Within the culture wars. Facts matter. I was once asked what one does with a legal studies degree. Well? I’m retired at 60. And I’ve learned how to engage in a war of words and lies. I can add truth. I posted this in a Melrose page.
CRT: A Primer
So I asked the question of all of you to help explain what Critical Race Theory is. My friend Ray Chen shared a posting about why it’s important. Tonight I’m writing to help you understand what it is….
In the 1970’s a group of professors, teachers, within Harvard’s school of law started asking questions about how we teach legal theory in our law schools. They specifically wondered how “stare decisis”, literally translated as “to stand by things decided” applies. I’ve also seen it called “what has come before”. They wondered how people saw our legal system, real people, not educated, trained, lawyers. They asked how people like you understood it. Out of that was born what is known as “Critical Legal Studies”. What they looked at, tried to understand was the discrepancies between what a common person saw the legal system to be and what it really is. Strange things like most of us think it’s about protecting us from crime when the reality is that more than eighty percent of our legal system is about corporate and tax law. They recognized that most of us, well, age matters, at my age, we think of Perry Mason as how the law works. The next generation thought of LA Law. My 20 something daughter likely thinks of one of the Law and Order series. Yet none of that is true. Most criminal cases don’t go to trial, they plea bargain. Frankly? We as a society have chosen not to spend what it would cost for everyone to go to trial, so we make deals.
Steve Arons. Janet Rifken. Ron Pipken. Peter D’Errico. M. Ethan Katsh. John Bonsignore. Why do they matter? They were there at the beginning. They helped create CLS. And they were my teachers. Every one of them.
Sometime in the late 1970’s they left Harvard. I don’t know the reasons for the split. They created the Legal Studies program at UMass, Amherst. My degree program. I think part of the split was they wanted to teach undergrads and Harvard said no, this is an advanced program. Both are key points in this silly Republican culture war about CRT. The reality is that CLS, CRT are advanced studies, not things in our children’s K-12 programs.
Around the same time of the split in CLS the Black faculty at Harvard Law School starting saying that yeah, CLS matters, yet it’s missing something. It doesn’t get, it doesn’t listen to how race matters and is built into our legal system. Fact check: it’s been here since day one. I don’t mean 1619 (there’s a reason it’s called the “1619 Project”), I mean our Constitution. I won’t do the work for you. Educate yourself. Understand what the “3/5’s Compromise” means and why the Senate is not based on proportional representation. Anyway, look at what Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw said. They said we, you, none of us can understand this country unless we look at how race was built into our legal system. If you aren’t understanding this by now? Read the Virginia Slave Codes. Tell me what they say.
Whoops, I’ve been told “educate yourself”. Kind of have. Been there. Done that.
So, I’ll be shouted down, just for posting. Yet I’ll ask you, was a friend wrong when he said “You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own set of facts”. Everything I’ve said is based on a historical record. You want to debate this?
P.S. How is this about Melrose? CRT, what it has asked, questioned? It explains why Melrose is so white.