Sunday, May 1, 2011

On American Race Theory

On American Race Theory: In American race theory, there are three basic pillars of thought when determining racial problems. As critical race theorist Derrick Bell has noted, they include the constitutional contradiction, the interest convergence principle, and the price of racial remedies. For the constitutional contradiction, American law originally consisted of a two-track system: one for white (property-owning) males and one for everybody else. When crafted in 1787, the Constitution counted (black) slaves as three-fifths of a person, even though in 1776, the Declaration of Independence had claimed that all men were created equal. As for the interest convergence principle, it entailed racial advances for blacks only when they also served white interests. For instance, in the early Cold War, the Soviet Union pointed to Jim Crow laws as signs that the United States was not living up to its original creed of liberty and justice for all. Therefore, passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act became a product of interest convergence among blacks and whites because the Soviet threat loomed particularly large under Premier Khrushchev. Lastly, the price of racial remedies were the high social costs that blacks and whites alike incurred to create a more equitable American society. One such racial remedy involved urban desegregation busing (pictured above). At times, students became pawns in this vast social experiment, especially when racial tensions erupted into violence.

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