Critical Race 101: An Introduction
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Critical Race 101: An Introduction
Critical Race 101: An Introduction
In order to engage in critical thought, we must engage in discursive analysis of different methodologies. These discourses shape the foundations through which we assert our claims. This is just a little precursor to talking about Critical Race Theory. So, let’s begin.
Discourse refers to the ideological backdrop through which claims are contented against. These contentions refer to the different opinions and ongoing debates over different ideas. It is important to note that along with the contention itself, it is important to analyze the authors of different discourses. Without recognizing the histories behind ideas, we cannot critically discuss them.
Critical discourse not only encourages, but demands differing opinions. This is the basis through which contentions arise, and discourse can be created. However, opinions are different from moral standpoints. Please do not confuse the two.
Your moral standpoint is the precursor to your opinions, again it is the backdrop through which you organize and assert your opinions. If your moral standpoint is one rooted in prejudice, racism, classism, homophobia, or any type of discrimination, that is not your opinion, but the root through which you form an opinion about something.
While I encourage differing opinions, prejudicial behaviour is not wanted, nor needed. If you gots something to say, confront your privileges and biases before saying it.
Interested in Feminist Analysis, and its intersection with race? Access here.
Critical Race Theory: A Beginner’s Guide
Race is a social construction aimed at categorizing and grouping groups of people together based on shared perceivable characteristics, both physical and social.
The act of discrimination, coupled with the power to be able to exercise that hatred against specific communities. Racism and discrimination are not the same, it is the power balance that allows for this narrative.
Individual racism is the power dynamic of individuals, which supported by an oppressive system, enables individuals to exercise racism, which is discrimination + power, against other communities. These acts of racism can be deliberate and unintentional, but their intent does not excuse their exercise.
“When liberal whites fail to understand how they can and/or do embody white supremacist values and beliefs even though they may not embrace racism as prejudice or domination , they cannot recognize the ways their actions support and affirm the very structure of racist domination and oppression that they wish to see eradicated.”
— bell hooks . “Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black”, p.125, Routledge
Also known as structural racism, refers to the power ideology backed and perpetuated by institutional powers including the state, that perpetuates discriminatory behaviours. Individual racism is able to function, through the institutional racism which backs it.
“Why is it so difficult for many white folks to understand that racism is oppressive not because white folks have prejudicial feelings about blacks but because it is a system that promotes domination and subjugation?”
— bell hooks . “Black Looks: Race and Representation”, p.15, Routledge
“Internalized racism- a term most often used to suggest that black people have absorbed negative feelings and attitudes about blackness .”
Rightly so, Hooks dismantles that internalized racism is an extension of white supremacy, in which the supremacist and oppressive system rewards people of color communities by perpetuating hatred against their own groups and upholding white values. It is not just the idea of the “white body” perpetuating racism, but the ideology that white body perpetuates, which can, and most definitely will spread to people of color communities.
Coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, Intersectionality came about to express the dire situation of immigrant, women of colour who were outcasted from both feminist movements, as well as civil rights movements . It explores the way multiple identities conflict and coincide, within and between different systems, whether they be of patriarchy, capitalism, or Eurocentrism.
This analysis often reveals that social institutions are double, triple, quadruple stacked against those identifying with a multi-minority identity, and that these institutions do not accommodate the complexity that arises when an individual identifies with more than one marginalized group.
Intersectionality then, rightly so, refutes the notion that women are homogeneous groups who face the same oppression in any given situation.
It is important to note however, that intersectionality is not about highlighting individual differences to create further grounds for isolation but works towards critically understanding these differences and fathoming how they can be positively expressed within our political society.
Ethnicity is a construct that attempts to hegemonically characterize individuals into groups of communities based on shared characteristics, including but not limited to values, language, geospatial contexts, education, and geopolitical histories .
Culture, a relative term to each individual environment, refers to the shared meanings and behaviours between groups of people as a collective community. Culture has an underlying code, social, moral, economic and political, which all members follow, even if not giving active consent to those rules, individuals part of a culture, tacitly agree to the unspoken rules of conduct when they choose to participate in that community.
The systematic act of dehumanization, subjection, and marginalization of specific communities; which is done to benefit the oppressors at the expense of the oppressed.
A complicated dynamic in which some communities hold greater ability in the economic, social and political sense to marginalize and control other communities. Power is not only a physical act, but is made possible through language and discourse. Through Western creation and exercise of knowledge they are able to assert and force certain narratives that work to their benefit. The creation of this discourse, is a creation of power.
Colonialism refers to the dispossession, marginalization, and oppressive behaviour of certain geospatial areas by other people, communities, and nations. This can be physical settlement, commonly referred to as settler colonialism; military occupation of an area; resource extraction and exploitation; trade imbalances; and forceful state coercion.
Colonization produces an unequal power relation between the colonizer and the colonized, thus resulting in structural inequities governing the geopolitical climate of different areas, altering the lived realities and fabric through which colonized communities navigate their day to day lives.