It’s been very hard to pin down just what Critical Race Theory actually is. A lot of the proposed definitions and descriptions seem to be formulated by people with axes to grind, and the rest seem flexible enough that they can be stretched to include or exclude anything desired. Trying to decide whether CRT is being taught (or used) in a school is like trying to nail Kool-Aid to a wall.
These may be useful toward a serious understanding.
First, William Galston writes,
Critical race theory is an explicitly left-wing movement inspired by the thinking of an Italian neo-Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Against classic Marxism, for which material conditions are primary, Gramsci (1891-1937) focused on “hegemony”—the system of beliefs that “reinforces existing social arrangements and convinces the dominated classes that the existing order is inevitable,” as Ms. Crenshaw puts it.
Noteworthy because Galston is center-left. He is burning some bridges here.
Helen Pluckrose writes,
Rather than quibbling over whether what critics are criticising is really the theories that emerged in legal studies from the 1970s, let’s address the reality of what critical theories of race look like right now and how they are impacting real people of all races.
In much of the essay, Pluckrose really gets into the theoretical weeds, even though she points out that a different CRT has been popularized than what was created in academia. This reminds me of Keynesian economics in grad school, where there were all sorts of esoteric discussions of what Keynes really meant and what Keynesian economics ought to be. Meanwhile, what took hold in the press and in public policy is what I call “folk” Keynesianism, which is nothing more than “spending creates jobs, and jobs create spending.” The academic arguments matter only to the academics.
Similarly, I expect that academic discussions of critical race theory no longer affect “folk” critical race theory, or FCRT, if you will. FCRT is what K-12 teachers and journalists carry with them. I think it includes a belief in the moral inferiority of white males. It includes a belief that “privilege” is a very important concept. I think it includes some Puritan sensibilities, particularly an unforgiving stance regarding heretics. But these are tentative thoughts about FCRT. I do not feel confident that I have it pinned down yet.
Source: Two CRT links