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What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical race theorists observe that even if the law is couched in neutral language, it cannot be neutral because those who fashioned it had their own subjective perspectives that, once enshrined in law, have disadvantaged minorities and even perpetuated racism.
Critical Race Theory: An Annotated Bibliography
This Bibliography lists and annotates the major entries within the CRT corpus. For each entry we have supplied a brief summary, together with one or more numbers corresponding to a list of major Critical Race themes. Although we have aimed at completeness, we have not attempted to list every article that arguably could be included within the CRT corpus. Short pieces that seemed duplicative of a scholar's previous work were omitted, as were articles dealing with the legal problems of African-Americans or people of color in general.
Researching Critical Race Theory in HeinOnline
Critical race theory is a concept that has been around for decades but became a hot topic of discussion in 2020 after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans by police officers. During this time, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, reversed earlier this year by President Joe Biden. Trump also claimed during the White House Conference on America History that the The 1619 Project distorts and rewrites American history, which has since sparked the fight over critical race theory being taught in public schools.
The Shaw Claim: The Rise and Fall of Colorblind Jurisprudence
This article reconsiders colorblind theory's efficacy and demands further reformulation and reexamination. Section I of this article addresses Shaw v. Reno's historical, political, and economic context. Section II examines how the legal strategy of a deracialized narrative and colorblind theory captured the unexamined minds of the judiciary. Section III challenges the premise that using race and color to determine election methods and district lines “threatens to carry us further from the goal of a political system in which race no longer matters and explores the Supreme Court's theory of political integration. Section III presents Shaw v. Reno's factual vacuum and aspirational colorblind narrative juxtaposed with the massive factual investigations required of federal voting rights claims. Section IV draws a line from Plessy v. Ferguson to Shaw v. Reno to present-day litigation that advances colorblind theory. Section IV also examines jurisprudence severed from the hallowed ground of data. Section V lays a foundation for color-conscious jurisprudence offered by Supreme Court dissents of Justices Brennan, White, Blackmun, Stevens, Marshall, and Souter, which envision a judicial evolution to reformulate the unfit principles of colorblind theory. That section demands the critical need to raise the judicial level of consciousness, and develop new jurisprudence founded in strengthening the body politic and advancing democratic principles through race-conscious remedies.
In Defense of the Black/White Binary: Reclaiming a Tradition of Civil Rights Scholarship
We turn in Part III to the theoretical arguments regarding the black/white binary. Here, we argue that African-American scholars have not suggested that non-black racial groups should be accorded second-class civil rights status. Rather, African-American scholars of any stature embrace the multiple-binary approach reflected in civil rights law. The fact that black scholars focus on white-on-black racial problems in their scholarship is natural given their experiences as black Americans and the tradition of black scholarship. Yet, critical theorists have attacked this tradition of black scholarship on anti-binary grounds. We address the three most compelling anti-binary criticisms offered by critical theorists: (1) the binary ignores the histories of other racial groups, thereby distorting our understanding of civil rights history;32 (2) it ignores interest convergence and thus threatens natural alliances among outsiders, especially people of color;33 and, related to the latter criticism, (3) it is predicated upon a false notion of “black uniqueness.”34 In considering each of these criticisms, we argue that the black/white binary--which, again, is most properly understood to mean the focus on white-on-black racial problems--makes very good sense to African Americans based on their racial reality. Those who would reject the binary, and would have black scholars do likewise, have simply ignored this fact of life. Why can't binaries co-exist in civil rights scholarship as they do in civil rights law?
The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act: the Cold Case of Racism in the Criminal Justice System
This Note seeks to explore one answer to this question by interrogating the “narrative” of racism embraced by Congress in enacting the law. In light of the racial inequality that continues to pervade the American criminal justice system, the passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act attempts to close a chapter in American history by effectively turning a blind eye to the complex workings of racism. The discourses evident in the legislative history and the language of the statute itself fail to recognize the continuing role that racism plays in the criminal justice system. Rather, these discourses coalesce into a narrative of American racism that is limited to intentional acts of racial terrorism perpetrated against innocent victims, a reality of racism which these discourses assert has all but faded completely into America's distant past. By utilizing this narrative of American racism, the symbolic reach of the Act moves beyond an effort at righting past wrongs to perpetuating the very evil the Act is intended to combat-racism in the criminal justice system.
