Home Education Critical Race Theory and Education: A Marxist Response
Outline of the Book
Before dealing with issues of educational theory, I need to set the scene. In chapter 2, therefore, I begin by briefly tracing the relationship between postmodernism, transmodernism and CRT with respect to the voices of the Other. I then examine CRT’s historical origins in Critical Legal Studies (CLS) in the US, noting how the latter was in part a response to the perception that the analyses of the former were too class-based and underestimated the centrality of ‘race’ as the major form of oppression in society. I conclude with a consideration of CRT’s various ethnic identity- specific varieties.
In the third chapter, I go on to critique from a Marxist perspective two of CRT’s central tenets, namely the favouring of the concept of ‘white supremacy’ over racism, and the prioritising of ‘race’ over class as the primary form of oppression in society. During the course of the chapter, I offer my own wide-ranging definitions of racism and the Marxist concept of racialization, arguing that these formulations are better suited in general to understanding and combating racism in the modern world, than is the CRT concept of ‘white supremacy’. In this chapter, I also address the contemporaneous manifestations of non-color-coded racism.
Chapter 4 looks at what I perceive to be some of the strengths of CRT, namely the use of the concept of property to explain historically segregation in the US; the all-pervasive existence of racism in the world; the importance of voice; the concept of chronicle; interest convergence theory; transposition and CRT and the law in the US. These strengths, however, are not without limitations, and I suggest ways in which some of these strengths could be enhanced by Marxist analysis.
In chapter 5, I look at multicultural and antiracist education in the US and the UK, and at the respective antiracist responses (based on Marxism) in each country. I begin by discussing three forms of reactionary multicultural education in the US identified by Peter McLaren. I go on to analyse McLaren’s advocacy, in his postmodern phase, of ‘critical resistant multicul- turalism’, a form of multiculturalism favoured by Critical Race Theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings. I conclude the section of the chapter on the US by appraising McLaren’s promotion, since he returned to the Marxist problematic, of ‘revolutionary multiculturalism’.
Turning to the UK, I begin by discussing the ongoing, but now protracted, debate over the relative merits of multicultural and antiracist education. In chapter 3, I identified a threat to antiracism and in chapter 4 a threat to the acknowledgement of the existence of institutional racism, in both cases from state and other official rhetoric and policy. I conclude chapter 5 by suggesting that gains made by antiracists are further under threat from a ‘hard’ version of the concept of ‘community cohesion’, currently advocated by the UK Government.
In chapter 6, I address the relatively recent arrival of CRT in educational theorising in the UK. In so doing, I focus on the latest book by influential UK ‘race’ and education theorist David Gillborn in the belief that the growing body of work by Gillborn in the field of CRT is highly likely to consolidate its presence in the UK. Specifically, I critically discuss Gillborn’s views on Marxists; on Marx and slavery., on Marx and ‘species essence’; on ‘White powerholders’; on racist inequalities in the UK education system; on education policy; on ability; on institutional racism; on ‘ model minorities’; on whiteness; on conspiracy; and on ‘struggling where we are’ against‘thepowers that be’.
Globalization from both CRT and Marxist perspectives is examined in chapter 7, where I also look at globalization and its relationship to the new imperialism, arguing that, as well as Marxism, some transmodern concepts, but not others, can aid our understanding of these processes and movements. I then in chapter 8 raise and respond to some common objections to Marxism before examining the alternative of twenty-first century democratic socialism, referring to ongoing developments in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
In chapter 9, I compare CRT suggestions for classroom practice (‘abolition of whiteness’ teaching) with some suggestions, based on Marxist theory (anti-imperialist anti-racist education). I conclude with a call for implementing ‘the last taboo’, namely, to include discussions about capitalism and socialism in the school curriculum.
In the Conclusion, I begin by suggesting that CRT, while making calls for liberation and the end of oppression, in fact offers no concrete solutions. I reiterate that Marxism does provide a solution. Having reconfirmed that the purpose of this book is not to divide, but to unite, I look back to the struggles of Martin Luther King, in particular his attraction to socialist principles in the later part of his life. I conclude by suggesting that, now that CRT is firmly established, Critical Race Theorists might reconsider a realignment with Critical Legal Studies, thus forming a potentially fruitful partnership in the tasks that lie ahead for all progressive people. The book concludes with a Postscript with some reflections on the election of the US’s first black president.
None of the criticisms of the work of others in this book should be read as personal. Indeed, I have great respect for various of the people I critique. My purpose in this book is unequivocal: namely to attempt to align us all around the project of democratic socialism for the twenty-first century, an objective socialist struggle that is fully attuned to the needs of us all. While the concerns of this book are with ‘race’, twenty-first century socialism must, of course, address all forms of exploitation and oppression and be fully cognisant with and address all forms of inequality.
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