Earlier this week I read a critique of critical race theory (CRT) which provoked a couple of observations which I posted to social media.
Today I read a critique of critical race theory by a white Christian theologian. The article was relatively nuanced and I'm not especially interested in defending CRT, but he did two things that felt really familiar that I want to note.
First, while adequately summarizing what CRT is (from my layperson's perspective), he showed no interest in why CRT emerged as an explanation for USA racism. The author was content to deal in the realm of pure ideas; the lived experiences behind those ideas entirely escaped his curiosity. This seems like a regular move made by white critics of Black thought (theory, theology, etc.). Why?
My hunch is that because white culture is dominant and normative, white critics have been handed the privilege of thinking/critiquing/theologizing in a de-contextualized manner. We've not had to be aware of our own social locations and how these have shaped us, so we ignore these forming realities for others as well.
Second, when offering his criticism, the author didn't engage at all with any of the African American theological tradition(s). This despite the fact that the CRT representative he engaged with was himself a (Black) Christian whose faith informed his theoretical reflections.
This happens all the time! White Christians will take contributions made by Black people (authors, theologians, academics, etc.) and critically run their ideas through a white frame. This despite the fact that the traditions, theories, theologies, etc. informing the Black person are available for anyone to engage with. But most of the time this source material gets dumped at the feet of whatever the white gatekeepers have agreed is the neutral standard.
I doubt these tendencies - lack of curiosity and ignorance of other frameworks - are usually malicious. But they do indicate a pretty thick bubble, a sort of captivity to cultural homogeneity.
These sorts of things are understandable in secular cultures, predictable results of the pursuit and consolidation of power. But, given who we're meant to be, it's frustrating to see them expressed so unreflectivity in the church.