Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Should White Feminists Do Critical Race Theory?

Well if this isn't a question we have had to tackle before. In my quest for CRT articles that do not pose copyright issues I came across this one.

White Feminists Doing CRT: Some Considerations

It was written by a white feminist explaining her perspective on why white feminist theory is important to the CRT debate. She also poses some questions for those who are white and are engaging the CRT genre. I myself have my own opinions, but since my blog is new and undiscovered, I figure I will put this article out here and let it marinate. Then I can add my fifty cents worth or so after myself and others have a chance to digest it.

Here are some questions to think about:

What is the purpose of Critical Race Theory?
Does the involvement of white scholars hinder this purpose or further it?
Having thought about this...What is the role of white scholars in Critical Race Theory (if any)?

20 Comments:

Blogger Shanikka said...

Well Met Sister:

I checked out a comment of yours on ABB and found that you were starting this blog. Needless to say, I came running!!! As a fellow woman of color lawyer, trained in the law 15 years ago now under the tutelage of some of the giants of CRT theory (I still miss them) I salute you for starting a blog conversation about this. So many folks are trying to blog deracialized, instead of just talking.

I hope you don't mind that I've put up a link at my blog. I don't get much traffic but what I do get probably would be interested in the dialogue. It's certainly needed.

The question you ask is the eternal question of womanism. I know I've got my battle scars over it. Some from as recently as last week LOL. I still struggle with the question. Progress requires communication. But communication requires an open mind. The evidence on whether white feminists have an open mind is shaky, at least in politics.

I've put up a link here, in anticipation of great things, at my little baby blog, where I also deconstruct the law from time to time as part of my larger ramblings is at http://politicalsapphire.blogspot.com. Check it out and if you feel it's worthy, I'd love a cross-link.

Peace and thanks for running with this idea,
Shanikka

6:57 AM  
Blogger CRT Law Mama said...

Yeah! I am so glad to finally see someone noticed this site! I would love to link to you, just know I am a busy working Mom too and I do my best running about three sites right now part time. CRT is a passion of mine- and I have been out of the loop for some time. I would love to talk with ya more online or via email. Come back as often as possible and I will link to you soon. Please check out my slightly more developed site at: http://georgebushisignorant.blogspot.com

8:21 AM  
Blogger Shark-fu said...

Sister, you are linked...

2:04 PM  
Blogger not_other said...

well it depends how you define white. others may think i am, but i definitely do not see myself as such. though i recognize others' perceptions of me may, and often do, lead to white privelege, i decry it. so as a non-white white person who studies CRT and works against racism, i feel there is a place for all ppl, regardless of sex or "race" to contribute something meaninful to the debate.

8:10 AM  
Blogger CRT Law Mama said...

Thank you ABB for the link and promotion!

Thank you all for the comments too! I am glad to see this board finally take off (a little)...

And Thank you Not_other for joining in! You are absolutely white (Just Kiddin! read: Right)! It does matter how you define white to a degree. Personally I believe in the one drop rule. I too can be mistaken for white, but more often for Mexican and Puerto Rican- even though I am part of the former and neither of the latter.

For purposes of this article and discussion, I am defining white as those without a bloodline of color, those who do not acknowledge their bloodline of color and more importantly, those with no (community of) color consciousness. Both of these statements are controversial to some degree, but hey, what would life be without controversy? Have to get back to work for a minute, I will try to get back to this a little later.

Thank you again!!!

8:58 AM  
Blogger brownfemipower said...

hey! detroit's in the house!!!!! ;-)
(i'm from flint, spend a lot of time in detroit)

i have no idea what CRT is, but i am think it sounds very interesting..esp the discussion on "defining whiteness"...i am a light skinned chicana, so I agree with much of what has been said thus far--I may be defined as white by others but I definitly identify as a woman of color and chicana...

6:43 PM  
Blogger Forty_Two said...

The concept of race is politically expedient, but there isn't a whole lot of solid science to support the idea that one ethnic group is on average, superior to any other. Within each "race" you can find every imaginable size, shape, strength, weakness, and an equal propensity to embrace dopey ideas.

Remember kids, smoking is very sophisticated. KOOL

7:28 AM  
Blogger Shanikka said...

I"ll go further and say that the idea of biological "race" is an utter myth. I think the science is clear at this point, even though Carter G. Woodson pointed this out what is now nearly 80 years ago.

But that scientific fact cannot obviate the existence of race as cultural and social identity assigned both from without, and within, a person based upon the visual clue of skin color and the culture that has historically accompanied it. So, when I think of "white women", that's what I think of. Women whose skin color is pink (my mama always clarified that only albinos approach true whiteness) who have been reared in, and have adopted, the mindset of whiteness/privilege by birth that we all suffer under.

Their participation in any conversation about Critical Race Theory necessarily comes with that adopted baggage. In some ways, it's worse than if white men come to speak about it, because white men are not usually operating as much under a sense of entitlement to speak by virtue of oppression. I have had too many to count now unfortunate discussions with white sisters in which it was demonstrated conclusively that (a) they are incapable of taking themselves and their experience as white women -- with their oppression stemming from their placement on a pedastal, not from anything remotely like the backbreaking life experiences of most women of color -- out of the center of the discourse; and (b) they have real, emotional, defense mechanisms against accepting the idea of intersectionality -- the indivisible nature of race and gender in women of color -- and that this may mean that their narratives of oppression simply don't line up the same way as narratives of women of color.

