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What is critical race theory, anyway?


Ian Haney Lopez joins Jane to discuss critical race theory: what it is and what it isn't.


"Which Party Represents the Racial Future?" by Ross Douthat


Ian Haney Lopez (@IanHaneyLopez), Professor of Law, UC Berkeley


Jane Coaston (@cjane87), Senior Politics Reporter, Vox


Jeff Geld, (@jeff_geld), Editor and Producer

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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change our environment and working towards a better future, learn more it Indigo ac com, recode. If we are country in which these important institutions, capitalism, racism, the market see itself are interwoven. Then we need to start thinking about racism in much more sophisticated ways as not simple interpersonal though it is that, but as something that has also intimately connected with our economy. That is connected with our government that is connected with our politics. That was the
side of critical race theory, hello and welcome to another episode of the weeds and the VOX media podcast network? I'm Jane Kosten senior politics reporter at VOX and today my guest is Ian: Hey Lopez, professor of law, at the University of California, at Berkeley and author of Merge, left, fusing race and class winning elections and saving America, so today, we are going to be talking about an issue which I immediately when I saw a lot of folks having this conversation on the internet and having this conversation,
and generally on the internet. I thought I needed to reach out to you, and that is on the subjects of the intersection of race in class and the subject of which is often can't have people have conversations with it within the scope of critical race theory and the idea of critical rest. There has been a hot debate because I think what we are seeing is that there is the concept of critical rest theory at it, as it was discuss, debated devised by academics and activists in the nineteen seventies and nineteen eighties, and then there is how critical race theory has been emanated or in some ways
utilized in diversity, workplace, presentations at businesses and entities, including the federal government that for Disease control, for example. So I want to start out by asking what are the basic tenets of critical race theory and I'll start by saying at the basics. As I understand it is that racism is not an aberration, it is not a individualised. Sin is normal, not normal, as in good but normal, as in common racism is effective. It advances the idea, the interests of, in this case white,
people either psychically or materially. Either it makes you feel better or it makes you more wealthy and that it race is the product of social thought. Race is not a biological fact. Race is a social construction. Do I have that right? How would you define what these ideas boil down to? If you could, I think I'd start in a different place. I'd start by thinking about what critical race theory was reacting, to which we can describe as a liberal race theory, so liberal raised very especially as expressed in the ninety fifties in the nineteen sixties and especially as developed in the practice of law. The legal academy, understood racism. What we might now called prejudice, or perhaps bigotry the idea, that he was interpersonal and also solvable correct
double what would fall it. For instance, integration getting too all people of different race and why without solve it, because at root racism was understood to be and intellectual error. You simply. People were used to use the phrase ignorant and no better, and if they only knew better, they would stop and they would change now against that sort of an understanding of races along come a group of scholars who say you know this is a country that is founded through a sort of a complex dance between capitalism and racism, and this is not to make the United States exceptional. This is the history of colonialism, but if we are a country in which these important institutions- capitalism, racism, democracy, it how far interwoven. Then we need to start thinking about racism in much more sophisticated ways as now
simply interpersonal, though it is that, but as something that is all intimately connected with our economy. That is connected with our government. That is connected with our politics. That is the current state of critical, try to then say? Okay? Well, what are the major tenants that becomes a little bit challenging because the main insight is socially constituted? Income Combination with these other important social institutions? Now we did and say: well, how does it work in politics? That's one conversation: how does it work in the economy? That's another. How does it structure our culture? How does it inform or conscious minds that are shaped by both the material environment. We move in, but also the culture and Hollywood and all that super super interesting. But I think the most important takeaway is This is a move to treat racism seriously in, and I like to use a metaphor of economics.
