Commemorating May Day — the International Day of Labor — with my favorite version of the Internationale. It’s sung in Irish.
Around the time of Andrew Breitbart’s death, he was looking to engage in (what turned out to be his final) an act of race baiting. Before his death, he hinted at some kind of huge bombshell. It seemed like he was setting this up to rival even the ACORN “revelations.” After his death, it was released and it was a dud. Barack Obama was speaking in support of his Harvard law professor, Derrick Bell. Professor Bell came to notoriety through his development of Critical Race Theory. Obama not only spoke in support of Professor Bell, but hugged him as well. The horror.
One fortunate aspect of the flop was the introduction of Critical Race Theory into the mainstream. As of now, it’s all kind of died out and isn’t even mentioned on the right-wing talk shows. Back then, while it was still a hot topic, I wanted to do a write up to clarify and explain what CRT is and how it is useful. I missed that boat, but better late than never. First, an introduction (in video):
If you’re not diggin’ on a video right now, here’s the tl;dr version:
Critical Race Theory is derivative of the Marxian Critical Legal Studies movement. CLS is not monolithic, but there are some generally agreed-upon ideas:
- CLS – One: law-making is a form of politicking, whether it comes from the legislature or from the judiciary. There are some ideas surrounding whether the legislature and judiciary are distinct political machines, or if they are, in fact, intertwined, but the underlying idea is not disputed. (Conservatives probably do not realize that their complaints of “activist judges” have a decidedly CLS tone.)
- CLS – Second: the law is made to protect the interest of the wealthy or dominating class, and shields them from democratic actions and grievances.
- CLS – Third: people’s circumstances and actions aren’t necessarily separated from their backgrounds, communities, and class. They also can’t escape from the socio-economic implications of their gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on. Under many political systems, you have freedom on paper, but you can never be truly free and autonomous because of the conditions beyond your control.
Critical Race Theory builds on these ideas, but criticizes CLS circles for not putting due focus on race (though, the CLS movement is international — this criticism is directed toward American CLS circles.) Using the ideas above as a basis, CRT posits that white supremacy is inherent in the American legal system, and that the law plays a part in maintaining white supremacy and white privilege in America. Further, CRT seeks to change the racial dynamic in law from one of oppression to one of liberation.
To point out the obvious, we can see that racial inequality was present in the beginning of our system by the fact that the stolen labor and enslavement of African people is what made this country’s economy viable. This obviously deprived slaves and their descendants of remuneration and the chance to have and pass down property. Even after slavery, Black people had trouble owning property, due to lack of job opportunities and lack of access to credit and loans that were available to whites. The property and wealth disparity in younger generations of Black folks persists.
We can see that, even when legal protections were ostensibly extended to all Americans, there are great racial disparities in areas like the War on Drugs, in housing, in the prison population and in determining who is considered suspicious enough to be searched or shot. We also know that petty racial bias’ come into play in something as critical as employment opportunities, even with these legal protections.
Another major idea of CRT is the use of storytelling and creativity in exploring racial issues. To me, as a writer, this is uncontroversial since fiction is often the best way to spread truths. The one idea I have a lot of uneasiness about is the advocacy of racial nationalism and separatism. That runs afoul with my internationalist view of the world in a rather large way.
I’m sure I’m leaving out some vital points, but this is the gist of Critical Race Theory as I understand it.
I’ve lacked as the author of this blog and I apologize for that. This week will mark my return. I’ll be picking up where I left off and discuss Critical Race Theory, why it is necessary and how its analysis is needed in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. There is a dimension to this CRT angle that I want to cover, also. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, about a new study regarding New York City’s ”stop-and-fisk” program:
[T]he study shows that out of those stopped only 0.15 per cent resulted in firearms charges. This number stands to directly contradict Commissioner Kelly’s statements that the stops are responsible for the fall in gun crime. Also of note is the fact that out of all ethnicities stopped, white people had the highest chance of having committed a crime, despite being proportionally the least searched.
(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)
This is one of the areas that CRT covers in it’s analysis, and I’ll report on it through the week.
Aside from that, I’ve added a new tab. It’s meant to be an index of all the leftist (Green, Socialist, Communist, etc.) parties in the world, but will likely just be restricted to the American continents for the time being. My goal is for it to be an education tool and maybe a good networking resource. We’ll see, though.
I wanted to quickly discuss Alexandra Pelosi and her picking-on poor folks.
This first video is interviews of conservative folks in Mississippi. The caricatures range from a kid in a WalMart parking lot talking about how he doesn’t like Obama because he’s Muslim, to an old dude saying racist things about Obama to a toothless guy living in abject poverty yet still votes for Republicans. The implication is the same as Thomas Frank’s thesis. These folks aren’t voting for their wellbeing, they’re voting for their values and their racism – why would they do such a thing?
Often, when I’ve criticized international relief efforts to friends and family, I’m asked “Well, what would you do?” It’s a valid question and it’s been asked of me so frequently that I now try to include some possible solutions after I’ve leveled a criticism. I should also note that these “solutions” sometimes aren’t really solutions, nor are they always good or better ideas than the one I’m being critical of.
A lot of rebuttals to the KONY2012 criticism that I’ve seen have an air of “What would you do, then?” There is only one simple answer to that question: there is no simple answer to that question. Nonetheless, there are resources out there to help would-be do-gooders understand what the issue is. It takes work to do the research because the strife in the Great Lakes region of Africa (DRC, CAR and Uganda) is complex.
The most helpful organization that I’ve come across is advocacy organization Africa Canada Accountability Coalition. They are a public-policy think-tank that has taken a different tact to their advocacy efforts than other organizations. In addition to their policy efforts, they have put together a wonderful presentation and document titled “So, You Want To ‘Save’ Africa”? This presentation lays out a progressive, empowerment-oriented strategy for people who want to assist with the ongoing strife in the African Great Lakes region.
A Long Post is probably not forthcoming today. I have side-work that I need to concentrate on. However, I wanted to drop this for today: a more complete and in-depth analysis of the military/intervention “solution” that is proposed in the KONY 2012 video. It was written up by the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London.
Invisible Children’s Military Disconnect – money quote:
A slick and captivating documentary has been spreading wildly on Facebook within the last week. This video, KONY 2012, centers on war criminal and mass murderer Joseph Kony, who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and there is no doubt that this is a very bad guy. However, there’s something off and misplaced in the newly-found outrage among Facebookers.
First, a very brief item about Kony and the LRA, since people who have seen the video are no doubt familiar with the LRA leader by now. The LRA has been abducting children, murdering and raping its way around Uganda since 1986. The LRA has no identifiable ideology or purpose other than to maintain the power of Joseph Kony.
In the aftermath of September 11th and the ramping up of the “War on Terrorism,” the United States has paid special attention in trying to put an end to Kony’s rampage. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Kony and other members of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The United Nations has launched covert operations to capture or kill Kony. The Obama Administration has made capturing Kony a priority, when Obama deployed 100 advisors to aid African governments in apprehending Kony. All of these facts are stated in the video.
The United States and the world government has not exactly been laying down on the job, yet the video asserts that if everyone in the world knew who Joseph Kony was then he would have been arrested by now. Continuously, the video asserts that its main point is to move people to action. What action, exactly? The action, the video says, is to ultimately provide technology, arms and assistance to the Ugandan Army.