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Is This Democracy

15. A Conversation on Critical Race Theory and Democracy - with Victor Ray (Part I)

Is This Democracy
Is This Democracy
We are in the midst of a reactionary moral panic over “Critical Race Theory” that is being used by Republicans across the country to justify an escalating assault on academic freedom and attempts to stifle, censor, and ban any dissent from the white nationalist patriarchal worldview, anything that dares to upset reactionary sensibilities. This manufactured panic took off in the fall of 2020 – not coincidentally in the aftermath of the mobilization of civil society after the murder of George Floyd, as it is intimately tied to the ongoing racial counter-reckoning. The Right talks a lot about “CRT,” but never in good faith, never as anything but an evil, “un-American” plot to undermine the nation. What CRT actually is, however, is a rich, complex intellectual tradition and body of thought that can help us better understand race and racism in America. That’s why it’s worth grappling with CRT in earnest. And there is no one better to help us do just that than Victor Ray. Victor is the F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies at the University of Iowa – and he is one of the most thoughtful analysts, observers, commentators on racism. Last summer, he published a book titled “On Critical Race Theory: Why it Matters and Why You Should Care.” And everybody should read it, as it is the best introduction into CRT we know, and actually a lot more than that: It is a broad reflection on structural/systemic/institutional racism, what it is, how it works, how it produces the discriminatory outcomes that shape life in this country. Please note: This is Part I of our conversation with Victor Ray, focusing on his personal story, how it relates to CRT, how CRT relates to his personal life; on what CRT actually is, when it emerged, what problem it was supposed to be an answer to; and on the kind of diagnosis of America’s past and present it offers. A (longer) Part II will follow early next week, on the CRT critique of racial progress narratives; why the reactionary moral panic around CRT has been so successful, and how we can counter it; and what Victor expects going forward, where he sees the country going over the next few decades.

A link to “On Critical Race Theory”

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This episode was produced by Connor Lynch

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