Like no one would think they understand economics by focusing simply on some people exchanging cash for goods, though the clearly that's an important part of the economy. Most people would respond this like we're. Yes, there's that, but there's the way in which the economy is structured by government there is the cultural practices of cod. Um there's the political debates about winners and losers. That's what's happening with racism. Yes, there's is component known would deny. But no one should think that that captures the full complexity of racism racism is also part of our guy, part of our culture, part of our economy. That's the core. Inside of critical race theory, you have a quote in which you said that race maybe America single most confounding problem, but the confounding problem of races that few people seem to know what race is and there seems to be in the room,
that I've done on the subject of critical raced theory, a bit of a dichotomy in which there is a general disagreement that if racism is a story of racism, is the result, there is no genetic reality of what races and that these categories can be shifted and changed. You can have japanese internment at in the same country in which then Asian Americans become quote Model minority is that these ideas can shift in change. There's an idealist perspective of critical rest area. What you could just change? The social integration of how races constructed but then there is also the idea of racial realism, which I kind of want you to unpack a little bit, because I come as someone who's Britain a lot about white nationalism. They have a very different understanding standing. What racial realism is, so it seems to be an interesting dichotomy that, if
Racism and race are not necessarily solvable incorrect able, but also that racism is a story that could be deconstructed that could be shifted and change depending on material needs. There is an argument by the late scholar, Derek Bell that a lot of this supreme Court cases that have advanced the rights of african Mirror and came at a time when everyone was kind of like ok, fine. We might as well like, for instance, brown versus border education night, you fifty four. How does that dichotomy? How do you? How do you mesh those ideas together such a great question, so I would start this way out. They look. A lot of us have been saying- and frankly, anthropologists have known this for a hundred and fifty years that the nose. That there are a few discreet races into which we, the human population, are biologically divided, such as.
We have more in common with those within our racial group than we with people in other Rachel group. That's just nonsense on stills is just ridiculous and part of the way the anthropologist figured that out, as they were really dedicated to prove that it is in fact true, but couldn't How many different ways they sliced and diced and parse the human population? We are different physically, we are familiar different in an hour are appearances, but those differences connect to our relative reproduction reproductive isolation when we're reproductive isolation from different groups, we tend to develop these overlooks but then
We are you know if you think about the history of colonialism in the modern world, were not really reproductive isolation with anybody any more in people mix. So the idea of race, as as of racial categories as sat and bounded by nature, complete lie, but it would be a tremendous mistake to then turn around So the whole thing is a fiction. Obviously that's not true. Obviously, racism is real. Obviously, the belief in racial categories are real. Obviously, race has tremendous patience for the way in which our society is structured, not just at a societal level, but at them at the most micro level, what our lives look like as individuals is deeply implicated by how workers shouldn't racially by these cultural practices. So that's the sort of social construction and now what you're bringing in his like? Ok! But what then are the forces that socially producers
and it's so important to recognise that racism is functional to pick up term that you used earlier that that racism is solving problems for certain groups, that route that that racism is justifying certain power relationships. Racism is justifying different types of inhumanity and brutality in oppression and exploitation. It knows are all we can say that in an inn in these abstract terms, but perhaps easiest waiting to see this inaction, is to think about the development of aid. Lack racial identity in North America, in the sixteen hundred when people from Africa were first brought as unfreezing labour to me states in sixteen nineteen. There was not yet a conception of a black race. What you did have was a system of european colonialists who organise the economy through
free labour through the exploitation of unfair labour and that on free labour included, these Africans brought to the northeastern seeber, but it also includes European Americans or Europeans, who are also held as unfair labour. Over the sixteen hundred we move to a system of slavery. What could be used to justify it initially jet justification is that people who are not christian but instead savage Can be deprived of any right to control their bodies or to control their labour, but that turned out to not be sufficiently stable, because people can convert and people can become christian and so by. The sixties
You begin to see laws around slavery that move from the language of christian versus savage to the language of black versus white. What is happening is race is being invented in order to justify the brutality that is inherent in a system in which people's bodies are controlled and exploited throughout their lifetime and then through their posterity, their children and their children's children, and so on down through the generations that
