Critical Race Theory is an organic field, therefore the number of tenets within CRT can vary between scholars, and are not set in stone. It is important to note that Critical Race Theory represents a collection of theoretical analyses[AJ1] (i.e. Critical Theory and Critical Legal Studies), African/Black intellectual thoughts and traditions, liberatory and critical beliefs, activist-oriented actions, and counter-majoritarian knowings; as well as critical attitudinal and dispositional philosophical orientations (actions based upon a commitment to dismantling white supremacy). As the theory continues to expand and morph to reflect the changes needed to dismantle white supremacy (i.e. counter-hegemonic), the number of major principles [tenets] change and are difficult to assert succinctly.
As a result, the major themes and/or large overarching critiques will be represented by the following 8 principles present across the CRT literature:
Racial Realism: Endemic nature of racism; the social construct of racism affects every part of our lives and mitigates truth, citizenship, humanity, and property.
Critique of [neo] Liberalism/Neo-Marxist: Countering white Critical Theory scholars’ primary class-based critique of power dynamics within society; critique of multicultural education within education; Questioning white-dominant liberal progression.
Racial Legal Justice: Derrick Bell (considered the father of CRT) began a legacy of calling out the racialized tyranny orchestrated through the US legal system and CRT continues that legacy by explicitly calling out the hypocrisy and white supremacy within the US legal system and championing meaningful racial legal justice.
Whiteness as Property: Advantages, privileges, access, citizenship, and resources (social and financial capital) are maintained, defined, and accrued by who is- and owns whiteness.
Intersectionality: race is contingent upon other social identities and circumstantially the nexus of identities are impacted by events and people’s perspectives.
Interest Convergence/Material Determinism: Black progression only occurs when the interest of Black compliments and/or converges with the white interest. Inversely, if Black progression and/or liberation is at odds with white interest, then it does not occur.
Story and Counter-storytelling: Part of a larger critique of the academy and westernized scientific methods and philosophy, CRT puts an emphasis on the African/Black tradition of storytelling (illuminating morality, humanity and justice through stories) as a legitimate scientific method.
Elevation of Pragmatic & Non-majoritarian Knowledge: Challenge linear and white-ahistorical perspectives of knowledge, while validating Black and Indigenous thought that has been historically marginalized and discredited.
Below you will find additional helpful resources and interviews that further explore the history of the Critical Race Studies in Education Association and Critical Race Theory, as explored by leaders in the field.