The critical race theory paper

Critical Response Paper on Race

Critical race theory is a theoretical framework that takes an interpretive mode to examine the tenents and history of racism across dominant cultural modes of expression. In contemporary American society, racism has become such a common practice that identifying an element of racism is challenging.Macroaggressions that occur in their daily activities, such as overcharging a black woman for a car, can be seen as normal business activities while they are not(Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). The attitudes depicted by most of the people leave the question of whether this would have been the case if the two were from the same group, say the superior group. The critical race theory traces racism through American history and outlines its prevalence in the American criminal justice system.

The critical race theory aims at examining the social, cultural forces that shape how society perceives people from different races as well as the response accorded to racism. Literature, legal documents, and other artistic works are treated as evidence of an embodiment of American values and beliefs (Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). In so doing, the approach gives racism a historical perspective and defines why this problem is so hard to solve. The critical race theory has various founding principles, one of which is the existence of racism as an ordinary occurrence and not aberrational. The society in the standard-setting is characterized by many forms of racism, such as the simple treatment accorded to people of different ethnicities. It is hard to notice when a white ignores a black person’s attempt to shake hands, which is a significant manifestation of racism in the contemporary world.  This then reflects on the expressed rules against discrimination as only being relevant in addressing blatant forms of racism.

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The second principle states that a system of a white majority over the blacks in place serves various vital purposes.Derrick Bell quotes Brown Vs. Board of education as having been a critical hallmark of civil rights litigation.  However, this can be understood to have been a step to perpetuate the self-interest of the white elites more than helping the blacks. The critical race theory also advances a theme that, races and racism are social constructs in that the aspect of the race is developed by society. The society usually chooses to ignore visible physical traits and focus on higher-order characteristics such as human intelligence. The society is, however, given a dynamic status in that the treatment of various races is usually a function of the shifting needs of thelabor market(Delgado & Stefancic, 2017). For instance, at one point in history, the Japanese were subjected to intense disfavor and forced into detention camps. At the same time, the society used the other people of color for various purposes in the war.Upon certain variations in the labor market, the people of color were defined in movies as being out of control and requiring significant repression. The differentiated experiences of various races then formulate a mechanism through which different races communicate. Although extreme manifestations of racism, such as lynching, have reduced, there are numerous other channels through which racism evolves in contemporary society.

The American statute

The American statute is a power dynamic that has, over time, given the power to theprivileged in the society while disadvantaging the minorities who have been historically underprivileged. In the various cases where the law was able to win the favor of the blacks, the underlying forces behind such victories are usually the white elites who carefully fine-tune the law to perpetuate their dominance in the society(Delgado & Stefancic, 2017).

Taking a look in the American criminal justice structure amounts to the firm conviction of law favoring those historically advantaged. In the recent past, statistics have revealed the disproportionate imprisonment of people of color. Prisons and incarceration centers are mainly comprised of racial minorities. To make it clearer, one in every twelve black men in his early 30s is in prison or incarceration centers. The critical race theory then attributes this to the war of drugs that was declared a while ago by the American government. The declaration was made by white elites, citing the rate of drug use and peddling to have been on the increase. This then ushered in a new era where the blacks could be discriminated against and implicated in the war against drugs. Again, following the end of de jure segregation in schools, the rate of white incarceration was reduced almost by eight times while the blacks remained at a disadvantage on the face of this law (Martin, 2019).The incarceration of blacks is so prevalent and has overshadowed all other elements of racial disparities.

A recent report from New York about the number and identities of people stooped in a police check reveals the deeply entrenched racism roots in American criminal justice. From the report, more than three-quarters of the people stopped and frisked in police checks constituted blacks and Hispanics, a higher percentage than their actual representation in the population. Notably, of those stopped, 95 % were found not to be engaging in activities warranting arrests, further questioning the relevance of such stops (Winant, 2018). However, other statistics reveal that only a small proportion of the African Americans or Hispanics are engaged in a traffic violation, although these were the primary subjects of the search. On the other hand, the majority of the traffic law offenders were whites who wereneither searched nor checked in the police stops. This the implicates that existing laws are in favor of the majority. The terms, ‘driving while black’ or ‘driving while brown’ are a common lexicon describing the criterion used by police officers to target whom to stop.Another evidence of racial profiling is in religion perception.  Muslim travelers are often subjected to heightened screening and surveillance in airports due to an existing prejudice of these being terrorists.  The critical theory is useful in explaining the dominance of racism in the American criminal justice system.

criticism of the American criminal justice

Richard Delgado, on his criticism of the American criminal justice, utilized an imaginary conversation between a law professor and a law student to infer several aspects of race as a social construction. First, whereas various ethnic groups engage in different crimes, a similar crime committed by people from different races is usually perceived differently by the law. For instance, an Irish American may be highly associated with rackets, and organized crime and the considered less threatening to the social order(Ferguson, 2013). On the other hand, a crime committed by a black is often magnified, often exaggerated due to the existing profiling of blacks as criminals. Historically, this social construct was founded as a means of repressing the blacks again after civil rights breakthroughs.  Equally, the punishment accorded to crime by criminals from various ethnic backgrounds is strongly influenced by racism. Delgado proposes a fictional interlocutor with a lesson that crimes committed by whites are more serious, implicating higher losses, yet they are not pursued vigorously nor punished severely(Winant, 2018).

Frederic Douglass was a renowned orator who, through his works, propelled the critical theory legacy. In this speech, ‘the meaning of 4rth July to the negro,’ he fearlessly pointed at the irony existing on this independence day. For the black Americans, celebrating the day did not have any significant meaning to them since they were not yet free from oppression at the hands of the whites.Douglass posited that there was still a long way to go to achieve equality for women and the minority groups before which, the independence day would remain a hypocritical celebration to the minority groups (Ferguson, 2013). His speech was deeply motivated by the modern forms of discrimination and the prevalence of slavery among blacks, especially women. In another speech, Mitch Landrieu delivered a speech that resonated well with the American perspective on various monuments erected strategically in high reputation places. His speech came following his destruction of the confederate monuments erected in Orleans. According to him, the monuments were significant to American history but not in the way they are described to. The history of slavery needed to be preserved the way it is without disguising the perpetrators as heroes. This was the main them of his speech, which reflected on the racist idealism deep-seated in American society.


In conclusion, the critical theory attempts to view the American criminal system and society from a broader perspective.From the discussed premises, the justice system can be argued to be skewed in favor of the majority. This, however, is historically founded given the American history of slavery and racial discrimination. The theory advances the knowledge that the laws grant more power to the privileged while repressing the disadvantaged in society. It would, therefore, be relevant to accept this gap in criminal justice and tailor the system towards equal treatment of various races and gender for harmonious coexistence.


Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (Vol. 20). NYU Press.

Ferguson, S. J. (2013). Race, gender, sexuality, and social class: Dimensions of inequality. Sage.

Martin, S. D. (2019). Invisible Girls: Victimization, Teacher Support, and Pathways to Punishment for Black Girls.

Winant, H. (2018). The dark matter: Race and racism in the twenty-first century. Race and Racialization, 2E: Essential Readings, 52.

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