(Image via The Philadelphia Tribune)
By Michael Coard
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is not what lying white racists claim it is.
CRT is not Black Lives Matter. It is not reparations. It is not defunding/defanging the police. And it is not taught and was never designed to be taught in preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools or high schools.
CRT is a law school thing that grew out of Critical Legal Studies, which evolved from the premise that the law is not objective or apolitical. As defined in the “Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society,” CRT examines legal issues as they pertain to race and racism. Furthermore, as defined in “Race, Ethnicity, and Education” and in “A Short History of the ‘Critical’ in Critical Race Theory,” CRT examines how so-called colorblind laws promote structural racism.
And it wasn’t created a few weeks or a few months ago. The then-unnamed theory was created as a concept about 50 years ago in essays by Harvard Law School and New York University Law School professor Derrick Bell and was subsequently developed by University of Alabama Law School professor Richard Delgado, SUNY-Buffalo Law School professor Alan Freeman, UCLA Law School professor Cheryl Harris, University of Wisconsin collegiate education curriculum professor Gloria Ladson-Billings, Georgetown University Law Center and University of Hawaii Law School professor Charles Lawrence III, University of Hawaii Law School professor Mari Matsuda, University of Wisconsin Law School and Columbia University Law School professor Patricia Williams, University of California-Riverside graduate education professor Tara Yosso, and Columbia Law School professor Kimberlé Crenshaw.
In fact, it was Crenshaw who later coined the phrase “Critical Race Theory.”
The American Bar Association (ABA) explains that CRT is “a practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society [and it] emerged in the legal academy ….”
Moreover, the ABA points out that Crenshaw “notes that CRT … critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers…. CRT recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past. Instead, it acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.”
As I mentioned above, CRT morphed out of the fundamental understanding that the law is neither objective nor apolitical. Instead, it is prejudicially subjective and maliciously political.
As profoundly and sarcastically stated by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Anatole France, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”
And when race/racism is added to the mix, that “majestic equality” becomes blatant inequality on steroids. You want proof? Here are just a few examples of the irrefutable CRT proof regarding America’s past and present structural racism in the legal/legislative system starting with this nation’s birth — actually, even before.
- 1619: Following raids in Angola, 350 African men, women, and children were forced aboard the Portuguese “slave” ship São João Bautista that was headed to Mexico (a Spanish colony at the time) but was intercepted by conspiratorial pirates on an English ship and a Dutch ship who kidnapped 50-60 of the captives, after which approximately 20-30 of them arrived in bondage on the Dutch ship at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, on Aug. 25 and were forcibly sold and leased consistent with colonial American law.
- 1640: Virginia’s General Court of The Governor’s Council on July 9 ruled that two white runaway indentured servants were to have only four years added to their period of servitude but that a Black runaway indentured servant named John Punch was to be sentenced to “serve his said master or … assigns for the time of his natural life.”
- 1662: Virginia enacted a law during its December session declaring “that Negro women’s children are to serve according to the (enslaved or free) condition of the mother.”
- 1667: Virginia enacted a law on Sept. 23 declaring “that ‘baptisme’ of ‘slaves’ doth not exempt them from bondage.”
- 1669: Virginia enacted during its October session the “‘Casual’ Killing of ‘Slaves’ Law,” which declared that “If any ‘slave’ resist his master … (and while being disciplined) should chance to die …, his death shall not be” a crime because destroying one’s own property is not a crime.
CRT morphed out of the fundamental understanding that the law is neither objective nor apolitical. Instead, it is prejudicially subjective and maliciously political.
– Michael Coard
- 1776: The Declaration of Independence — which led to the official creation of this nation — was formally adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, two days after its members voted to approve it. As of that date, slavery was legal in each of the 13 colonies, which is obvious since 27 of the 56 white male property owners who signed the Declaration enslaved Black people by holding them, shipping them, and/or investing in their forced labor.
- 1789: The U.S. Constitution, which went into effect on March 4, not only endorsed slavery but also promoted it in at least five specific clauses. Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 defined enslaved Blacks as subhuman, counting them as a mere three-fifths of a human being. Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 established the Electoral College, giving white southerners more influence than white northerners in presidential elections. Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 guaranteed federal military aid, thus protecting the South in case of “slave” rebellions. Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 continued the importation of Africans into American slavery for at least two more decades. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 tightened the grip of slavery by requiring free states to return escapees to “slave” states.
- 1857: The U.S. Supreme Court, in the notorious Dred Scott case, ruled on March 6 that Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
- 1865: Congress didn’t really abolish slavery by ratifying the 13th Amendment on Dec. 6. Instead, it created the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration by stating that people can legally be held in slavery and involuntary servitude “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been convicted.”
- 1865-1866 (and later): The so-called Black Codes legislatively transformed formerly enslaved Blacks into currently convicted Blacks via the passage of wanton vagrancy, loitering, curfew, unpaid debt and other manufactured criminal statutes and ordinances.
- Mid-1860s through late-1870s: The Redemption Era was a concerted and successful racist effort by southern Congressmen to rescind all the racially progressive policies that had been implemented during the Reconstruction Era ending in 1877.
- 1873: The U.S. Supreme Court actually strengthened its Dred Scott ruling April 14 in the Slaughter-House Cases ruling.
- 1896: The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18, in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, sanctioned Jim Crow’s racist segregation by ruling that “separate is equal.” And it must be pointed out that, as of 2021, the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling still has not been fully implemented.
- 1934-1962: Modern-day white suburbs and Black ghettos were created after the federal government backed $120 billion in home loans exclusively to whites in what’s known as “redlining.”
- 2021: Congress continues to refuse to pass the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching bill, which is designed to simply and finally specify lynching as a hate crime, just as it refused to pass the 1918 Dyer Anti-Lynching bill and the 2018 Justice for Victims of Lynching bill.
- 2021: Congress continues to refuse to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
- 2021: Congress continues to refuse to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. By the way, as of Feb. 19, Republican state lawmakers have carried over, pre-filed, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states.
As all of the aforementioned irrefutable evidence makes clear, not only does America need CRT in law schools and colleges, America also needs it in high schools, junior high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, pre-schools AND uteruses.
Michael Coard is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this column first appeared.
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