What is the Critical Race Theory

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The Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an intellectual movement established in the 1970s when social activists realized that the Civil Rights Movement had become ineffective. The social activists and legal scholars that developed CRT realized that systematic racism existed in the U.S. despite fighting against it. These scholars used the CRT to enlighten Americans that minority races faced racial discrimination in healthcare, employment, housing, and education due to institutions, policies, and laws that support it. For this reason, the CRT is a model that argues that America’s laws determine the general perceptions of race and ethnicity, resulting in economic, social, and political inequalities. The CRT questions why America’s social and political institutions have failed to design legal techniques that promote social and economic justice. Notably, the CRT is a movement that argues that racism is part of America, micro-aggressions are a primary part of racial discrimination, White American privilege is present in the U.S., and racism is a social construction.

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Racism Is a Part of American Society

The CRT states that racism exists in all sections of American society, including judicial systems, economic systems, and personal relationships. The theory reveals that racial ideologies promote racial discrimination in higher education systems’ main domains, such as religion, business, sports, Information Technology (IT), computer sciences, and health sciences (Lin, 2022). The theory reveals that racism controls all business aspects, including marketing research, finance, and the housing market. The movement exposes the scientific racism that guides the development of algorithmic systems and artificial intelligence (AI). Thus, the theory argues that racial discrimination in the U.S. is normal. Most individuals from minority races experience racism regularly. They fail to find good academic education, houses, and jobs and fail to access loans due to the high levels of racial discrimination in the nation. In addition, individuals from minority races have a high chance of experiencing police brutality and living in impoverished neighborhoods.

Microaggressions

The CRT argues that most instances of racial discrimination against minority races occur as micro-aggressions. CRT scholars define racial micro-aggressions as short-term exchanges that tell people from minority races that they are inferior (Williams, 2021). They include verbal, non-verbal, layered, and cumulative assaults that communicate a negative perception towards individuals from minority races. For example, a White American suspecting an African American to be a criminal is a typical racial micro-aggression. People who consciously reject racism also embrace micro-aggressions unknowingly. Although these individuals are not racist, they might avoid hiring African-American or Hispanic employees due to the widespread belief that most African-Americans and Hispanics are drug addicts. According to CRT, the primary purpose of micro-aggressions is to assert White American dominance. They remind individuals from minority races that they are outsiders who might prevent White Americans from living a safe and happier life. Micro-aggressions are a harmful aspect of racial discrimination because they result in mental health complications, particularly severe depression and anxiety among individuals from minority races. They make people from minority races question their sanity and blame themselves for racial discrimination.

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White American Privilege

CRT reveals that White American privilege exists in the U.S. The movement’s theorists claim that White Americans have social advantages, courtesies, and benefits that arise due to their racial background. The White American privilege occurs due to White Supremacy influencing society’s discourses, practices, and structures (Lin, 2022). White Supremacy ensures that factors such as fashion that White Americans value become important societal aspects against which other society members from minority racial backgrounds are judged. Society forces individuals from minority races to act in a manner that reflects White American norms. For instance, it forces African-American women to wear wigs and African-American men to straighten their hair. Society treats poorly individuals who fail to embrace the White American culture. CRT movement reveals that White Americans have easier access to health, loans, and suitable housing, and law enforcement officers rarely suspect them as criminals. Generally, the CRT asserts that American society ensures that White Americans have a better socioeconomic life than other minority races.

Racism Is a Social Construction

CRT claims that racism is not natural. The theory argues that it is a social construction that aims to promote a racial caste system that keeps individuals from minority races in a disadvantaged position (George, 2021). The theory agrees that specific physical characteristics, for example, facial features, hair texture, and skin color are different between individuals from different racial backgrounds. However, it argues that such factors do not independently make a particular race superior or inferior to another. The movement reveals that racial discrimination occurs due to a negative perception of the behavioral and psychological tendencies of individuals from a particular race. Wealthy and powerful races use these tendencies to establish policies that promote the inhumane treatment of other races. These policies make society members believe they must treat individuals from different racial backgrounds differently (Banaji et al., 2021). Allocating several resources to areas with White Americans also creates racial discrimination by implying that White Americans deserve a better life than individuals from minority races. The tendency of highly developed neighborhoods to prevent access to minority races perpetuates racial discrimination by promoting the idea that White Americans foster economic and social development while other races avoid it. For this reason, racial discrimination is a design promoted by society; it is not an inherent part of humanity.

Conclusion

The CRT is an intellectual movement that exposes racial discrimination in the U.S. The theory asserts that racism is an everyday experience of individuals from minority races in America because it exists in all sections of society. CRT reveals that micro-aggressions are a primary part of racial discrimination that inform individuals from minority races that they are inferior humans. They are verbal, non-verbal, layered, and cumulative assaults that assert White Supremacy. Lastly, the movement exposes the White American privilege in the U.S. and argues that racism is a social construction.

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  1. Banaji, M. R., Fiske, S. T., & Massey, D. S. (2021). Systemic racism: Individuals and interactions, institutions and society. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 6(82). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00349-3
  2. George, J. (2021). A lesson on critical race theory. Civil Rights Reimagining Policing, 46(2). https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/
  3. Lin, J. C. P. (2022). Exposing the chameleon-like nature of racism: A multidisciplinary look at critical race theory in higher education. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-022-00879-9
  4. Williams, M. T. (2021). Racial microaggressions: Critical questions, state of the science, and new directions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 16(5), 880–885. https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916211039209
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