A Practical Working Definition of Critical Race Theory

Biblically, genuine racism is the sin of partiality, something the Scripture condemns (Lev 19:15; Jas 2:1–9; 3:13–18). Accordingly, the biblical perspective of race necessarily rejects race or racism as defined by critical race theory or as popularly used in American culture, which effectively reduces the words to a weapon to divide and silence anyone who disagrees with critical race theorists, but also anyone who dares to disagree with liberal or socialistic policies. See also my article on A Biblical Perspective on Race, races, and Racism.

My practical and working definition of critical race theory (CRT) is practical because the definition allows you to understand its true nature instead of relying on vague terms such as “social construct.” As a working definition, it is a tool that can explore the many facets of CRT while remaining pliable enough to accommodate amplification and clarification as needed. With that understanding, I provide an introductory statement followed by ten features of CRT.

“CRT argues that race is a social construct created by white people to maintain the interests of white people, promoting white supremacy. CRT is built on the thinking, ideas, and concepts of such people as Karl Marx and neo-Marxists like Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer (and his critical theory). It also includes postmodern thought related to power, knowledge, and language from postmodernists like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. The ten characteristics of CRT are: 1. Racism is always present; thus, it is normal, ordinary, and not aberrational. 2. White people only help black people because it will help them; this dynamic takes place in both group and individual interactions; this reality is known as interest convergence.[1] 3. CRT positions majority and minority relationships in the Marxist conflict theory paradigm of oppressor vs. oppressed. 4. Disparities between races are presented as the product of racism—particularly between whites and blacks; whites are racists, and whites are always the cause of disparities. 5. Racism, with few exceptions, is only exercised by the majority group since racism involves power and bias; since, it is maintained, the minority does not have power, they cannot be racist. 6. CRT strongly marginalizes or even displaces individual identity with group identity. 7. CRT uses the Marxist critical theory to deconstruct (present as a failure) America’s present economic, educational, governmental, political, legal, and social systems (the latter includes the biblical and historical family, morality, and faith structures), in order to replace them with Marxist ideas and socialism. 8. CRT almost universally denigrates capitalism as a failed and evil economic system while simultaneously commending communism and socialism. 9. CRT embraces race consciousness instead of the principle of color blindness; It makes race primary over our common humanity and universals. By colorblindness, I do not mean we do not see color, but that it does not matter, whereas, character does. 10. CRT emphasizes structural determinism to the point that it severely marginalizes the roles of familial and personal responsibility in outcomes.”[2]

[1] Interest Convergence: Moving from general to specific as seen in Derrick Bell’s observations regarding Brown v. Board of Education, slavery, and his Space Traders analogy that reaps percentages of 70/30 (70% represents the size of the racist group of white Americans). It is true that his use of interest convergence deals with the population as a whole rather than the way individuals relate to one another. Consequently, some claim it does not have application in one on one or small group settings. However, I contend that it does have individual relevance because ultimately, the groups are made up of individuals; therefore, at least (considering space traders and his other examples) the seventy-percent group that is racist is composed of all individual racists. When these white individuals go out and live their lives as individuals, interacting with black individuals, it would seem they would individually act, at least most of the time, in line with their racist bias reflected in the large group setting. Resultantly, many personal interactions between whites and blacks are automatically a racist white supremacy relationship wherein the white person only does things with or for the black person out of solely selfish reasons. Moreover, my contention that interest convergence does have relevance in individual relationships does accord with Derrick Bell, Robin DiAngelo, and Richard Delgado’s belief that racism is always present and the idea of systemic racism. Accordingly, whites and blacks’ may be inclined to approach and experience relationships from the vantage point of suspicion and guardedness rather than trust and vulnerability, the things relationships are built and thrive on. Lastly, it is mentioned regularly that Bell only used this principle in Brown v. Board of Education, but that is inaccurate.

[2] A working definition of critical race theory by Ronnie W Rogers, updated 7/10/23.

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Ronnie W. Rogers