of barbarous exploitation of others requires a story. I just difficult oriented ology away for people to say it's, ok that I'm doing this to these other people because allow it turns out there not really people. After all, that's how racism is working and we should be Crystal clear- that's how racism still works today. This originated critical rest airy much like intersection out aid which plays a part, a rigid ADA with it when's and it was meant to be used as a lens in the law intersectionality. It was a means by which Professor Kimberl Crenshaw was thinking about how african american women could be discriminated against as women and discriminated against as being african american while white women and african american men experience different forms of discrimination, and you see this in the history of numerous movements, you see this in during the civil rights
in which african american women were often pushed out or even in the feminist movement in which african american women were once again pushed out. How do you think that dissemination of that of critical race theory and intersectionality outside of the law? How do you think that's gone so far, because I think that one of The challenges we face from we're having conversations about intersection reality when we're having conversations about critical race theory is that these ideas, when I have conversations with people who for whom they find a critical race theory, the concept objectionable when you have conversations about like racism is real while races, not these ideas, don't seem themselves objectionable. It's how these ideas are wielded that they do. How do you see that discrimination taking place will be back up unless moment? Let's talk
the role of law for a second, what happens with critical race theory? It originates in law. Why there's a confluence of different factors? Part of what's happening, is that in the late one, nine hundred and sixty civil rights protests extend to protest the way in which universities essentially remained segregated white spaces and universities begin a process of affirmative action that that financial numbers brings in as students a color for the first time the history of many of these universities and one of the places that have the greatest critical mass of students of color are law schools and so that partly there's that critical mass issue, but partly what's happening, is who's going to law school in the first place, it's many people who are themselves quite political, already, they're, going to law school,
They want to think about justice. They want to think about the way, the rule of law in organizing our society. Perhaps there inspired by Thurgood Marshal and a black civil rights movement which, after the late nineteen forty became quite a legal centric. So it's this cohort appeal We begin to really begin to grapple with racism as a social phenomena. Now let me emphasize this: they recover this metaphor of like the critical race theories. Kinda. How do we understand the economy? No one would suppose that you could be an expert in economics without rigorous study, and yet everybody support says that they understand race simply on the basis of their daily experience, and I think this is one of the challenges of talking in a meaningful way about critical race there. I think it's also on just thinking about that. I think it's because we not. Everyone plays basketball. Everyone has an experience of being a part of a racial group, and so you have allowed
People for whom there understand and I think that this gets at a question I want to get out later, which is about Kennedy. Is there an essential list or anti essential as nature the critical race area, where you have a lot of people who for whom with well I'm exe but I've never experienced x or I am, and I have experienced x. I think that plays a role as well yeah. I think you're right of how race works as an ideology is to reassure people that race is natural and self, wouldn't and easily understood, of course, that person is black, of course, that person is white, of course, that
she's latino oration. We know what it means and we don't need. Experts tell us and effects were, tell us something different they're lying to us, because races simply self evident that part of the idea that race is natural and biological. But of course, if not natural and biological, it's not self evident its. Instead, a complex cultural product that definitely shifts overtime in response to functional demands. Materials demands in society, and so here big here becomes dislike huge problem of trying to talk about race in sophisticated ways with people who I have no training in the area and be are convinced. They don't need it because races we as natural biological, easier already in these completely different positions. This applies to white, but it also applies to a lot of people of color right like you come into a conversation about raise, but
you haven't done a lot of reading. You haven't a lot of thinking and- and I don't mean just scholarly reading, though obviously it's I'm professionally obligated to promote that, but it could be so much of fiction, I think of Toni Morrison's work. What are first rate introduction to race theory right, so it could be fiction it and it can be a drama some music right, but you really need to spend time. Thinking critically about what races and how it works and if you haven't you're gonna struggle to try and understand all these different concepts and who and what they imply. So I want to get back that you mention it being disseminated or talked about in culture, but how do you think- It seems that there is a difference between culture and then there's a diversity training, that happened in workplaces and kind of how
I have argued often that a lot of friends our conversations about race often turn into a conversation about big something to the side of race. We don't want to look fully added. It's like looking at the sun, the first it some recent sir we're looking next to it, and there seemed a couple of problems First, there are trainings or an understanding of critical race theory that is so hinged on a specific understanding of what critical race theory means, or even what race means that seems to be. I would argue somewhat problematic, but also how we're even having these conversations about critical is there in the workplace or elsewhere that seem concerning. How does the transformation from this is an understanding, a theory, a lens through which to think about the world? How is that turned into an here's? What we're going to do about it? Here's how to deal
