Critical Race Theory And The Civil Rights Era Essay

Critical Race Theory And The Civil Rights Era Essay

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What began as a movement in the mid-1970s, is a theory that deals with the interconnectedness of racism and the legal system. Critical Race Theory is a concept created in law schools in the United States during a time when “heady advances of the civil rights era of the 1960s had stalled and, in many respects, were being rolled back” (Delgado et al. 4). The theory now encompasses its ideals into three main “features:”
1. Acknowledging color-blind racism and its relation to equality
2. Comparing the so-called “white elites” versus the “working-class Caucasian”
3. Understanding the fluidity of race as a socially constructed idea
Though the movement was supposed to simply reflect the 1970s legal system and societal ideals, the theory should be seen as a more overarching ideology across generations. In a “folk history” story by Richard Wright, entitled 12 Million Black Voices, are the stories of black culture starting with the early development of slavery and ending with the migration of blacks to the inner cities. The story reflects the continued struggle for blacks as they are tagged, and prosecuted based on a racial description forced upon them. But besides describing the black struggle, Wright acknowledges the social division between the whites. By doing these two tasks, Wright essentially constructs a critical race theory before its official creation. Reflective of current society is a phenomenon called “color-blindness.” A racial ideology, color-blindness, aims to treat “blatant forms of discrimination” by treating individuals equally, regardless of class, race, or ethnicity. Though many critical race theorists find it “admirable” to follow this ideology, many critics argue that this is not possible because of the deeply roo...


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...e some time” (Obasogie 138). The significance of Critical Race Theory is to draw attention on the race and power structure that has been a part of society since the very creation of civilization. It also forces society to pose the following questions:
1. What makes certain races deviant?
2. Who created these fears towards social groups?
3. If racism continues to transform, what will the new racism look like for generations to come?
For centuries, society has tried to understand and answer these questions, but as shown through the 1941 folk history and the 2013 case study, only more questions have been made. It just goes to show that the issues of race, power and law are more deeply rooted in society than it first appears. But as, Derrick Bell, Richard Wright, and Osagie Obasogie have all shown, addressing racial inequalities is the first step in fixing the issue.

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