What is the Critical Race Theory?

The CRT was coined in 1989 by Professor Derrick Bell, who defines it as "a set of ideas about how racial identity and experience are shaped by society." It emerged from the late 1960s civil rights movement, which sought to abolish racism and discrimination at a societal level. For this goal to be achieved, the CRT argues that we must also work on dismantling structural inequality within institutions such as;

•    Education
•    Housing
•    Health care
•    Law enforcement

The CRT is considered a "radical" theory because it does not believe that you can solve racism by giving people equal opportunities and expecting them to achieve the same results - something is known as "colorblindness." the theory's proponents sees race as a biological construct and one that is socially constructed through social interactions.

They argue that these interactions create an environment where white people have power and privilege over black people - even though they may not be aware of it. Instead, they argue for a more nuanced approach to consider how race shapes everyone's identity even if they are not aware of it.

Why is Critical Race Theory under Attack?

The Critical Race Theory is under attack because it challenges the concept of meritocracy. Meritocracy, which Michael Young first coined in 1958, refers to a society that rewards individual intelligence and skills, where everyone has an equal opportunity for success regardless of their social circumstances. The keyword here is "individual." This means that one person's success is dependent on that individual's abilities and efforts, not the collective effort of a group.

They popularized the idea of meritocracy during post-WWII American society (and it even became what we now call the "American Dream"). However, it became more evident that our social landscape did not perfectly match this idea as time went by. The Critical Race Theory acknowledges that racial hierarchies are built into society and argues that meritocracy is false because it does not account for these inequalities.

Criticisms of CRT

Critics claim that proponents of CRT ignore individualism in favor of group identity; they fail to recognize how individuals can succeed without any form of group identity. However, CRT acknowledges that privileges are granted to some groups over others; it is not claiming that everyone has an equal opportunity for success regardless of race. It simply acknowledges how society operates in a way that benefits certain races more than others.

Another criticism is how proponents of CRT rely too heavily on anecdotal evidence rather than statistical data. Instead of providing empirical evidence to back up their claims, they rely on examples like the three black teenagers. The latter was shot in Chicago by an off-duty police officer (it turned out he was white) because they fit a pre-crime profile (walking through an alley wearing dark clothes).

While this example is horrible and tragic, it isn't necessarily indicative of larger social trends. One could argue that it was an unfortunate isolated incident and not the result of systematic discrimination against black individuals (and one would be right).

The Critical Race Theory poses a real challenge to our understanding of meritocracy. It is not saying that an individual's success depends on their race, but it recognizes how society benefits certain races more than others. For this reason, CRT deserves a fair hearing and should be taken seriously by those who want to dismantle racism in American society.