Critical Race Theory, March 2021

Marching Forward: Coming Together to Integrate a Critical Theory of Workforce Development Using CRT 

Last month we began looking into the five tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) to help us create shared language as we continue our work together in CWDS. This article will focus on the concept of interest convergence. 

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a critical analysis of how race, racism, systems, and power are deeply intertwined. It calls into question the foundation of liberal order as it relates to the law and institutionalized systems. 

White people will support the progress of social justice issues if they have personal benefit (interest convergence).

This tenet is arguably one of the most difficult to grapple with and received much criticism in its early stages when Dr. Derrick Bell shed light on the issue in an article for Harvard Law Review. Our history and the status of society today tells us that racism advances the interests of white people, particularly elites who hold much power and privilege. This can also extend to the working-class. Considering they are a large part of the population (with elites holding the majority of power), there is little incentive to truly address and eliminate racism. 

This notion appears to be challenged when looking back on the laws that have been passed over the years- those in support of civil rights. A closer examination tells us that these changes were a result of “the self-interest of elite whites than a desire to help blacks.”1 Evolving research has expanded to investigate ways interest convergence exists across other dimensions of diversity. To date, the most popular example referenced is Brown v. Board of Education. Dr. Bell drew a connection between the sudden decision to desegregate schools (years of activism went mostly unheard) and the advantage it gave elite whites as it raised the country’s status among world leaders during the Cold War. It boiled down to one thing: “the interests of whites and blacks, for a brief moment, converged.”

This is still a reality today and brings to our attention the need to critically examine what’s happening around us. In times when we have more ears listening to the calls for social justice, equity, and reform, elite gains should not be the reason for change. 

If you have any questions about the specific information shared here please contact Charmaine Utz at cutz@sdsu.edu

1: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. 

 

About Jenee Northcutt

Strengths: Input, Strategic, Learner, Belief, Individualization
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