1 Critical race feminism and social justice theories Course time: MW 4-5:25 (First meeting January 11)Course number: WMST 301Room: Leacock 110Instructor and email: [email protected]Office/hours: Wednesdays 5:30-7 Nou led Nou la.1We are the leaders We have been waiting for.2Course description and key goals Critical race theory (CRT) is an academic discipline founded in the mid-1980’s largely by Latino and African-American attorneys and law professors in North America. Critical race theorists initially set out to expose and challenge structural racism at work in legal systems, particularly the criminal justice system, and other institutions of power.3Critical race theorists ask the question: If the legal system and other social institutions (such as schools4) are premised upon the claim of race neutrality and colorblindness in 1“There is a Haitian saying which might upset the aesthetic images of most women. Nou led, Nou la, it says. We are ugly, but we are here. Like the modesty that is somewhat common in Haitian culture, this saying makes a deeper claim for poor Haitian women than maintaining beauty, be it skin deep or otherwise. For most of us, what is worth celebrating is the fact that we are here, that we against all the oddsexist. To the women who might greet each other with this saying when they meet along the countryside, the very essence of life lies in survival. It is always worth reminding our sisters that we have lived yet another day to answer the roll call of an often painful and very difficult life.” Danticat, E. (2003). We are ugly, but we are here. In J. B. de Hernandez (Ed.), Women writing resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean, (23-27). Brooklyn: South End Press.2Grace Lee Boggs, June 27, 1915 – October 5, 2015 3Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., et al. (1995). Critical race theory: The key writings that formed the movement. New York: The New Press; Aylward, C. (1999). Canadian critical race theory: Racism and the law. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.4Ladson Billings, G. (2000). Racialized discourses and ethnic epistemologies. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research.Newbury Park: Sage Publications; see also, Vaught, S. (2011).
2 the post-civil rights era, how can the criminal justice system, then, consistently net such a disproportionate number of black and brown bodies? Given this great disproportion—as well as a long history of Black criminalization beginning in slavery5-- is it then important to examine the justice system and other important powerful social institutions as intentional vehicles of discrimination? History is not about the past. It’s only incidentally about the past. History is about arguments we have about the past. Because it is about arguments we have about the past, it is really about us, our times, and our problems. -Ira Berlin6Critical race theory, as with all theories, arises from a particular historical context. In the United States, CRT is undergirded by the history of chattel slavery, a system of relationships wholly foundational to American history.
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