Critical Race Narratives: A Study of Race, Rhetoric, and Injury

By Carl Gutiérrez-Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
CRITICAL RACE STORIES
AND THE PROBLEM
OF REMEDY

The original sense of discrimination was one of discernment, of re-
finement, of choice, of value judgment—the courteous deflection
to the noble rather than to the base. It is this complicated social mi-
lieu that must be remembered as the backdrop to what both the
majority and dissenters refer to as “preferences” in [Metro v. FCC].
Racism inscribes culture with generalized preferences and rou-
tinized notions of propriety. It is aspiration as much as condemna-
tion; it is an aesthetic.

—Patricia Williams, “Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC,” 198

Although the Critical Legal Studies (CLS) movement is often credited with elaborating a detailed “deconstruction” of legal practice, Critical Race Studies (CRS) has been unique in attempting to reconstruct the law by virtue of reference to a core race literacy processed “from the bottom up,” or by means of a certain proximate relation to racial injury.1 In “looking to and from the bottom,” and thereby critically connecting with communities subject to racial victimization, CRS authors have, as Richard Delgado argues, undertaken a process of understanding the competition between stories as told by diverse legal actors.2 Working from the position that race is a prime factor shaping most facets of society, these authors have defined for themselves a radically interdisciplinary activity, even as it retains a focus on the law perse.

As I have suggested earlier, one may think of the CRS larger project in terms of its focus on transferential aspects of scholarship and

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