Critical Race Theory

Like many intellectual currents, Critical Race Theory’s origins and status differ depending on how its founding narrative is understood. According to Delgado and Stefancic’s Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (2017), Critical Race Theory (CRT) begins with Derrick Bell and others who explored the application of “critical theory” to law. The first workshop explicitly oriented around “Critical Race Theory” was held in 1989, and among others were present: Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Mari Matsuda,and Patricia Williams.

Critical Race Theory begins with and explores the premises that racism is the norm and not an exception to society, that the privileging of Whiteness over non-Whiteness serves important social and material purposes, that race is a social construction that is real yet does not correspond to biological reality, and that dominant societies racialize minorities in particular ways.

Introductory Works

  • Crenshaw, Kimberlé, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, 1996.
  • Delgado, Richard. Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 2013.
  • Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, 2017.

Key Texts

  • Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2020.
  • Bell, Derrick A. “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory.” U. Ill. L. Rev., 1995, 893.
  • Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Indigenous Americas. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
  • Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99.
  • Lorde, G. A. (1984). “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” From Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (pp. 110-113). Berkeley, CA: The Crossing Press.
  • Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (September 8, 2012).

Background Reading

  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones. “Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory in Education.” The Urban Review 37, no. 5 (December 2005): 425–46.
  • Massey, Douglas S. “Racial Formation in Theory and Practice: The Case of Mexicans in the United States.” Race and Social Problems 1, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 12–26.
  • Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015.
  • Valdes, Francisco. “Theorizing ‘OutCrit’ Theories: Coalitional Method and Comparative Jurisprudential Experience-RaceCrits, QueerCrits and LatCrits.” University of Miami Law Review 53, no. 4 (July 1, 1999): 1265.
  • Winant, Howard. “Race and Race Theory.” Annual Review of Sociology 26 (2000): 169–85.

Historic Origins

  • Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk, 1961.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880. New York: Free Press, 1998.
  • Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks, 2020.
  • Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth, 2017.