Critical race theorist and assistant professor of sociology at Villanova Glenn Bracey spoke to a seminar on Zoom about the Marxist foundations of critical race theory, which has been sweeping through American universities and institutions. He says outright that "critical race theory is grounded in Marxism."
"The Marxist foundation of critical race theory is, at base, a spiritual concern," Bracey said.
Critical race theory has emerged from academia and taken over public discourse. Bracey defined it as "critique of how race shapes and is shaped by the law." This, he said, is "in terms of legal jurisprudence, legislation, law school pedagogy and enforcement of the law. It's a look at how law racializes every aspect of our lives, from constructing racial categories themselves, to defining what each racial category means, defining rights and privileges attached to it. It motivates racialized performance at work, it limits our practicable rights in terms of reproduction, and immigration and education, and activism which is a very big deal today."
Bracey said that critical race theory has six basic tenets, and they are:
- "Race is socially constructed."
- "Racism is a normal outcome of US institutions and social relations." Bracey explained this as "Racism is the every day operation of our American system."
- Intersectionality, "the notion that our identities put us into different social locations. Those social locations come with specific needs and perspectives and insights on the world and that we can gain a lot about the notion of truth and about how our entire society operates by paying attention to the people who speak from those different locations."
- "The black white binary: The notion that our society was partially organized along a white on top/black on bottom binary but that racism affects different racial groups differently."
- "Racism is permanent," Bracey said, noting that this was "the most controversial" tenet of the six. Bracey said that racism is permanent "not because of objective reasoning…but because whites are fixated on blackness and anti-blackness, and they orient different other racial groups in the middle of white and black in order to protect their own superiority. In other words, racism is something that white people could decide to give up. They could change the social [relationships] they could change the way that they, their anti-blackness, but they won't."
- "Commitment to narrative."
Bracey discussed that critical race theory "has been in the news of late," and brought up President Donald Trump's ban on critical race theory in federal government agencies and institutions, and in any third party corporations that have been contracted to work with the federal government. Bracey surmised that Trump got his information on critical race theory "from the church…from white evangelicals."
In fact, Trump got much of his original intel on critical race theory from investigative journalist Christopher Rufo, who broke the story last summer about Sandia Labs, America's top nuclear R&D facility, running workshops to teach white men about their purported privilege.
For Bracey, the biggest opponent of critical race theory is Christianity. In order to combat that, he said that "it's important for us to—given the power, frankly, of the church, to move politics, given its funding, given how so many people come to the academy first with the church as a large backdrop in their lives, that it's important that we, as critical race theorists, be able to speak to them on their terms."
"We as critical race theorists need to continue to be aggressive in promoting critical race theory, we should say how it relates to spirituality and religion in particular," Bracey said.
"Evangelical Christians are very upset about critical race theory because it is self-consciously grounded in Marxism. Now, when Evangelical Christians hear critical race theory is grounded in Marxism, what they hear is, religion is opiate of the masses, that religion is a distraction from justice, that religion is nothing more than fictions that are—that make people deviate from reality," he said.
Bracey goes on to define critical race theory's relationship to Marx as something of a spiritual construct itself. His reasoning is that Marx was concerned with alienation, was concerned with modern culture deadening humanity, and that critical race theory, because it is founded in Marxism with Marx's concerns, is therefore a spiritual undertaking.
"The core question of critical race theory is one of releasing people—especially people of color—especially black people—from the oppressive systems that deny us access to our species being, including racism. It's Marxism, my point being, critical race theory is Marxism, is fundamentally a spiritual concern, and it's the same spiritual concern that evangelical Christians have, in that they believe that all people are made in the imago Dei, the image of God," Bracey said.
"The church and critical race theory actually have the same purpose with respect to Marxist origins even though evangelicals don't seem to recognize it." Bracey goes on to incorrectly use the New Testament to justify the raising up of the oppressed to become the oppressor. He said, using a few verses from Corinthians, that "the marginalized voices are those that are supposed to be privileged in the church," and that this is the same argument that critical race theory and intersectionality make.