This month we begin looking into the five tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT). They are central to this framework and can help us create shared language as we continue our work together in CWDS. Below is a snapshot of tenets; this article will focus on the normalness of racism and the idea of colorblindness.
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.
The Five Tenets of Critical Race Theory
- Racism is normal, common, and part of everyday life. Colorblindness is not a helpful strategy to disrupt racism.
- What is deemed normal or standard is based on white ideology. White people will support the progress of social justice issues if they have personal benefit (interest convergence).
- Race is a social construction. It was designed to divide and exclude groups.
- We must consider who is telling the story, what voices are missing, and the impact that story may have if it’s based solely on a white perspective (storytelling). Counterstorytelling is the idea that we must hear from the actual people the stories are about (people of color)- they are the experts of their experiences.
- Civil rights legislation benefits White people. Rights are still restrictive and social hierarchies remain intact.
It’s important to note that CRT’s tenets don’t necessarily have standardized descriptions that are consistent across fields of practice. Instead, the tenets function as characterizations of societal practices and experiences through an examination of history, power, privilege, and oppression. The wording may vary from scholar to scholar, but the essence remains the same.
Racism is normal, common, and part of everyday life. Colorblindness is not a helpful strategy to disrupt racism.
This first tenet describes the ever presence of racism. It’s woven into the fabric of our society and can be seen throughout history from systemic/structural practices to individual acts/beliefs against others. Because racism is ordinary, we operate within a world that “others” people who don’t fit dominant white standards. CRT asserts that this “feature, ordinariness, means that racism is difficult to cure or address.”1
Colorblindess is a perception of equality. In the expression of colorblindess is the denial of unequal treatment based on the color of one’s skin, race/ethnicity. It is becoming more understood that claiming to be colorblind is harmful and reinforces the ordinariness of racism. In order to disrupt that pattern, we must see color to see the injustices happening around us.
We are excited to dig into the rest of CRT’s tenets in the months to come. If you have any questions about the specific information shared here please contact Charmaine Utz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1: Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.
Written by Charmaine Utz, CWDS Workforce Development Coordinator
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