End White Supremacy in Our Time: Critical Race Theory and Critical Mass

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14 mins read

Professor Derrick Bell 

Some years ago I had an opportunity to talk with the late Professor Derrick Bell on the subject of racism in the law. Professor Bell was a guest lecturer at the law school I was attending and after his formal lecture, he took time to meet with our local chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) of which I was Chair.  We had about two hours of discussion, one on one, with Professor Bell. 

Derrick Albert Bell Jr. was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist. (1930-2011)

I remember coming away from the meeting with the distinct impression that my views about the law were not far-fetched. Of course, Professor Bell was not openly as radical as I, after all, he was the first black tenured law professor at Harvard, but it was clear that he recognized, as did I, that racism permeated the law and that the law could not be understood unless that fact was taken into consideration. Because I was a radical then as I am now and was anxious to hear his views on racism and the law (the title of his award-winning treatise published in 1980).  This was before Critical Race Theory (CRT) was a thing. At that time the subject was only talked about in academia and almost exclusively in law schools. 

What Is Critical Race Theory?

Professor Derrick Bell has been called the “godfather” of Critical Race Theory.  The title was bestowed posthumously by a white Republican who could not have missed that the “godfather’ was a fictional gangster.  Nonetheless, Professor Bell said he was not certain who coined the phrase and that he had been given more credit than he deserved for the movement’s origins.

That’s right he saw it as a movement.  But he did say that “…  critical race theory is a body of legal scholarship, … a majority of whose members are both existentially people of color and ideologically committed to the struggle against racism, particularly as institutionalized in and by law. Those critical race theorists who are white are usually cognizant of and committed to the overthrow of their own racial privilege.”   And that, “… [t]he work is often disruptive because its commitment to anti-racism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures. This is not to say that critical race theory adherents automatically or uniformly “trash” liberal ideology and method (as many adherents of critical legal studies do). Rather, they are highly suspicious of the liberal agenda, distrust its method, and want to retain what they see as a valuable strain of egalitarianism which may exist despite, and not because of, liberalism.”   

 It follows that Critical Race Theory is 

  • a body or legal scholarship;
  • movement that is radical, critical and intentionally disruptive;. 
  • It seeks to attack a legal system which disempowers people of color;  
  • It holds that standards and institutions created by and fortifying [of]

white power ought to be resisted;

  • It is a transformative resistance strategy;
  • It was intended to lay the groundwork for wide-scale resistance. 
  • That goes beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action and other liberal measures. 

What Critical Race Theory Is Not

Critical Race Theory is not Racism.

Nowhere in the writings of Professor Derrick Bell or any other recognized CRT theorist is there to be found the argument or even the notion that all white people are racist.  But, it is clear and undeniable that the system, that is the laws (policies) and law enforcement have always been and remain at base racist in intent and purpose. 

Why Is There Such An Uproar Now?

“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.’ Hamlet, Act III, Scene II.  

Now that we know what CRT is we should have a clearer understanding of why although it has been around since the 1970’s it has become the right wing’s latest strawman with a ferocity unseen since the civil rights movement.   It is now the cause celebre of a nationwide campaign of “think tanks, advocacy groups, and media outlets” to make the term toxic and to prevent, at all costs the teaching of it to students k-12.  More accurately it has not been seen since the pressure to remove confederate statues.

The argument goes that the Republicans/conservatives see it as a way to regain control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections but it is much more than that.  Think maintenance of White Supremacy and the prevention of the attainment of an African American Critical Mass.  

When Race Was Taught In Public Schools 

Southern textbooks were “primers in white supremacy.”

