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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

There is Nothing 'Theoretical' About Critical Race Theory

When scientists use the word ‘theory’ they are usually referring to something abstract or hypothetical, yet to be fully verified by observation or experiment.

Theories are helpful aids to understanding phenomena, explaining how the physical or social world works, and making predictions about what may happen in the future. But so long as they remain theories, they are in principle capable of being countered, overturned, or falsified by evidence yet to be discovered.

With that in mind let’s look at critical race theory. It seems to me right off the bat that there is nothing 'theoretical' about structural or systemic racism in either the US or Canada. Racism is an increasingly well-documented present and historical fact that has been verified over and over in personal, social, religious, cultural, and legal domains of understanding and practice.

Slavery, white supremacist organizations, draconian immigration policy, segregation, colonialism, mass graves of indigenous people, police violence against black people, residential schools, revisionist history that whitewashes a discriminatory past, vast economic disparities between white people and black or indigenous people, overrepresentation of black and indigenous peoples in prison—none of the latter are ‘theoretical’.

They are just facts on the ground—and as we have recently discovered, to our great shame, facts under the ground.

So, the next time you hear the expression ‘Critical Race Theory’, remember that the lived experience of those who have been systematically discriminated against is not in the least ‘theoretical’, but something on the order of a fundamental truth they have been living for hundreds of years.

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