critical race theory


Definition of critical race theory

: a group of concepts (such as the idea that race (see race entry 1 sense 1a) is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism (see racism sense 2a) pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States Critical race theory essentially forces legal scholars to ask questions, she [Kimberlé Crenshaw] continued. For instance, why does possession of less expensive drugs carry higher jail sentences than more expensive drugs? Could this have anything to do with the fact that more people of color are in prison? "It is a way of looking at law's role … facilitating, producing, and even insulating racial inequality in our country, ranging from health to wealth to segregation to policing," said Crenshaw …Columbia News Critical race theory is a field of intellectual inquiry that demonstrates the legal codification of racism in America. Through the study of law and U.S. history, it attempts to reveal how racial oppression shaped the legal fabric of the U.S. Critical race theory is traditionally less concerned with how racism manifests itself in interactions with individuals and more concerned with how racism has been, and is, codified into the law.— David Miguel Gray also : a movement advocating the examination of this relationship Ultimately, the liberal defense of critical race theory ignores an aspect of the movement that many of its founders considered fundamental: the "desire not merely to understand the vexed bond between law and racial power but to change it," as the editors of "Critical Race Theory" [Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement] wrote. … Critical race theory is not merely about making a better historical document but about movement toward the way things could be. — Lauren Michele Jackson abbreviation CRT

Other Words from critical race theory

critical race theorist noun, plural critical race theorists
Many CRT scholars had witnessed how the law could be used to help secure and protect civil rights. Therefore, critical race theorists recognized that, while the law could be used to deepen racial inequality, it also held potential as a tool for emancipation and for securing racial equality. — Janel George

First Known Use of critical race theory

1988, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of critical race theory was in 1988

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critical race theory

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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Critical race theory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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