 It is almost laughable but certainly hypocritical that in textbooks utilized by educational systems primarily but not only in the South, “[f]or more than 150 years,”  African Americans were presented {in textbooks] to millions of children, both black and white, as a sub-human, incapable of achieving culture, happy in servitude, a passive outsider.” The Three R’s—Reading, ‘Riting, and Race: The Evolution of Race in Mississippi History Textbooks, 1900-1995

The intention of these teachings was to create a mindset in the coming generations that would believe in white supremacy and its intentional distortion of history. It has been argued that the reason was to “prepare students for the fight against integration.  As might have been predicted this approach came just after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954)  

Clearly, the opponents of CRT have enough experience with the intentional distortion of history for political reasons and its power to mold beliefs in the young to be alarmed. They have seen it work.  It turned murdering, insurrectionist criminals into heroes whose monuments stand in city squares and state buildings How The US Got So Many Confederate Monuments including state capitals like South Carolina. Now they fight to continue the lie and its symbols as “heritage”. But the inescapable difference is that what they taught was not only political, it was false from start to finish. There is only one race – the human race.  By definition, therefore, no race can be inferior or superior.  

The Fight Against CRT Is Intended to Prevent the Attainment of Critical Mass Among African Americans

 The late J Edgar Hoover, former Director of the Federal Bureau of 

Investigation infamously called for the prevention of the rise of a black messiah.  But what he really sought to prevent was the rise of a person who could “unify and electrify” black people.  So what he really was afraid of was the attainment by black people of what I refer to as Critical Mass (CM) because CM is the antidote to white supremacy.   Federal Bureau of Investigation – COINTELPRO Long-Range Goals and Prevention of a Black “Messiah” | Genius

What is Critical Mass?

  • Critical Mass Is based, by analogy, on the process of nuclear fission by which atoms are split to create the release of energy in a nuclear bomb or a nuclear reactor.  It is important to understand here that energy and power are synonymous terms.
  • The attainment of CM is, in the cultural/political sense, the single most important objective of any organization whose goal is the empowerment of African Americans.
  • CM is the minimum number of “enriched” persons necessary to launch a cultural/political chain reaction.
  • Enrichment is the process of enlightenment by which people of ordinary intelligence, capability and determination are transformed into persons of extraordinary intellect, selfless leadership potential and transcendent will by the attainment of Clarity of Vision. 
  • When CM is attained it will make possible the release of energy/power that will launch   radical, revolutionary, cultural/political chain reactions that will transform our thinking and our lives forever.   

Whether anyone, Hoover included, ever thought of it in these precise terms is unknown and irrelevant. Critical Mass is the antidote to white supremacy because it does not seek to convert or indoctrinate anyone only to bring together a sufficient number of enlightened persons who together will ignite the cultural/political chain reaction that will change the course of history and usher in the new age. Critical Mass can be composed of all enlightened persons – not just African Americans.    

When these two concepts (CRT and CM) are considered in tandem we can see why conservative Republicans are so vehemently opposed to the teaching of Critical Race Theory.  They recognize that by providing accurate, unbiased information to students at a young age we will be able to reach critical mass and create what Hoover dreaded, a unified, energized critical mass that will be composed of not only black people but of both black and white.   

As I have said many times it is the system that is the conspiracy.  Until the system of white supremacy is confronted head-on and exposed universally no meaningful change will come. The best we can expect is what we have always received – slight, incremental change for the masses and wide publication of the successes of those who succeed in spite of the conspiracy.  

Real substantive change can only be made by a transformative resistance strategy intended to lay the groundwork for wide-scale resistance …that goes beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures.” 

Until there is real systemic change the conspiracy that is the law will continue to be self-perpetuating ad infinitum. Therein lies the real reason that CRT is creating such an uproar.  Because it has the potential to undermine the system of white supremacy by confronting the lies that make it invisible to all but those who know where to look and what to look for.   

In short, Critical Race Theory is the strategy that will enable us to destroy the social, economic, and political [and cultural] systems that collectively enable white people to maintain power over people of other races.”  You do not have to be part of it to support it.  Simply put if you do not support its antithesis you support it  Through the attainment of CM we can end racism and white supremacy in our time.  

Johnnie Cordero is an African American thought leader who identifies as a Radical Centrist. He is the current Chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina. Cordero is the host of the “Radical Review” podcast and is a frequent political contributor and commentator for The MinorityEye. Cordero holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence. He is the author of ‘Total Black Empowerment: A Guide to Critical Thinking in the Age of Trump.’ His new book ‘Theodicy and The Power of the African Will’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book sellers.

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