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Resources for Becoming Actively Anti-Racist: Legal Theories

Legal and non-legal resources addressing race and racism

Introduction to Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory (CRT) asserts that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and race itself is a social construct devised by white people to further their own economic and political interests while oppressing people of color. See Tommy Curry, Critical Race Theory, Encyclopedia Britannica  (last updated May 28 2020). CRT directly "confronts the historical centrality and complicity of law in upholding white supremacy (and concomitant hierarchies of gender, class, and sexual orientation)." See Foreword to CRITICAL RACE THEORY, Kimberlé  Crenshaw et al., in CRITICAL RACE THEORY: THE KEY WRITINGS THAT FORMED THE MOVEMENT at xi (Kimberlé Crenshaw et al. eds., 1995).  In do doing, it opposes the idea of color-blindness and neutrality in achieving racial justice, noting that "[c]olorblindness as doctrine not only undermines litigation strategies that rely on race-conscious remediation, but it also soothes social anxiety about whether deeper levels of social criticism, remediation, and reconstruction might be warranted." Kimberlé  Crenshaw, Twenty Years of Critical Race Theory: Looking back to Move Forward, 43 Conn. L. Rev. 1253, 1326 (2011)

Derrick Bell, who was a professor at  Harvard Law School and NYU Law , is considered to be the founder/originator of CRT.  As noted by Professor Bell, CRT recognizes that revolutionizing a culture begins with the radical assessment of it. Derrick A. Bell, Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory, 1995 U. Ill. L. Rev. 893 (1995) (citing John O. Calmore, Critical Race Theory, Archie Schepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World, 65 S. Ca. L. Rev. 2129, 2145 (1992)). 

Suggested Books on Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory Generally

Institutionalized Killings of Black People

Prosecution, Arrest, and Imprisonment

Legal Journals and Articles



Suggested Subject Term Searches on OneSearch

Subject terms are controlled vocabulary used to describe resources indexed in a catalog. Searching by subject terms can be an effective and efficient way of conducting research on a particular topic.  To search by subject on OneSearch, go to Advanced Search and select "SU Subject Terms" on the field menu. Below are some suggested subject searches for finding books and articles on Critical Race Theory, racism, and police misconduct in OneSearch:

Police brutality

Procedural justice

Race relations

Race discrimination -- United States

Critical race theory


Racial bias

Racial discrimination

Police Shootings