There has been much debate over what does and what does not constitute “critical race theory.” The term has been used to describe everything from the foundational legal theory texts by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Richard Delgado, to the popular “anti-racist” works of Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Others have erroneously used the term to describe even the most objective and factual descriptions of America’s racial history. The imprecision of the term has led some commentators, like
Chad, you are a winner. Best of luck as you move forward in your legal career. We need more young Americans like you and especially more law students who can think for themselves
A remarkable article. I've been looking for such a neutral and precise description of these concepts for a long time. Here is hoping it spreads around!
Clearest description of the issue I have read. Really helpful.
Great piece. I wrote about the data describing the many causes of disparities on my Substack as well, which can be found here, along with eleven other related essays: https://paultaylor.substack.com/p/part-3-the-many-causes-of-disparities.
You say, “In the legal context, there does not need to be any evidence of discriminatory motive to bring a successful disparate impact lawsuit.” That’s true as far as it goes, but I’m not sure that’s far enough. As I understand it, even where a disparate impact can be shown, a defendant can win the case if it can be proven "that the challenged practice is necessary to achieve one or more substantial, legitimate, non-discriminatory interests." It gets somewhat more complicated than that, but the point is that merely showing a disparate impact may not be sufficient to win a lawsuit.
This is a wonderfully written piece. While I appreciate the nuance you bring to the conversation, I’m curious how you see policy playing a role in improving outcomes. The mere fact of residential segregation that persists today as a result of redlining, restrictive covenants, and real estate methods in the 20th century (discriminatory lending and home appraisals are ongoing) prevented substantial wealth building among the Black community and has pigeonholed a large proportion (as you say, Black people as a group) into areas of poverty. Because of our country’s educational funding structure, these predominately Black districts receive a fraction of the funding of the areas that are, as a result of 20th century housing policy, predominately white. You can blame Black culture, or you can blame poverty, which yields the same results of violence, crime, single-family households, teenage pregnancy, and joblessness across all races. But to say to Black people, who as a group are still struggling to escape the ghettos to which our country assigned them, that it is incumbent upon them to change that structure of residential segregation and overcome the dearth of investment in their children’s education and meanwhile alter their culture (which I presume is a criticism of the violence, crime, single-parent households, etc, that exist in many Black communities) is not only unrealistic but unfair. If you are not saying this, then I’d welcome a clearer explanation of what policy change you do support and how you see Black people, as a group that has less wealth and power than any other group in our country, addressing the outcome of poverty that is sewn into the literal landscape of our country.
Terrific. Argued with logic and compassion.
Well-thought, well-said, well-hoped. Thank you Chad.
I appreciate Mr. Williams' argument and point of view, but I think he misstates what CRT is, instead arguing about what it does. CRT is a theory, first, and all of its manifestations follow from the theory. It is a theory of social relations and this theory begins with the assumption that each of us is either master or slave, oppressor or the oppressed. Any theory is only as valid as the assumptions on which it is based. If the assumption is faulty then everything that follows from the theory is faulty, too.
When Karl Marx wrote about his theory of social relations, it may have appeared in mid 19th Century England where he lived and wrote and Europe where he was born and raised that there were masters and slaves and no other station in life. His theory failed to take into account, for example, the 3/4 of the planet where other societies existed and in some cases flourished.
The West's experience in the 20th Century and especially the American experience demonstrated that we can be agents of our own destiny and are not limited by Marx's assumed categories of master and slave. Our laws removed the legal opportunity to discriminate on the basis of master/slave status and the success of men like Mr. Williams and many women, too, show us that Black people have agency for their destinies if they choose to apply it.
The proponents of CRT demand we apply a "lens" of race to everything we do; they insist on perpetuating the master/ slave binary. They do it not to build a better society but to tear down the one we have worked hard to achieve.
I think the hardest thing for Blacks to face, is other Blacks holding them down. During slavery, there were Black slave owners and Black overseers. Today, the most dangerous thing to a Black man is another Black man. Yet, whites get the blame for it all.
Thank you, Mr. Chad Williams. This is the type of thinking that will move us forward in a positive way. Revenge/coercion/hyperbole won't solve this. But love, combined with rational thinking (humanistic approach) and individual effort will. Bravo!
Like all others I agree with this brilliant piece, that 100s will read while Kendi, Blow and Coates, oh so oppressed, delude millions by the day.
"However, despite the successes black Americans have achieved in the years since the Civil Rights Movement, disparities between racial groups persist." -
To this, yes, because tens of millions of people have been born into families they should not have, in broken families, abused by shameful parenting, and then on top, made lazy choices about reading at school, behaving, abiding by law, or conforming to any healthy degree. Hence, disparities persist. If Jewish, or Asian American families/kids had done the same thing since the 1960s they too would have had the same outcomes.
Race Essentialism is the issue.
This is an EXCELLENT piece. Very balanced and well-written.