Race Is-- Race Isn't: Critical Race Theory and Qualitative Studies in Education

Race Is-- Race Isn't: Critical Race Theory and Qualitative Studies in Education

Race Is-- Race Isn't: Critical Race Theory and Qualitative Studies in Education

Race Is-- Race Isn't: Critical Race Theory and Qualitative Studies in Education

Synopsis

The field of critical race theory has gotten increasingly more attention as an emerging perspective on race, the law, and policy. Critical race theory examines the social construction of the law, administrative policy, electoral politics, and political discourse in the U. S. Race Is … Race Isn't presents a group of qualitative research studies, literature reviews, and commentaries that collectively articulate critical race theory in secondary and post-secondary educational settings. The editors explore links and conflicts with other areas of difference, including language, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, with the goal of opening a dialogue about how critical race theory can be incorporated into education research methodologies.

Excerpt

Critical race theory (CRT) is an exciting, revolutionary intellectual movement that puts race at the center of critical analysis. Although no set of doctrines or methodologies defines critical race theory, scholars who write within the parameters of this intellectual movement share two very broad commitments. First, as a critical intervention into traditional civil rights scholarship, critical race theory describes the relationship between ostensibly race-neutral ideals, like "the rule of law," "merit," and "equal protection," and the structure of white supremacy and racism. Second, as a race-conscious and quasi-modernist intervention into critical legal scholarship, critical race theory proposes ways to use "the vexed bond between law and racial power" (Crenshaw,Gotanda,Peller, and Thomas, 1995, p. xiii) to transform that social structure and to advance the political commitment of racial emancipation.

Critical race theory inherits much from critical legal scholarship and conventional legal principles generated during the civil rights movement, but it also represents a significant departure from these two movements. Like most of critical legal scholarship, critical race theory manifests a deep dissatisfaction with liberal legal ideology generally, and with contemporary civil rights thinking about race and racism in particular. When critical race theory emerged in the late 1980s, national conversations about race and racism were still very much tied to a conventional liberal model of law and society. Under this model, liberal political commitments focused on the universalism, objectivism, and race-neutrality of concepts like "equal opportunity," "merit," and "equal protection." Racism was understood to be a deviation from these race-neutral norms: To be racist was to irrationally assume on the basis of an irrelevant characteristic like skin color that people of color did not possess the universal characteristics of reason or merit. Law was supposed to eradicate these instances of race-

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