Critical race theory (CRT) is an academic movement made up of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race, and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social and cultural issues as they relate to race, law, and social and political power.
CRT originated in the mid-1970s in the writings of several American legal scholars including Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, Cheryl Harris, Charles R. Lawrence III, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia J. Williams. CRT emerged as a movement by the 1980s, reworking theories of critical legal studies (CLS) with more focus on race. As the word "critical" suggests, both theoretical frameworks are rooted in critical theory, a Marxist social philosophy which argues that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individual and psychological factors.
CRT is loosely unified by two common themes:
Critics of CRT argue that it relies on social constructionism, elevates storytelling over evidence and reason, rejects the concepts of truth and merit, and opposes liberalism.