The New York Times has an excellent op-ed out explaining critical race theory and its unfair censorship under Arizona’s House Bill 2281 (yes, the infamous one which prohibits instruction that promotes “racial resentment” and solidarity). The article does an excellent job of pointing out that, although critical race theory has been vilified by the bill’s supporters and recent media coverage, the discourses that fall under the purview of this field are not nearly as monolithic as portrayals make them seem. That is, critical race theory isn’t an area of scholarship that asserts certain ethnic groups have a core set of experiences and traits which oppose other ethnic groups. Rather, many critical race theorists and involved in interrogating the conception of race having any sort of essence to it at all. Indeed, essentialist constructions of race is the way in which racism permeates. Moreover, it tackles issues of cultural assimilation and integration: Can ethnic individuals assimilate into dominant culture? How can one integrate without losing one’s history and difference? Can a racial culture or experience be said to exist at all? These are the important issues interrogated by critical race theory. While some theorists could be seen as hostile to, for example, ‘whiteness,’ this isn’t a universal. Just as it is questionable as to whether blackness carries with it an ingrained set of experiences, it is likewise questionable as to whether once can be opposed to ‘whiteness’ — both whiteness and blackness lacking rigid definitions or essences. While some theorists could be said to be hostile to their own constructions of ‘whiteness,’ others question the reinscription of whiteness/blackness or rigid binaries in general. And the back and forth discourse on this is necessary for any people to be fully informed and fully thinking about the word around them.
Posted by Lee.