Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Two Views on Race, Equity, Social Justice, & CRT

When in doubt on an issue, read a diverse selection of sources. Which means moving beyond the inflammatory soundbites of Christopher Rufo when inquiring about topics like race, equity, social justice, and critical race theory.

The book Stamped from the Beginning from scholar and anti-racism advocate Ibrahim X Kendi is certainly an important read for people wishing to understand the ideas about race that are generating such angst in talk radio/television about critical race theory and public education. Kendi won the 2016 National Book Award for his research into racism in American history as derived from the establishment of the slave trade. Granted, as far as generating discussion, there is something to note when an author subtitles a book "the definitive history of racist ideas in America." That sort of approach could beg the question and ultimately squelch the sort of discussion and discourse that is called for on issues of race in America. That said, the scholarship is vast, and when people are discussing ideas about CRT, this book is undoubtedly a defining source.

For an equally well-informed and researched look at race in America, readers will also want to check in with the work of John McWhorter, a linguist and professor at Columbia University, who has been writing about issues of race and language for more than twenty years now. Particularly apt in discussing race in America and ideas about structural or institutional racism are two books by McWhorter: Losing the Race from 200o which theorizes and examines "self sabotage in Black America," and its 2005 follow-up Winning the Race which furthers the discussion by moving "beyond the crisis in Black America." While McWhorter is not writing explicitly about the ideas in Kendi's book (obviously because he preceded that work by a decade), readers will find McWhorter's approach to struggles in the Black community to be a related but alternative view.

Both these men and their work should be part of any legitimate discussion of race, and specifically the Black-White dichotomy, in America.

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