Dixson Discussion

  • Does the involvement of white scholars hinder the purpose of Critical Race Theory or further it?
  • Having thought about this…What is the role of white scholars in Critical Race Theory (if any)?
  • It has been 3 years since you wrote the article — how has CRT progressed?
  • What singular element would provide CRT with a louder voice in academia?

How did you learn about CRT?
Access to college was more than a knowledge. I was in honor classes — but when Yale, and other colleges were there — I did not have access to it. One of two African Americans — the cultural definitions didn’t make sense — going to undergraduate — lack of access — did not sit well with me. I came across some work with a sociologist — and from there that seemed to resonate more — there were layers of access that had a lot to do with race. Class explanations did not quite make sense… like me… being that of class – it was not necessarily a resource issue – it was an access issue — access to the resources and made accessible at school. That was the beginning of interest in core theory.

Whiteness as property — Property of life, liberty, and property is left silent — in documents — do you think that is part of ahistoricism?
I think it is definitely a part of it. Property — males in particular. To a certain extent we give power to people who have property – and they have the most right to speak. How the notion of voice, and right to speak was related to property ownership — Notions of whiteness… we tend to think of racial issues outside of historical context. In typical ways, a lot of what happens does not happen in isolation. It is very much a part of a larger or historical context. One understanding, how things happen within a larger socio-historical/political context. When we argue for affirmative action or the Brown decision — people argue that it was not the right decision. Brown did not solve everything. We have to look for additional remedies… Lack of access, and rights — and it is inherent in the US.

Do white scholars – hinder it?
Delgado — caution of privileging and re-centering whiteness. there are very thoughtful white scholars who have engaged in Critical Race Theory. It doesn’t become — focused on whiteness. How are the ways that whiteness complicating things. Conscious of positionality.

One of the things that you had not found scholars who have not implemented the strategies that were identified —
It is a much bigger problem. There are larger issues. They have to be taken up by a colaition. We cannot even talk about it. We do not want to agree that race is an issue. Having a dialogue. Where people can have a critical discussion about it — about the problematic with the problems in race — these spaces are few and far between — look at Obama’s campaign — he had to step back several paces — he had to aquiece to the general public — we do not know how to talk about race… The talk could be more powerful — he had to speak generically… this is not what Critical Race Theory

Is classism an outer theme in Critical Race Theory?
Interdisciplinary. Crenshaw talks about intersectionality — it is hard to say when Race is operating over gender or class… It is intersected in complicated ways… bringing up Obama – he grew up in a single parent family. He has access to white — because he has white grandparents – he went to private schools — they see a black man — there are things that advantage him — there are many things that do not advantage him — we can not pull out phenomena — for people of colour they are compounded — if you are a person of color, poor, sexual identity, single parenthood — you cannot pull them out.

How is it improving?
At University of Chicago — there is a conference after AERA — when you get into your work it is very small. Many of us do work together. A lot of work in communities — community work. Have another colleague in San Francisco — and so — Gloria and Danny they have been both been expert witnesses… people have been quite active — and also the law schools — one that happens every two years… it is more of a PanCRT group and it moves around — it is more than just academic talk — it looks at where we go next — and how do we organize around those things.

I read the apartheid of knowledge — and you wrote a bit about it… How do you see CRT responding to — not just using the theory — the action side around CRT — the legitimizing of scholarship for scholars of color… this was sparked specifically — comes from people of colour — how is it legitimized?
The pioneers are all well respected scholars. At least in the field of education it is legitimate. Those who are not — do not know. The article was published in the top tiered journals. the second generation has had a privilege of coming after the first group of scholars. They were the working with the legitimacy of the group.

Where do we go from here? What should people be looking at in education involving CRT? What holes are there?
One of the things — Derrick Bell wrote — it is a constant agitator — holding up the mirror — always skeptical — given the history of race in the US. Even policies and practices that you think are helpful — how is it going to undermine the opportunities for people of colour. How does this policy re-privilege white students. Brown claimed to deliver everything — and we are more segregated post-Brown. CRT always challenges us to be vigilent — you are always looking at policy – and how they may undo it all. How the discourse around cultural relevent pedagogy — it becomes racialized pedagogy — that does not really help students… how do we talk about working with children of colour and misrepresent it — and because it continues to limit access to literature — this is where I am looking at CRT — looking at the micro level. Always looking at the bigger picture — the visualist and the skepticism.

Discussion of the Brown case… I remember when i was taking Constitutional Law… the professor panned it — I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Brown case… because it does not fit the law way of thinking — and then the global view that it does not go far enough.
Well, um… yeah — there was Brown one and Brown two. Brown one — was the good one — Brown two — undid Brown two… what the families were really interested in in silent covenent — families wanted their fair share — they were getting taxed the same way — but they were not getting the same access to the resources… it seemed to disenfranchised their kids — hoped that it would re-distribute them in a way — the disillusionment of it was all real funding was not tied to it – how things would be distributed no formula attached to it — hundreds of Black educators lost their jobs… People of colour were considered subhuman. Desegregation did not help it — there was no way to address the pervasiveness.. it didn’t change anything. The implementation did not help anything.