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On the Accuracy of Critical Race Theory

Sam Taylor

Posted on September 12, 2020 23:43

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On September 4th, the Trump administration announced the cessation of federal seminars expounding critical race theory, sparking wide controversy over a superficially simple question: is critical race theory accurate?

Once an esoteric branch of legal studies, critical race theory (sometimes ‘CRT’) gained mainstream prominence when federal seminars explaining its tenets were discontinued last Friday. Across the nation, academics have canceled classes to explain the racism intrinsic to Western democracy; pastors have extolled the prospect of affirmative action; the curricula of several K-12 schools have become intertwined with CRT. For good or worse, the radicalism of critical race theory has entered the limelight. 


According to CRT, meritocracy (i.e. a merit-based society) and racial equality under the law immortalize white supremacy in obscuring the systemic nature of racism: a societal bias maintained by stereotypes and a legacy of racial oppression. Proponents of CRT argue that white dominance pervades every facet of Western life—from the smallest ‘microaggression’ to the most heinous act of prejudice—and that ignoring this fact in enacting policies which ‘treat everyone equally’ only furthers the pervasion of racism. In place of such policy, we should consciously, incessantly check our racial biases through diversity training and affirmative action, or so critical race theorists hold. 


But I, and many others, take issue with a number of these notions. 


While it’s true that unconscious bias causes significant disparities between races (warranting the mitigation of racial stereotypes), and indisputable that the deplorable effects of past racism hinder the development of many minority communities, the idiosyncratic notions of critical race theory remain ill-substantiated. The long-term efficiency of affirmative action is unclear (see section #7) as is the statistical degree to which implicit bias (as opposed to socioeconomic difference and cultural dissimilarity) is a primary cause of racial inequality. Moreover, the idea that abolishing meritocracy is a justified response to racial discrepancies is, in my personal opinion, inane. Awarding individuals positions based on achievement isn’t the fundamental obstacle to minority success; rather, the socioeconomic circumstances and negative stereotypes associated with many minority communities, which largely bar them from economic development and achievement, are the principal obstacles to their collective prosperity. 


Further still, dissent exists over the very definition of racism: while some (usually conservatives) delineate it as unequivocal racial-prejudice, others (usually liberals and/or leftists) discern racism in microaggressions and societal disparity—irrespective of individual prejudice. Ergo, an essential principle of critical race theory, that racism pervades everything, seems to depend on arbitrarily preferring one politicized definition over the other. 


All this serves to illustrate the uncorroborated, disputable nature of critical race theory. While the negative effects of stereotyping and unconscious bias are demonstrably abhorrent, the contention that white supremacy suffuses democratic institutions, classical liberalism, and meritocracy appears to be a falsity, or at most an unverified truth. Thus, in the fight against racism, developing policies and attitudes which diminish negative stereotypes and racially-correlated poverty seems a better tactic than demeaning the morality of meritocratic democracy. 


If you disagree, feel free to explain why in the comments.

Sam Taylor

Posted on September 12, 2020 23:43

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Source: Al Jazeera

The White House is targeting training on critical race theory and white privilege, calling them 'anti-American'.

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