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.

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