with it has there been a break in the chain along that transformation? Of course, of course, because what we are saying about raise is that it reflects a way to just I or explaining different power relationships, and now we can apply, same lands to understanding how diversity and inclusion, meanings work, for instance, or the poppy parity of one understanding of critical race theory that limits it to simply a discussion of implicit, biased. It is that is sort of woe an unconscious racism, its widely shared we stepped back and we say what's happening with diversity, inclusion or implicit bias. What we noticed is that we have institutions. That remain white dominant both in terms of their self conception in terms of their goals in terms the personnel in terms of their culture. These are white when it institutions
and how do you approach a white dominant institution and make the argument that they should grapple with racism that they should integrate? You can imagine approached at that says. Well, we wish talk with them about the way in which these are white, dominant and wait and and and white power actually needs to be broken and share, and you can imagine what the response is going to be, or you can see another approach in which you say, oh well, let's say to these organizations that actually their workforce is gonna, be more productive. It's more diverse, and that more voices should be welcome, that more voices tend to be more creative, and this will allow
to be more successful in marketing their projects in their wishes to all sorts of different committees, including communities of color that are so far untapped markets right. That is so much of what were taught the way we talk about race. Rough lacks an unequal distribution of power between groups that are categorized by race and its skews. How we talk about it and just bring implicit biased back in implicit biases is a very helpful concept that is popular not simply because of its analytic power. That is that, if you do know steeped in american culture, even turn Eliza racist ideas, but its popular, because it spreads the blame and thus erases the blame. All of us have internalized racist ideas. Therefore, none of us are popular and it turns out. This is a very comfortable way to talk about racism with racially privileged groups too, to essentially exonerate them
right, where it becomes a concept. I was asking some people about this, and that sounds like the concept of a ridge sin or blood liable of some kind of like we are all responsible, so no one is responsible and especially because I think that there is a debate among critical raced theories, where, if you have a essentially the argument of integration into spaces that have wielded power verses, challenging whether or not those basis should wield power in the first place. So is it better to diversify the Department of Homeland Security, or is it better to ask why we have a whole a department of Homeland Security and that guy gets to the materialists version? the cultural argument that I think a lot of people are having where I think, a lot of companies and a lot of people places that are holding these trainings are really comfortable with having the. We would much rather argue that all of us are deep.
Racist, so none of us are deeply racist. Then ask a lot of really big material questions about why we're? Even here, I think that's exactly right. Do I do want to also suggest a very important pivot that I, and that others are really trying to promote and envy you you just retorted at the very beginning, at the conversation, which is the relationship between racing class, so Derek Bell talks about this theory of interest convergence and it than at such an important insight, because what he says is raised is structured in such a way. It benefits whites. There will not be big advances in racial justice in till there's, a convergence of the interests of blacks and achieve the racial justice, plus the interests of some and segments of the white community. Any actually reduces it to a mathematical formula. Black interests plus wait interests equals racial justice. Remove one of those two. You don't get racial justice, but is also true.
Belle was operating from a paradigm that understood racism is fundamentally a hierarchy of whites over non whites, and this led to some deep pessimism on his part, because I ivory did some reading, especially on he wrote and will include this in the show notes, his page burn the Harvard LAW Review in eighteen. Eighty Brown versus board of Education in the interest convergence dilemma where he essentially argues that Brown basically traded the rights of whites, not to associate blacks in favour of the rights of blacks to associate with rights, and that there is, if it's a really interesting paper. But it is pessimistic who is also mistook when you come
Fine, it with a vision of racism is fundamentally a hierarchy of white over Non White, because, if that's what's happening and white gold most of the power, then there's no circumstance that you can imagine a which white interests are actually served by this establishing racism, and this leads bell to publish a book that subtitled the permanence of racism right like from this model, but I want to make clear interest. Convergence is actually laboratory and hopeful if you understand racism as also and indeed primarily, a weapon of powerful elites against all of us, because this changes what the interests of whites might be, and I think it s actually a more accurate description of racism
cross the four hundred years of history, this country, but especially over the last fifty years, because over the last two years we ve seen the party big business. The Republican Party formerly known as a party of big business, reconstitute itself as the Party of white grievance, at least in campaigning and governments, but in terms of worth actually doing it's actually rewarding billionaires and corporations. That is right now we're living in an era in which the main impetus behind white racism is not why people in general, it's the interest of powerful Elite, Donald Trump Mercer, the Coke brothers, all these dark money funded organizations their actively promoting racial fear and hysteria.
