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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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Janet Vickers
Janet Vickers
Jun 28, 2021

Thanks Fred. Your posts are easy to read and real. I sense that politics, economics and society at present - has lied and lied on top of lies. Is it possible for us all who are decent but deceived to find the right actions that will bring back the power-systems to human level? I hope that the system can become responsive to the moral obligation to care for life and living systems on this planet first.

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Fred Guerin
Fred Guerin
Jun 28, 2021
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I think your hope is well-founded Janet--so many people around the world are not just talking about this but living it in very concrete ways. It is something I elaborate in my forthcoming book on environmental ethics!

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