I oppose Critical Race Theory. Well, I cannot say if I oppose the text, Critical Race Theory, or its academic study because I’ve absolutely no experience with either, but I absolutely oppose the practical application of Critical Race Theory (CRT) as it is increasingly absorbed by culture and social communities (particularly online advocacy spaces). Whether it is CRT in truth, or a conflation of CRT with Robin De Angelo’s White Fragility cult, the CRT I’ve encountered in online social communities has been nothing short of toxic.
Today, I would like to explicate the work of an artist on Instagram, Sylvia Duckworth, in a post on the application called “What is Critical Race Theory?” I plan to use the skills I learned in my graduate Linguistics class to unearth the meaning between the lines of this particular post, which markets the effectiveness of CRT in the eradication of racism.
Ms. Duckworth defines CRT as “a framework that is used to help us understand why racial inequities exist in our society and how we can eradicate them.” What is really being communicated here?
For starters, if CRT is “a framework,” this means it is one possible approach to the issue of cultural racism. The word “framework” indicates a particular conceptual structure, and once we begin to investigate concepts, we are investigating constructs. This is of utmost importance because while CRT aims to deconstruct the systems that perpetuate racism, on the basis that these systems are social constructs, we cannot ignore the fact that this “framework,” this approach to handling racial inequity, is itself a social construct.
I would like to know–if CRT is “a framework,” or one approach, to addressing systemic and cultural racism, what other approaches have been ignored upon the prioritization of this one? This leads to my next question: What is Not being said in the language of Ms. Duckworth’s post?
Ms. Duckworth fails to address the existence (or even possibility) of other approaches to this cultural dilemma. Similarly, she fails to acknowledge the fact that this conceptual structure is, itself, a mere construct. Next she asserts a bold assumption through the use of a rhetorical question: “Why is this so threatening to some white people?”
This approach doesn’t threaten all white people, because those who agree with it are not threatened by it; however, if you are white and you oppose this particular approach to analyzing the cause of and eradicating racial inequality, then by default, you are insecure–fragile.
Through the use of her rhetorical question, Ms. Duckworth implies that there are no valid reasons (outside of feeling threatened) for white people to oppose the CRT framework, and this conflates an opposition to this (one) approach with white fragility and a desire to perpetuate the racist status quo.
However, I can think of many other reasons why a white person might oppose this dogmatic approach to analyzing the causes and eradicating the presence of racial inequity. I am white. I oppose racism. I oppose racial bias (conscious or unconscious). I do not agree with the methodology in question (CRT), as it is applied in social communities. Just because I oppose the CRT approach, does not mean I’ve no interest in other approaches to addressing racial inequities.
Further, I find it counterproductive to silence dissent and label all opposition to one approach: RACIST! This is, in itself, a tyrannical position to take. It is never healthy to force one belief system (or in this case analytical approach) into Universal status. I think an open conversation about variable approaches to any given issue is the healthiest form of problem solving.
As a neurodivergent human, this is a social conundrum I’ve faced for years. The universally accepted ways of doing “life things” do not work effectively for me. Competition is supposed to drive performance? Maybe it does for most people, but not me. For me, competition leads to shut down and hopelessness. I’m supposed to memorize shit to learn it? If that’s the case, I’ll remain ignorant forever. For me, I require contemplation and I must summarize things in order to internalize and remember ideas. I will never be able to give a direct quote of anything I’ve read or heard, but I can summarize it in my own words any day.
For this reason, I find that the pressure–especially within the online autistic self advocacy community–to force conformity to CRT ideology is absolutely mind boggling. If anyone is familiar with the challenges of forced conformity, it’s the neurodivergent community.
There is no one way to solve any given problem. This is why kids are taught myriad strategies for problem solving in Math. There are always multiple paths to any given destination. Why, all of a sudden, are liberal social spaces insisting on only one approach to addressing racial inequity? It’s counterintuitive to me, and honestly, extremely discouraging.
If you would like to see the full post I explicated, you can find it here. There are several slides in the post, and as yet, I’ve only addressed the first. I think I would like to explicate all of them, in time…but as it’s intense “emotional labor,” I imagine I will need long breaks between each explication session.