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It’s quite irritating to parents constantly hearing school boards, superintendents and teachers spout off that critical race Theory does not exist in K-12 schools. The most common reason given – “critical race theory is only found in legal studies”. However, that’s not entirely true now is it?. While critical race Theory did indeed arise in the 1970’s as a movement. It originated as a  critical study of law as it relates to top issues of race– it eventually leaked out of legal studies and seeped into disciplines related to social justice. Most strongly affected discipline by critical race Theory (and the biggest cause of parental concerns) is the theory of pedagogy (education, especially in K-12 education). 

Critical race Theory ideas are being used to understand issues of K-12 school discipline, order, affirmative action, testing, history, curriculum, lessons, bilingual and multicultural education (as observed by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic). 

Delgado and Stefancic have even acknowledged that the secure positions of critical race Theory based on how effectively and quickly these positions allow for further progress and development– it efficiently allows critical race Theory to embed itself into education (such as K-12 education).

“Critical” as far as critical race theory goes, is defined implies that the main goal and methods are explicitly geared towards recognizing and uncovering issues to assist the progress of revolutionary political change. 

Critical race Theory is:

  • Social significance is placed into racial categories
  • Instigates racism
  • Usually Theoretical
  • Utilizes postmodern knowledge
  • Uses political principles
  • It’s aggressive
  • Asserts its importance in all aspects of social justice
  • Originates from the assumption that racism is ordinary and permanent, always and in any place
  • Anything that the marginalized consider racist is indeed now racist
  • Hidden or overt racial offenses are actively sought out until they are found
  • Alternative or mitigating explanations are not allowed
  • Any interaction between whites and people of color must be characterized by white supremacy (which is where the postmodern principle comes into play). This means that K-12 teachers are now expected to draw attention to white supremacy in order for it to be broken down and rebuilt.
  • Racism is utterly unforgivable
  • Can easily result in hostility towards marginalized groups
  • Critical race Theory states:

That racism is embedded in American culture

That white people are naturally racists

That because racism is the combination of prejudice and power, only white people can be racist

Only people of color are allowed to speak of racism and white people must listen to them

White people do not have the “racial stamina” to engage in conversation about racism

Not seeing people in terms of race is racist (“color-blind”)

“Color-blindness” is an attempt by white people to ignore extensive racism which dominates American society

Color-blindness maintains white privilege

(New Discourses)


Ending racism is the main goal behind critical race Theory and intersectionality and this is done by making everyone always aware of race. Intersectionality is at the core of critical race Theory and also exists outside of critical race Theory on it’s own. In the Late 1980’s-1990’s female critical Theorists promoted radical black feminist thought, including bell hooks. Scholars obscured the lines of academic disciplines, and at the same time argued about both male centric society and white supremacy which blended legal with the sociological, abstract, and personal in explicitly gendered ways. This ultimately opened the door for today’s more recent Theorists such as Kimberle Crenshaw.

It’s crucial to note here that Kimberle Crenshaw was a student of Derrick Bell (“father of critical race Theory) who helped him create the term “critical race theory”. Crenshaw created the concept of intersectionality. Intersectionality began as a tool that helps a person uncover something for themselves; however, it’s treated as a theory and described by Crenshaw now as a “practice”. 

Today, intersectionality is an important framework within social justice (especially when it comes to the tenets of critical race Theory). Intersectionality is used as an analytical tool for social justice. The interconnections on intersectionality are rooted in postmodern principles and themes, while utilizing social justice. The concept of privilege is embraced by intersectionality. This concept is often repeated to the point that it becomes bullying (which I think many of us can relate to at this point). Intersectionality also can cause division even though we are told it aims to bring unity.

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