Saturday, October 24, 2020

On Critical Race Theory

Conservative British MP, Kemi Badenoch, insisted that Critical Race Theory is somehow illegal, so I'm just going to save this rebuttal here: 

This is a Twitter thread from Kojo Koram - @KojoKoram - professor of law Birkbeck: 

"A thread on the new bogeyman of “critical race theory”: Kemi Badenoch. Watching dim-witted Tory junior ministers try to get their heads around the works of Derrick Bell, Patricia Williams and some of the most-decorated legal scholars of the last 50 years would be funny if this wasn’t so serious. Clearly, Google has told them that critical race theory is just people shouting about “white privilege” etc so here is an idiot’s guide to CRT to help: CRT emerged out of Harvard law in the 80’s in an attempt to explain the contradictions between the legal equality achieved through the civil rights struggle and the ongoing visible difference in the impact of the law across racial groups. This is the heart of CRT. Pretty simple isn’t it. There are certainly critiques that can be made of the tradition (I see it as having become too detached from political economy, for one) but to pretend it is a dangerous, illegitimate sphere of academic inquiry is just pathetic. 
CRT started with the material reality. Look at your cities. Look at your prisons. If law is blind, why does property law, criminal law etc seem to punish some groups more than others? You don’t care about this, fine, good for you. But you also want to stop others from caring? The same people who would defend the right of Charles Murray to talk about how Black people have lower IQ’s on the grounds of free speech are now cheering a government banning teachers trying to explain the difference between legal equality and material inequality. In the UK, Black people are stopped + searched nearly 10x white people. 40% of young people in custody are BME. If your explanation for this is anything other than ‘Blacks are just naturally/culturally more criminal’… then congratulations, you have just started doing CRT!"

Kuba Shand-Baptiste, writing in the Independent suggests that Badenoch was used for her race, which makes it all even worse. 

"In right and far-right circles, the framework has been demonised as some kind of covert attempt to victimise black people, giving them an unwarranted leg-up. . . . What we witnessed on Tuesday could have been lifted straight out of Trump’s playbook. As recently as September, the US president echoed many of the false claims about the theory we saw this week in parliament. . . . If I had a pound for every time a Tory MP of colour has been wheeled out following government charges of discrimination, or indifference towards tackling racism and/or improving inclusion, I’d probably rack up enough to fund the free school meals the government has refused this winter. The appointment of Badenoch to equalities minister (as well as numerous others with questionable dedication to anti-racism efforts), after a long record of roundly dismissing the far-reaching impact of racism, is one example of that indifference. The government’s approach will escalate from here regardless of the challenges it will continue to be met with. Thankfully, its insistence on losing the support of large sections of the public each day may well help to further expose the ridiculousness of its approach to racism. I hope our equalities minister understands the full scope of her role by the time this happens."

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