Because they profit from it and once we understand that and then bring back in interest convergence. Now we have a new possibility for change. Now we have a story that says your white folks, anti black. Racism is the biggest threat in your own lives because anti black racism. The news to mobilise you to vote for greedy elites who are rigging the economy for themselves, while they do nothing to stop the pandemic, while they do nothing to stop the quick approach of of climate collapse, your interest, whatever race you are, are best served by rejecting racism, rejecting racial division, building cross racial solidarity so that we have sufficient power to take our country back from these powerful, let's take a break, and then I want to dive a little bit more into that race and class which you've just written a book on. I want to dive a little bit more into that divide,
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P S, dot, org. So I'm interested in this. I am so glad that you mentioned the book that you have written on this subject, because I think that that is something that, from the last we ve seen a lot of conversation about, and I hate this term. I am going to use airports because podcasting, as are very heavily visual, medium term identity, politics, identity, parts as being a distraction from classed issues and that the use of race is a cudgel. That is being used from the right and from the far left might argue, this and your left to distract from the means by which corporations are, for instance, talking about black lives matter on Instagram, while funding terrible things that hurt folks. The bottom of the ladder of all races now
I would argue that all politics as identity politics, the g I bill- was identity. Politics, housing bells are identity. Politics. If you have an identity. Congratulations were participating and identity politics, but I'm interested in how you see that relationship. The idea its rays versus class, and your arguing in your book that it can be raised and class that we can think about these issues, because I think for me, Historically, the time in the United States of the least income inequality was in the early nineteen fifties and the time of the highest union membership took place at a time when which unions were heavily segregated, What we've seen is my colleague as recline wrote in his book. Why we're polarized that our time of least political polarization happens when the political space was largely one in which everyone involved was white and mail. You can be a southern democratic
or northern Republican, and you can all come together and make an agreement, because Europe basically very similar to one another. How do you see addressing that divide and bringing those interests together? How do you see that working effectively? So, let's call one group, the class, and the class left actually tells a story similar to the one you just told about this sort of a day of the unions and a time when people could really focus on class issues in it? when it was recognized. Yes, there's some racial issues. Those are racial issues that played committee, of color and even for he's a color. The main issues are classed issues so that stop focusing on the restless focus on class. If we just saw the class issues that would get us so far toward social justice in a week deal with what we have to deal with in terms of some later you might,
I recognise that in Bernie Sanders rhetoric up until the last few months of the most recent cap, pain is really like classes. The main issue, all of us face including people of color, and indeed ignoring racism in favor of class based solidarity is a racial justice approach, because people of color, disproportionately poor poured will disproportionately benefit from our new class politics. So here's the of here's, the fundamental stake. Racial division is the number one weapon of the rich in the class war. They are winning and you can turn around and say great well, let's ignore their number one weapon. That's a recipe for disaster. What is it that took the white working, a middle classes away from the Democratic Party dog?
