16. A Conversation on Critical Race Theory and Democracy - with Victor Ray (Part II)
We are in the midst of an escalating moral panic around “Critical Race Theory” that is serving, across Republican-led states, as justification to censor and purge anything that dares to dissent from a white nationalist understanding of America’s past or present. That is the context in which Victor Ray published his book “On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters and Why You Should Care.” Victor Ray is a sociologist, a professor at the Universitxy of Iowa, and you’ll hear in this conversation that he really is an incredibly thoughtful observer of race and racism in America. In his book, Victor does an incredible job to make CRT, this complex body of thought, the intellectual traditions on which it builds, the key insights and criticisms it offers, accessible. This, to me is, the best introduction to CRT. And it is much more than that, actually, it is a broad reflection on structural/systemic racism, on race in America and how it shapes all aspects of life in this country. If you haven’t yet, go back and listen to Part I, in which we talked about Victor’s personal story and how it relates to CRT, about what CRT actually is, when it emerged, why it emerged. We pick it up right there in Part II: We continue to talk about the actual CRT (not the demonized bogeyman), different strands and debates within the field, its critique of racial progress narratives. And then we do get into the reactionary moral panic around CRT, how and why it took off in the fall of 2020; the political, social, and cultural context in which it could be so successful; why it’s useful to compare the rightwing crusade against CRT to climate change denialism; and how we should think about ways to counter this reactionary campaign. And then, finally, we also talk about what Victor expects going forward, where he sees the country going over the next few decades – and we even manage to end on a somewhat hopeful note.
A link to “On Critical Race Theory”
This episode was produced by Connor Lynch
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