Race and Selective Legal Memory: Reflections on Invention of a Slave
In 1858, the United States Attorney General issued an opinion, Invention of a Slave, declaring inventions by African Americans, enslaved and free, unpatentable. Within a few years, legal changes that abolished the law of slavery rendered the opinion obsolete, and it became forgotten, dropped from legal memory. Combining history and Critical Race Theory, this Essay repositions the opinion as a remembered legal story and argues that law's selective memory has carried a cost. I excavate the generations of African American activists who researched and wrote about the opinion and its backstory of an enslaved blacksmith who invented an innovative plow. Setting their storytelling in the context of post-Emancipation advocacy for the “rights of belonging,” I demonstrate the political stakes of their efforts in the relationship among inventive ability, patents, and citizenship. I reflect on my first encounters with Invention of a Slave as an obscure part of the antebellum past and on the new perspective gained from this history of remembering. I argue that these stakes persist, making this story part of the living present of race and law. I use this personal storytelling to consider the costs of legal forgetting and the possibilities of mitigation both in this case study, with implications for the patent system and our ongoing national conversation about paths to citizenship, and in the broader projects of curating law's memory and fulfilling law's formal promises of racial equality.
Critical Race Theory by
Critical race theory has become a dynamic, eclectic, and growing movement in the study of law. Here, editors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic have created a reader for the 21st century - one that shakes up the legal academy, questions comfortable liberal premises, and leads the search for new ways of thinking about our nation's most intractable, and insoluble, problem - race.
Call Number: LAW KF 4755 .C75 2000
Publication Date: 2013-06-15
Was Blind, but Now I See by
"Race" does not speak to most white people. Rather, whites tend to associate race with people of color and to equate whiteness with racelessness. As Barbara J. Flagg demonstrates in this important book, this "transparency" phenomenon--the invisibility of whiteness to white people-- profoundly affects the ways in whites make decisions: they rely on criteria perceived by the decisionmaker as race-neutral but which in fact reflect white, race-specific norms. Flagg here identifies this transparently white decisionmaking as a form of institutional racism that contributes significantly, though unobtrusively, to the maintenance of white supremacy. Bringing the discussion to bear on the arena of law, Flagg analyzes key areas of race discrimination law and makes the case for reforms that would bring legal doctrine into greater harmony with the recognition of institutional racism in general and the transparency phenomenon in particular. She concludes with an exploration of the meaning of whiteness in a pluralist culture, paving the way for a positive, nonracist conception of whiteness as a distinct racial identity. An informed and substantive call for doctrinal reform, Was Blind But Now I See is the most expansive treatment yet of the relationship between whiteness and law.
Call Number: KF 4757 .F59 1998
Publication Date: 1997-12-01
Derrick A. Bell
Professor Derrick Bell developed critical race theory, a body of legal scholarship that explores how racism is embedded in laws and legal institutions. And more broadly, over the course of his five-decade career, he worked to expose the persistence of racism.
"From his work on the front lines of legal argument in the civil rights movement to his pathbreaking teaching and scholarship on civil rights and racial justice issues, Professor Derrick Bell inspired and challenged generations of colleagues and students with imagination, passion and courage." - Harvard Dean Emerita Martha Minow “
Works by Professor Bell (at the Law Library)
Faces at the Bottom of the Well
The noted civil rights activist uses allegory and historical example to present a radical vision of the persistence of racism in America. These essays shed light on some of the most perplexing and vexing issues of our day: affirmative action, the disparity between civil rights law and reality, the racist outbursts" of some black leaders, the temptation toward violent retaliation, and much more.
Call Number: E 185.615 .B395 1992
Publication Date: 1993-10-06
And We Are Not Saved
From the pioneering legal scholar and bestselling author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well, a compelling investigation of racial justice in America In And We Are Not Saved, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell employs a series of dramatic fables and dialogues to probe the foundations of America's racial attitudes and raise disturbing questions about the nature of our society. How have we failed to achieve racial equality, Bell asks--and why? What does this failure mean--for black people and for whites? Where do we go from here? Should we redirect the quest for racial justice? Guided by these questions, Bell aims to provoke discussion that will provide new insights and prompt more effective strategies for pursuing racial justice.
Call Number: LAW E185.615 .B39 1987
Publication Date: 1989-03-31
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