so racial fear campaigns. Racism is the number one weapon of the rich in the class war there, winning the one that's bliss, bring us back to the story of the nineteen fifties. Many White Lou Tell a story in which Democrats did not discover shall I racial issues until nineteen sixty four when Lyndon Johnson the Civil Rights ACT and then immediately generated a backlash among whites in the south and across the rest of the country that simply wrong as a matter of history Democrats were unable to national elections? After the late nineteenth thirties, without the support of African Americans and African Americans supported Democrats, because even though the benefits of the new deal were disproportionately reserved for white, African Americans were still much better off under the new deal. So Democrats, then they were supporting Republicans and certainly if they lived in the south right. So
coalition. That produces great advances, economic equality? For America is a black and white coalition from the late nineteenth Thirty's on what changes in the nineteen sixties is the party of Big business figures out how leverage, increasing white anxiety about racial equality into the mass defection of whites from the party of working people to the Party of big business, and here's where your comment about identity politics is, is so right. There's a great book called democracy for realists that reduces to this point the fundamental questions that all of us ask as we engage in politics more politics. How do we organise our society? The fundamental questions we ask, Who am I in the society who threatens me tour, my allies and every one of us,
is asking those questions. Those are the questions around which Donald Trump organizes every one of his campaign stops he's telling a story in which we are the good deserving people, often coded as right? The people who threaten us are bad, violent and undeserving, often quoted as Non white, and our allies are. The business leaders who are gonna drive this economy rather than allow people to be betrayed by liberals who support these undeserving. Violent people of color he's telling story and stories that identity story that kicked the economic populism we can organise on class sort of approach, failed, failed against an identity story, every
One of us is organizing our lives in terms of identity politics, so I'm interested there is actually a fascinating up at that came out from the New York Times as last year that in what she actually you, I noted- and I would be fascinated here- your thoughts on this. His thought on the issue of how we think about race and especially in relation to the nineteen sixty two story of nineteen sixty is the one that he argues that many on the left the centre left hold right now is one that is very much about African Americans and White Americans and is very much reflective of a time. The nineteen sixty in which Erika was majority whites, and this is a for immigration. Laws shifted in the maid. Nineteen
sixties. And so now the story of race in America is far more complex and their very much is a sense that how the understanding of race works for Latinos, which for one the even the term latino, doesn't really get at the diversity of a community that could include people from dozens of countries and tens of millions of people and Asians, which is very much similar either. If your story is going to be very different, if you are
someone who emigrated from Thailand forty years ago or someone who emigrated from China fifteen years ago. So how do you think critical race theory can think about how these groups interrelate with one another, because again the understanding of what race means in the individual lives of people who are whose experiences of racism are not on a black verses white paradigm? How do you think that understanding is different? And how do you think it fits into how we talk about raised today? I think that do fat, Op Ed, was half right, but his conclusion is entirely wrong. So let me introduce a different term, so I just spoken about the class left and the point of view of the class left is that we should
to the extent possible, minimize attention to racial issues and stress what supposedly brings us together class issues, and this fails because it ignores racism. There's another group that I would call the race left, and I think that that is really criticizing. The race left, and I think that actually has a very important point. The race left perspective is that we are indeed locked into a racial conflict in the United States. Trump says we're locked into conflict between whites and people of color, and you should stand with whites and the race last says. Yes, we are locked into a conflict between whites and people of color and you should stand with people of color, and now it doesn't take someone who's like super sophisticated political. It analyst to see that if you say to white folks, hey we're locked into a conflict between whites and people of color, you should stand with people of color you'll get some, but most are going to say. I think I'm going to go to the coast and with white people
that's Donald Trump, and so, when do that says, this is not a great way to build. A coalition he's exactly right, Anna, and I know that much because it stands to reason, but because for the last several years I've been condemn. Studies on how you build cross racial solidarity that rejects messages or racial fear and actually creates an ethos, have taken care of each other, and I've tried this hey. Let's denounce white racism approach, and it fails. It not only fails among wise, but it actually fails among many people that we see as people of color it's not especially popular among african Americans, and it loses big among Latinos, but from their do fax goes on to say: okay, the left should not. Organized around racism- wouldn't it be great until race is just one of those big boring issues and unlike r r? U high! Look at twenty. Sixteen look at twenty twenty.
