A Black masculine presenting person, wearing glasses and dressed in a black shirt, reading a red book.

Since the Critical Race Studies in Education Association’s founding in 2007, like-minded scholars, educators, and academic activists have emphasized that there is an “inextricable link between race, and higher education” (Ward, 2017, p. 5), requiring analysis of academia through a lens that incorporates the following CRT tenets: permanence of racism in U.S. society; the need to critique liberalism; the importance of narratives and counter narratives, and the reality of interest convergence (Childers-McKee and Hytten, 2015). In utilizing CRT, we believe that racism “is the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country” (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001, p. 7, as cited in Ladson-Billings, 2021). Furthermore, U.S. society only exists because of its “foundation in racially based slavery” and thrives because “racial discrimination continues” (Hochschild, 1984, p. 5, as cited in Ladson-Billings, 2021). Educational institutions are not excluded from the country’s deeply intertwined history of racism and discrimination, which they have only begun to address via social and legal movements.

When understanding CRT’s influence and the scope of its application in education, we find a helpful framework in Ladson-Billings & Tate (1995), who wrote “…critical race theoretical perspective in education analogous to that of critical race theory in legal scholarship by developing three propositions:

  • Race continues to be significant in the US
  • US society is based on property rights rather than human rights
  • The intersection of race and property creates analytical tool for understanding inequity” (p. 47)

“We situate our discussion in an explication of critical race theory and attempt to move beyond the boundaries of the educational research literature to include arguments and new perspectives from law and the social sciences”  (p. 48). In addition, CRT’s critique of liberalism is that institutions exist to “further the goals, desires, and needs of individuals” (Castagno, 2009, p. 756). Liberalism places value on individuals having access to opportunities in society and is not “concerned with ensuring equality of outcome since it is assumed that individuals can reasonably decide if and how to capitalize on opportunities presented to them” (Castagno, 2009, p.756). Therefore, understanding the dominant narrative and providing counter-narratives are important to disrupting colonial racism as it manifests within educational systems. This is especially true because stories “reflect a perspective or point of view and underscore what the storyteller, audience, society, and/or those in power believe to be important, significant, and many times valorizing and ethnocentric” (Ladson-Billings, 2021, p. 9).

Critical Race Theory as an interdisciplinary academic field has deep roots in the fields of law, social and political movements, and media. It is with the complexity of education in mind that we provide the following readings/resources for a deeper understanding of Critical Race Theory’s history and foundation within both contexts of education and higher education.


History and Foundations of CRT & Critical Race Theory in Education   

*Bell, D. (1992). Introduction (pp 1-14), Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of  racism. Basic Books.

*Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (Eds.), (2000). Introduction. Critical Race Theory: The key writings that formed the movement (pp. xiii-xxxii). New York: The New  York Press. 

*Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York: New York  University Press. (Forward and Chapter 1) 

*Dixson, A. D., & Rousseau, C. K. (2005). And we still are not saved: Critical race theory in education ten years later. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 7-27.  

*Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. Teachers College Record, 97(1), 47-67.  

*Ladson-Billings, G. (2021). Critical race theory—What it is not!. In Handbook of critical race theory in education (pp. 32-43). Routledge. 

History and Foundations of CRT & Critical Race Theory in Higher Education 

*Bell, D. (1980). Brown v. Board of education and the interest convergence dilemma. Harvard  Law Review, 93(3), 518-533.  

*Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without racists: Color-Blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Maryland: Rowan & Littlefield Publisher, Inc. Chapter 2 and Conclusion 

*Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 1241-1299. 

*Harris, C. (1995). Whiteness as property. In K. Crenshaw, N. Gotanda, G. Peller, & K. Thomas, (Eds.), (2000). Critical Race Theory: The key writings that formed the movement. (pp. 276-291). New York: The New York Press. 

*Ledesma, M. C., & Calderón, D. (2015). Critical Race Theory in Education: A Review of Past Literature and a Look to the Future. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(3), 206-222.Stovall, D. (2013). Against the politics of desperation: educational justice, critical race theory, and Chicago school reform. Critical Studies in Education, 54(1), 33-43. 

Alemán, E., & Alemán, S.M. (2010). ‘Do Latin@ interests always have to “converge” with White interests?’: (Re)claiming racial realism and interest-convergence in critical race theory praxis. Race Ethnicity and Education, 13(1), 1-21. Bondi, S. (2012). Students and institutions protecting Whiteness as property: A critical race theory analysis of student affairs preparation. Journal of Student Affairs Research and  Practice, 49(4), 397-414.