Race Consciousness: The Thematic Content of Racial Distinctiveness in Critical Race Scholarship

Posted: 27 Aug 2008

Date Written: August 24, 2008


The long history of exclusion followed by grudging toleration is not easily forgotten or overcome. Those who have been the insiders must be sensitive to their unspoken assumptions about the newcomers. A true acceptance of the differences in background, experience, talent, and intellectual taste that are represented by the concept of "diversity" will enable all of us to hear and value the many voices of modern legal education. No one in legal education should pretend this process of acceptance will be easy.

The notion that much of history, legal and otherwise, has been written from a white, male, Judeo-Christian-centered perspective has prompted Critical Race Theorists to identify distinct perspectives that explicate the political reality of disempowered people. Critical Race scholars recognize that the unique perspective of many minority scholars has developed from their experience and progress in the face of racially invidious treatment and from their empathy with the physical and psychological conditions of those who have been marginalized. In a post-modern world in which we have come to realize that truth is somewhere, if anywhere, in the symphony of experience, the development of solid legal principles that vindicate the rights of all Americans requires a platform for marginalized voices. Socio-political reality can be understood only if a plurality of voices articulates different points of view; understanding suffers when some voices are silenced. Minority scholars are uniquely positioned to assist in the goal of breaking this silence. After surmounting the constraints of victimization and witnessing the direct and indirect disparate treatment of those of similar hue, minority scholars are often moved toward a determination to effect positive change in the world. Their positions need not be monolithic; their experiences are filtered in varying degrees through both mainstream and minority cultural viewpoints. Nevertheless, the realization of one's "otherness" in relation to American culture, and the simultaneous belief in the Constitution and its vision of oneness, creates a valuable prism through which the ideals and reality of this country can be examined. Law schools must provide for the inclusion of previously excluded voices as a necessary component for understanding the legal structure and its impact on this society.

Keywords: race conscious, diversity

Suggested Citation

Barnes, Robin, Race Consciousness: The Thematic Content of Racial Distinctiveness in Critical Race Scholarship (August 24, 2008). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 103, 1990, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1252562
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