrative (Posner, 1997). Instead of rationalized coherent point of views and experimental data, the Critical Race Theory uses stories derived that are anecdotal, autobiographical, quasi-fictional, science-fictional and fictional in nature with the aim of exposing the incapacitating and prevalent racism in the U.S at present (Posner, 1997). By rebutting analytic argumentation, the critical race theorists strengthen stereotypes regarding the intellectual capabilities of the people with color.
Alex Kozinski, a judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals mentions that supporters of the Critical Race Theory have developed an ideology which makes an effective exchange of constructs between the numerous disciplines involved unachievable. The radical opinions of multiculturalists lead to insurmountable obstacles to shared understanding (Kozinski, 1997). Taking the example of Bell’s (1992) parable about the whites selling the blacks to aliens for profit, Kozinski explains that one cannot have an important discussion with Bell regarding his declarations in the parable because Bell’s thesis is completely untestable. A person swiftly reaches a dead end after reading the parable and either discarding or accommodating Bell’s proclamation that the whites will happily sell all black people to the aliens. Kozinski considers Bell’s story as a jab at American Jews, especially those who put their lives at risk by actively taking part in the civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s (Kozinski, 1997). The parable noticeably infers that these Jews did it to satisfy their own interests.
Cross’s Stages of Black Identity Development
Cross’s model of identity development describes five stages which detail the evolution of identification of people as they move towards a positive black identity. The stages of the model include:
The initial stage shows the identity to be changed. People who are at this stage have attitudes ranging from anti-black to race neutrality (Cross et al., 1991). At this stage, much emphasis is put on other aspects of people’s lives such as religion, occupation, and lifestyle instead of their race. For blacks at this age, they don’t “see” race and they have emotional problems like anxiety and poor self-esteem (Umaña‐Taylor et al., 2014). Black people want to fit into the majority group by behaving, thinking and acting in manners that reduces the value of being black during this stage.
This stage segregates the point at which the individual feels obligated to change. The two steps involved in this stage are encountering and personalizing (Cross et al., 1991). In the encountering step, individuals at this stage have to work around, shatter or slip through the significance of their philosophy and worldview (Rogers et al., 2015). They experience life-changing phenomenon that alters their view of life and influences how they perceive their identity. Personalization takes place when a person takes action because of the individual effect that the phenomenon prompted on that person’s worldview. The black people now realize that they are a misfit for both the minority and majority assemblages.
This stage defines the vortex of identity change. It talks about the most memorable element of black identity development, for it denotes the quagmire of psychosomatic Nigrescence (Cross et al., 1991). During this stage, black individuals start shedding their conventional worldview and develop a novel structure of reference with the information they have acquired regarding race (Porter & Dean, 2015). This stage marks the start of a time when black people accept and espouse a sense of black pride, which includes rebuffing anything that is not connected with their race. They may feel shamefaced for their position of subjugation or alternatively feel pride (Stevens, 2018. Also, they do not feel the need to impress others anymore at this stage.
This stage designates the internalization and familiarization with the new identity. It involves a transition era where a person is working through the difficulties and challenges of a new identity (Cross et al., 1991). During this stage, individuals move from how others perceive them to how they perceive themselves (Ritchey, 2014). At this stage, the black people’s security in who they are now enabled them to be open with the white community.
This stage continues to designate the internalization and familiarization with the new identity. It places emphasis on the long-standing interest of black affairs over a prolonged period (Cross et al., 1991)… Furthermore, there is an urgent sense of activism and action that comes across a black person at this stage. This can take form in the political field. Also, black people are increasingly concerned with the well-being and success of their race at this stage (Porter & Dean, 2015). Nevertheless, this stage may not occur for every person.
The relationship between Race, Success Factors and Identity among Black Men
In their early life, children usually seek to delineate themselves based on physiognomies like ethnic orientation, physical attributes, personality, and other distinctive characteristics. This thought course mirrors the natural evolution of identity development (Berwise, 2015). As young individuals reach adolescence, their identity development is manifested in the thoughtful deliberation of belief systems and life goals as well as a sense of individual purpose. Harper (2007) posit that even though all people take part in the experimentation and examination tendencies that result in identity development, for black people, this development process divulges itself in a different way than for white people. Black people have to develop an identity that comprises of individual personality influences against the milieu of the cultural group to which they belong (Dumas & Ross, 2016). For the blacks, the word racial identity entails more than just an individual’s categorization based on physical features. Rather, it involves a sense of collective identity based on one’s view that he or she shares a mutual racial heritage with a particular racial group.
Harper (2007) views the black people’s group membership as n inhibitory factor towards academic achievement because of the negative perception and treatment of black people since the early American history. The study by Ross et al. (2016) reveals that students of color are usually faced with adjustment challenges which are not experienced by white students. Black learners are often struggling with the incongruity of the education environment and their cultures. They lack a sense of belonging and undergo resistance, alienation as well as the dissimilar overriding culture of the whites. A significant number of black learners drop out of tertiary education programs, as a result, the lack of a sense of self-worth, cultural mistrust, psychological distress and micro-aggressions (Ross et al., 2016). Negative stereotypes and racism have had a negative effect on identity formation for black people.
As black learners pursue their careers and higher education. The exposure of black learners to the negative race-associated interactions raises their negative feelings and leads them to fight with their abilities and supposed limitations of their counterparts (Harper, 2017). The development of a positive self-awareness and self-identity can contribute to the academic and professional success of black people. Self-identity can be influential in dealing with prohibitive factors that inhibit the success of black people. When black learners strongly identify with their ethnic legacy, there is an augmentation in their academic motivation, self-efficacy, and self-esteem (Ross et al., 2016). Similarly, Berwise (2015) mentions that black racial identity can be useful in mitigating the destructive impacts of discrimination on professional and educational success.
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