Week 4: Settler Colonialism and TribalCrit

Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, September 2016

This week we start to engage ideas around settler colonialism, and the ways the racialization of Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans emerged with and through the process of colonization in (what is now known as) the United States. Often conversations about race and racism ignore indigenous peoples, or fail to address the role of ongoing settler colonialism in creating racial stratification. The readings offer theoretical foundations into understanding just what settler colonialism is (and what it shares and how it differs from other forms of colonialism), as well as two Indigenous scholars approaches to CRT and indigeneity. Native identity is both racialized and also political/legal (Native peoples in the US are considered a racial group as well as citizens of sovereign nations), which we will work to unpack and put in conversations about racial formations and the tenets of CRT.

Questions to ask yourself this week: Whose land are you on? Which tribal nation(s) specifically? How are the Native people in your community represented (or not)? For non-Native people: in what ways have you benefitted and continue to benefit from settler colonialism?

Week 4 (9/27): Settler Colonialism and Tribal Crit


  • Castagno, A. E. (2005). Extending the bounds of race and racism: Indigenous women and the persistence of the Black-White paradigm of race. Urban Review, 37(5), 447-468. (Link)
  • Coulthard, G. S. (2014). Red skin, white masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition.
  • Grande, S. (2015). Red pedagogy: Native American social and political thought. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An indigenous peoples’ history of the United States. Beacon Press.
  • The Standing Rock Syllabus: https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/ 

Week 3: CRT tenets


This week we read Critical race theory: An introduction, which can be purchased here, or Brown users can access for free through the library. There is also a pdf linked, but if you are able I encourage you to purchase the text and support the authors and their work. We will learn about the history, origins, central tenets, and debates surrounding CRT, and delve more deeply into intersectionality. Intersectionality has become a buzzword as of late, but what does it actually mean?

Learning goals for the week:

  • identify the central tenets of CRT
  • learn the history and origins of CRT
  • discuss intersectionality and the ways it is used/misused in popular culture
  • discuss debates surrounding CRT

Selected discussion questions (from the book–each chapter ends with discussion questions):

1. Is critical race theory pessimistic? Consider that it holds that racism is ordinary, normal, and embedded in society, and, moreover, that changes in relationships among the races (which include both improvements and turns for the worse) reflect the interest of dominant groups, rather than idealism, altruism, or the rule of law. Or is it optimistic, because it believes that race is a social construction? (As such, it should be subject to ready change.) And if CRT does have a dark side, what follows from that? Is medicine pessimistic because it focuses on diseases and traumas?

2. Most people of color believe that the world contains much more racism than white folks do. What accounts for this difference?

3. If society agreed to think only the kindest of thoughts about people of color, would their condition improve very much? How much, and in the short or the long run?

4. If society agreed to treat everyone, including people of color, exactly the same, would the condition of communities of color improve very much? Again, in the short or the long run?

5. Are stories based on firsthand experience, for example, racial discrimination at a department store, irrefutable (because only the author was there), and, if so, how can other scholars build on or criticize them? Are they power moves? Exclusionary? Useful, raw experience or data?

6. Would it not be logical for blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans to unite in one powerful coalition to confront the power system that is oppressing them all? If so, what prevents them from doing so?


Week 3 (9/20): CRT Foundations and Tenets


Permanence of racism:

  • Bell, D. (1987). And we are not saved: The elusive quest for racial justice. New York: Basic Books.
  • Bell, D. (1993). Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of racism. New York: Basic Books.
  • Bell, D. (2000). Wanted: A White leader able to free Whites of racism. UC Davis Law Review, 33(3), 527-544. http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/33/3/Barrett/DavisVol33No3_Bell.pdf


  • Hancock, A.-M. (2007). When multiplication doesn’t equal quick addition: Examining intersectionality as a research paradigm. Perspectives in Politics, 5(1), 63-79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20446350
  • Han, C.-s. (2008). No fats, femmes, or Asians: The utility of critical race theory in examining the role of gay stock stories in the marginalization of Asian men. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(1), 11-12.
  • Patton, L. D., & Simmons, S. L. (2008). Exploring complexities of multiple identities of lesbians in a Black college environment. The Negro Educational Review, 59(3), 197-215. Link (EBSCO)
  • Hancock, A.-M. (2005). W.E.B. DuBois: Intellectual forefather of intersectionality? Souls, 7(3), 74-84. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10999940500265508

Interest Convergence:

  • Bell, D. A. (1979). Brown v. Board of Education and other interest convergence dilemma. Harvard Law Review, 93(3), 518-534. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1340546
  • Donnor, J. K. (2005). Towards an interest-convergence in the education of African American student athletes in major college sports. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 45-67.
  • Dudziak, M. L. (1988). Desegregation as a cold war imperative. Stanford Law Review, 41(1), 61-120. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1228836
  • Harper, S. R. (2009). Race, interest convergence, and transfer outcomes for Black male student athletes. In L. S. Hagedorn & D. Horton (Eds.), Student athletes and athletics. New Directions for Community Colleges (No. 147, Fall 2009, pp. 29-37). https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d627/5bf0d607b84a60509f0c6616da9ece0491bc.pdf
  • Milner, H. R. (2008). Critical Race Theory and interest convergence as analytical tools in teacher education policies and practices. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(4), 332-346. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022487108321884
  • Taylor, E. (2000). Critical Race Theory and interest convergence in the backlash against affirmative action: Washington State and Initiative 200. Teachers College Record,102(3), 539-560.

Week 2: Racial Formations

This week we delve into the ideas of race as a social construction. What does that actually mean, and in what ways has race been “made real” as well as malleable through law, policy, and history in the United States?

Week 2 (9/13): Racial Formations


Take two Harvard Implicit Assumption Tests (IAT): https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html (“Race IAT” and “Native IAT”)

AFTER you take the tests, read this article.


Positionality Paper : This short paper (1-2pgs) asks you to understand your own relationship to the topic of the course, and help the instructor to better shape the content and direction of the course. What is your prior experience with CRT? What experiences in your life have shaped your relationships to the course topic? How do your various identities intersect and inform your relationship to CRT?

Tweet out thoughts, questions, and reflections using #IntroCRT17 #Week2

Week 1: Introductions, Overview

For the first week of class, students are asked to read Derrick Bell’s “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” which can be found here: https://sph.umd.edu/sites/default/files/files/Bell_Whos%20Afraid%20of%20CRT_1995UIllLRev893.pdf 

“In this essay, originally delivered as a David C. Baum Memorial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at the University of Illinois College of Law, Professor Bell begins by discussing the recent debate surrounding The Bell Curve, and utilizing the tools of critical race theory, he offers an alternative explanation as to why the book’s authors decided to publish rejected theories of black inferiority. Professor Bell then discusses the origins of critical race theory, what the theory is, what the theory ought to be, and the critics’ attack of the theory. He concludes with stories about black struggle in America, stories which Professor Bell believes accurately depict the ongoing racist efforts to prevent black success.”

The introductory powerpoint can be found here: Intro CRT class 1 2017