This is why I question whether they can truly "do" CRT. CRT requires that race be at the center of the discourse. Since white feminists too often refuse to see anything at the center of oppression other than gender -- and far too often insist that women of color give greater weight to gender oppression than oppression based on race -- I am often pessimistic, yet remain hopeful.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Delia DeLyon said...

I believe Zillah Eisenstien tackles CRT quite well as a white women. Particularly her last book, Against Empire.

8:09 AM  
Blogger kamikaze said...

I come from Europe, so I broadened the CRT issue to intersectional approaches foregrounding race. Maybe that distorts the discussion, I don't know enough about CRT to know... well, anyways:

I think White feminists (we) need intersectional approaches to do reasearch and also to know what not to do research about. In this sense, I think the question should be not if, but how.

I agree that White people getting to the frontiers for doing CRT/intersectionality is a problem, that has to be handled more seriously than just saying 'better we do this than resort to our usual racist theories'. There is also this 'inherent' problem that the critical edge tends to get lost on the way, when the tool is used by us. However - how are White researchers to learn how to think and write in ways that do not continously reconstruct White supremacy if not by the theories developed by Black people? From my understanding of politics I don't belive it will suddenly dawn on the perpetrator. I'm still stuck on the how-question though.

Petra

7:41 AM  
Blogger CRT Law Mama said...

I received this email today and I wanted to include these comments. I do not want anyone excluded from this discussion because they dont have a blogger account. Anyone who encounters this problem in the future, please feel free to email me at: Crt.law.mama@gmail.com

Thank you-

"Hi, I found your blog thru...blackademic, wow, what an interesting question. I love it. I wanted to post a comment but it wouldn't let me because I don't have a blogger account. But basically I think Shanikka
hits the nail on the head. As a white feminist, I find CRT interesting but I don't think I would "do" it unless I focussed specifically on whiteness, how whiteness is constructed and all that (a la Peggy McIntosh, ya know?) because I don't have those lived experiences. I can
sympathize but I can't know exactly what it's like to be racialized in another way. Which doesn't mean at all that I think white people can't talk about "race" and how it's constructed and used within our society, indeed, I think we certainly have to. But our standpoint is as people
who have benefitted from that social construct. As she said in the article "As Linda Alcoff notes, the problem is not the fact that white men and white women write and speak about people of color. Rather, the problem concerns the way in which white people write and speak about
people of color.""

7:26 AM  
Blogger Blackhoney said...

Here is an interesting article from a Black man on white feminists.

The White, Lesbian Feminist Culture and It's Impact on the Black Man, Woman and Child

Peace

12:09 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I find the most productive aspect of feminist thought to be the moments of shock that occur when I view a bit of hitherto unexamined patriarchal common sense through my middle-aged female eyes and recognize it as horseshit. But as an irredeemably white person, I can't experience racist horseshit commonplaces in the same way. I can read the work of CRT and learn from it (and cringe as I come to understand things I have said and done and thought for the racist crap it is) and help deepen and refine the work being done by others, but I'm not sure that I as a white person have any original material to bring to the table. So I hope you don't mind if I lurk here.

I spent half the day learning to use blogroll so I could link to folks like you.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

Race doesn't exist biologically, but it does exist socially, and as such, it affects everyone (differently, of course). CRT is useful because it explains phenomena that can't be so well understood otherwise. Because it is verifiable (good research is done with it) it has validity and thus, broad applicability (or universality). If one starts using it and citing it, pretty soon, one finds oneself joining it and doing it, regardless of one's color.

10:05 PM  
Blogger OSMO said...

test

1:00 AM  
Blogger OSMO said...

Hi 2 comments I am married to a black woman; she loves big ass white cock and she has converted to white culture because black society does not have it together; Critical race theory is just an excuse to try to rewrite history; no one believes this shit. FUck y'all with my law degree.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

You're an idiot.

10:24 AM  
Blogger crys said...

I wonder if it is possible for a white person to participate in CRT thinking and dialog with full awareness of their race of white. I guess my logic goes: since CRT is inextricably linked with white supremacy, ruling class as white, white hegemony, etc. then the participation of those conscious of their whiteness (and how it blinds, positions, and shapes one's experience, external social structures and internal thought) are valuable to discussions of CRT in helping to arrive at a more comprehensive and total understanding of the way race (including white) structures, functions and effects history, our present and our future.

That being said, I think that white people need to develop their branch of CRT without trying to impose or take up space. White people on CRT should have its own space to work through its own (unfathomable) racial complexities and compositions and leave itself open to discussion and critique in order to become more self-aware with the prospect of truly engaging in an honest and integrated dialog.

And for white women, they should have at least some critique on patriarchy and can (possibly) provide some insight into the that hegemonic system which inevitably is perpetuated through racial hierarchies.

These are just some thoughts. Any comments?

10:23 PM  
Blogger Kim Clemens said...

do you have a full citation for this article so I can get my hands on it? the links isn't working anymore...

7:52 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

White girl here trying to learn more about black history and rights and how I can be the best ally! Currently finding blogs written by black women to read through. Thank you for doing what you're doing and educating people. I need to research Critical Race Theory now!

6:27 AM  

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