Critical Race Theory and New Racism

John David

CounterCurrent: Week of 9/27


You’ve heard of racism. And you’re probably familiar with its “systemic,” “institutional,” and/or “structural” forms which, many allege, pervade every aspect of American society and history. Maybe you’re also privy to critical theory, the Marxism-derived philosophy that “provides the descriptive and normative bases for social inquiry aimed at decreasing domination and increasing freedom in all their forms [freedom used loosely here].”

How about critical theory’s many ideological children, including, queer theory, women’s and gender studies, postcolonialism, structuralism, post-scructuralism, deconstruction, reconstructivism, or intersectionality? Like an onion, all of these modern disciplines can be peeled back to reveal an embedded core of social Marxism. Marx and Engels couldn’t have dreamed that the fruits of their labor would hold such sway in 21st-century American academia.

But these ideologies are not limited to the walls of the ivory tower—one key offshoot of critical theory made national headlines last week, namely critical race theory (CRT). Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Trump administration issued a memorandum which relays President Trump’s orders to 

… identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should ... cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these un-American propaganda training sessions.”

But what exactly is critical race theory, and how did it become so mainstream that it even pervades federal trainings? Does it deserve the label of “un-American propaganda” that President Trump and others have given it? Is it indeed so dangerous as to warrant the revocation of Federal funding?

Here to help is Ray Sanchez, writing for Minding the Campus, who in this week’s featured article provides a concise yet robust definition of CRT and its constituent parts. Sanchez wrote this essay both for those unfamiliar with CRT and for those “knee-deep in personal research about Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity who are in need of a simple and concise description that binds the D.I.E. trinity together.”

Sanchez also dissects what he calls the “essential ingredient” of critical race theory: New Racism. He writes that “New Racism is ubiquitous and baked-in to all of society, and CRT provides the philosophical underpinning, as well as the job description, to get the ‘anti-racist’ work done to deconstruct every American institution.” After all, that is the logical endpoint of these newfangled ideologies, despite their proponents’ claims to pursue “freedom,” “equality/equity,” and/or “liberation.”

Any and all interested in gaining a greater understanding of the basic claims of critical race theory and New Racism will find Sanchez’s essay helpful—I encourage you to read through it as you think through these philosophies yourself. They won’t be going anywhere any time soon.


CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Administrative Associate John David. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Gustave Doré, illustration to Dante’s Inferno, Plate VIII: Canto III: The gate of Hell. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” Public Domain.

  • Share

Most Commented

October 6, 2020

1.

Pulitzer Board Must Revoke Nikole Hannah-Jones' Prize

We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in “The 1619 Project.” ...

May 15, 2015

2.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

July 28, 2020

3.

Exclusive: UT Austin Proposes Political Litmus Tests for Hiring and Promotion

The University of Texas at Austin has proposed the “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Strategic Plan," exchanging merit-based success for identity-based dive...

Most Read

October 6, 2020

1.

Pulitzer Board Must Revoke Nikole Hannah-Jones' Prize

We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in “The 1619 Project.” ...

May 15, 2015

2.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 5, 2020

3.

Tom Klingenstein on Cancel Culture and 1619

The issues that cancel culture presents are not new, but they are powerful in a way that we haven’t seen in generations. Complacency is, unfortunately, not an option....