Nothing boring about the fact that we have a president who spends all his time stoking racial fear in conflict and his driving this country towards violence all the time. That's where we're going. The big mistake from do that, and also from many liberals, is to conclude that if we can't talk about white racism, we shouldn't talk about racism at all, and this is the pivot that I think the race left needs make we need to talk about racial division. We need to talk about the way in which racism has been weapon eyes, but we need to be clear. The main culprit is not white people in general, the main culprits are political elites doing the bidding of some of them. Wealthiest segments of America who are funding fuelling and stoking racial fear all the time and with vat pivot our reach. Shows. You can actually build across ratio
Let me put this more pointedly. The most powerful political message out there today, right or left, is a political message that says we all want the same thing four kids, no matter what we look like a white where we come from, but powerful Elise right now are pushing conflict because they profit when we fear and fight each other. We must reject division, come together across our differences and take power back for ourselves so that we can take care of our families, and everybody else is as well that message wines is the most powerful political message for effort Americans for electing aspiration Americans and for whites as well, more powerful, even than the doorway dog, was racial fear message and certainly more powerful than the message from the class left. Let's, nice on class issues but ignore race and more powerful than the message from the race laughed organized around fighting white racism, so I want to take another.
Eric, and then I want to talk a little bit about what the conclusions of critical race theory have to tell us about ourselves. If you're, having trouble meeting your goals focusing at work, if you have feeling stressed you're having trouble sleeping better help is here for you, it's not a self help class and it's not a crisis line. Better help is secure online professional counseling with real licensed therapist to have the tools to help you feel better. Just fill out a questionnaire about how you're doing and better help will match you with your own licensed therapist in under forty eight hours, no more awkward, therapist waiting rooms, no more limitations than the type of experts in your area and in between weekly appointments. If you need some more guidance, you can send free, unlimited messages to your counselor, who will get back to you with timely thoughtful answers and if the matching of the therapist doesn't feel just right, better help will quickly help find a new one for free, but help is a more affordable option than traditional therapy, and financial aid is available. Therapy is great. I've done at different times in my life
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not a lender terms and programme rules apply one of the challenges and there is a conservative writer David french shoes written about this, and I think that this is something that critical race theorists. Think about. A lot is the idea that individuals are not, in general, great representatives of larger groups, and so I think one of the challenges here is, while a group prejudice, impacts, individuals, individuals themselves might say like I've, never had. This happened to me, or my experience has been different so that there is a debate among critical rest years about the idea of a centralism about the idea of, and I think that that something that's gotten a lot of criticism from outside or circles of the idea of you exist twist in this system. You are this system,
How do you think about how individuals play with within critical race theory and how essential ism or Anti Antiessentialism works within this relationship? One of the core insights. Indeed, the word critical in critical race, The word critical was a gesture towards european thinking about the way in which societies socially constitute it. We are not structured in terms of transcendental truths, the We are not driven primarily by reason. Objectivity is not possible. We cannot step outside our society. We are all ultimately social creatures and our societies influence who we are influence. What we can imagine provide the material out of which we construct our sense of self, now? Having said that, are you you can take that in a sort of em, a nihilistic dread
direction worry cycle. Won't. You know, I am nothing a drone known all nonsense. That's one of the things that that marked critical race theory, as distinct from a different movement there was prominent among white legal academics, critical legal studies, critical legal studies, headed took the philosophy ran with it to its to these extreme conclusions, whereas critical race, there said we want a set of, that help us understand social dynamics, because we are deeply committed to changing those dynamics, as though these theories much be pragmatic and practical in their application, and so here, where we get this idea of like yes, we existence that is itself deeply structured in terms of ideas we need to make. We make ourselves within the constraints of that society, but we do have agency. We do have power. We can invasion something we call justice. We can strive to promote that idea. We can build
she's with others. We can debate and promote your vision of who we are and who we want to be an that's, always been at the heart of critical racer. Is there a tension between an idea of individual agency and all of us being socially constituted, of course, and
Is that resolvable not at all, should we get hung up there? Please don't there's too much other important work that needs to be done. I want to go back to talk a little bit about what critical race theory means in terms of the law and something about progress there that I find particularly challenging is essentially within the legal tenants. The idea of in some senses rejecting the concept or some do the rejecting the concept of rights writ large. So, for example, the idea of the right to vote or the idea of people having rights within the legal system, and rather there are some critical risk, there's a who have a very different perspective on the idea of rights. Could you talk?
