Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a scholarly movement that began in the late 1970s in law schools and the legal academy. CRT offers a framework for examining the ways in which race, racism, and power are interrelated and woven into the fabric of U.S. society.

Because CRT began in the legal academy, its founders initially focused on the ways in which law, as an institution, both exacerbates and ameliorates racial and other forms of inequality. Among other things, critical race theorists (or “Race Crits”) reject incrementalist approaches and question whether concepts like colorblindness, formal equality, and merit are sufficient to eliminate racial and other forms of hierarchy. Race Crits embrace less traditional methodologies, such as narrative and storytelling, in order to render visible the experiences of marginalized persons and to expose, analyze, and counter the dominant discourse on race.  CRT has spawned other critical movements and has heavily influenced fields beyond law. 

CRT Oral History Project – In 2022, the Duke Endowment funded the creation of an oral history of CRT to be housed at Duke University. Among other things, the oral history will include one-on-one, in-person interviews with 15 scholars who were instrumental in founding CRT. These materials will be of use to anyone interested in obtaining a fuller understanding of CRT’s origins, its relevance to contemporary social challenges, and its power and limitations.

CRT Podcast – Listen to CLRP’s faculty affiliates discuss CRT here.

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