what that perspective has looked like among academics and what that means in a real politics sense, so you, and if you think, about the founding of the country, the idea was that there were a set of rights that, in here in human beings as human beings there they these rights were to use the phrase inalienable. I there's something natural about them and that these rights were how greater than any human society, and that the best society could do was approximate those rights and along european critical thought? And it says everything we do as a society is socially produced in God's? Not. This, and there are rights that exist in nature, we're making the stuff up and now, from there you can go in a couple of different directions. One direction is to say, therefore it's all missed
fiction and lie and you're being duped to talk in the language of rights and many people went there especially critical legal studies, but I think a more sophisticated response is to say: okay, these ideas are culturally produced, including a culturally produced. Sense that these are bigger than any of us and that these make real moral demands on society, and that change happens through people's belief in these rights. How can that be harnessed? How is that worked? What has what purposes have that served? How can that be created? How can that be promoted? And I think this is where critical race there broke with critical legal studies was about the efficacy of rights because critical race? There is good turn around and say we would not be here, but for the civil rights movement and yes, rights may be socially produced, but they are powerful things. People will imbue them with love with hope with care. They will pay
their bodies, on the line for those rights and when they march they can change society, and I think that has to be our understanding of rights. Not always in a sort of a laudatory celebratory way. The right understands is to know the way in which the right promotes the idea that its part sends who are mainly reacting terms, a racial fear or instead upholding constitutional rights, defending the constitution to the so called, oh he paused for a right wing militia that is prepared to use violence against their fellow citizens, but they say to themselves, were defending the constitution or were the second amendment. Rights are a form of fundamentalism and fundamentalism can write this belief that this is foundation or that this is fundamental, that this cannot be question that this is so much bigger than all of us. That can be a powerful force for labour,
should I can kick him? Give people the courage to move, but it can also be manipulated and be a force of a reactionary movement, the deed me others. So I think I want to conclude asking you if you needed to explain, because, as we said, that a lot of the ways in which people have focused on critical race theory have focus on the cultural versus the material rather than asking questions about unions, or that you the way that outsourcing has played in two economic inequality, theirs
much much of focus, focus on eliminating cultural racism of some senses of make ensuring representation, businesses, businesses or films, for example. Clearly both of those can matter but there's definitely definitely been a side which businesses have decided to emphasize. How do you think that critical race theory could be effective and truly wielded effectively in order to generate change when it is not just a lens to think about how we think about race, but also a means by which to make how we think about race, better I think I was always the aspiration of critical race theory to be a practical route towards justice, while also being constantly self critical, because it's hard to know what justice is and it's hard to know what the best route is In fact we can say now. I think with hindsight. The civil rights movement probably
a wrong turn in the You fifties and ninety sixties, as it began to stress legal in for but of integration and gave up on some the earlier more radical demands of actual sharing of power and resources and jobs rates out so in this is always tricky button always been the aspiration accredit grace here in, and I will say that challenge the big challenge for, critical. Racy right now and for all of us is to recognise that racism and other social hierarchies are not things in themselves. Their proxies for power and the most important thing we can do is think critically about how power
circulating in our society, who has it how's it wielded how's it justified? Who does it harm? Who does it exploit? That's a conversation that will get us to think about the relationship between race and class, but also, I think, puts us in a better position to recognize that human societies have always confronted the challenge of a very few capturing power for themselves and using social ideas, social institutions, Cultural formed to justify their power and our immigration and the challenge of every human societies, to figure out beliefs and institutions and practices that take power and wash it downward an outward to as many of us as possible. Right now, that's an incredibly important conversation about race about class, about patriarchy about it,
gracious about xenophobia, religious bigotry. These are fundamentally conversations about power and the goal should be understand power in a way that protects and empowers as many of us as possible. Well, thank you so much for a really interesting- and I think am hopeful helpful conversation thanks to all of you for listening and to our produce just go, and the weeds will return on Friday.
Transcript generated on 2021-05-14.