Whiteness and Racism

I have now published a book:

Harris, D. (2024) Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social Science: a Critique
available on Amazon UK

A critique of this controversial approach to race and racism involves thorough summaries of the work to avoid popular conceptions of CRT just as part of the 'woke' agenda. Critique can then take two forms -- 'internal' and 'external'. The first part of this book pursues an examination of the internal consistency and development of central arguments in CRT with Chapters on the basic 'tenets', the empirical evidence in Britain for racial and ethnic inequality, the notions of microaggressions and counterstories and White privilege.The discussion examines supporting work and reveals both strengths and methodological and theoretical problems. The second part of the book examines Sociological work more external to CRT and offers Chapters on definitions of racism, such as those involving concepts of the institutions and the Unconscious, and summaries of the extensive work done on the UK education system, especially on teacher expectations and biases and their interaction with parental expectations and peer cultures. Chapter 8 looks at earlier studies of race relations in British urban communities and discusses their relevance. Chapter 9 focuses on a current controversial debate about decolonizing the education system.

This page has links leading to notes (NB -- these are my notes -- go off and read the real things). on articles discussing various aspects of the recent debates about critical race theory (CRT), its notions of whiteness as 'epistemic' and its discussions about how to disrupt such whiteness in policy and in research. I have focused on educational research and practice in particular, and they have been pursued in two rather specific and possibly arbitrary ways:

(a) The debates about teaching race and racism that occupied 4 volumes of  a series produced by a QUANGO called C-SAP, designed to  focus on teaching and learning in the social sciences in UK Higher Education. That series, and some associated conferences, were instrumental in introducing Critical Race Theory (CRT) to me, and possibly lots of other UK academics, and led to a more general interest in the issues.

(b) A recent special issue of a journal on educational research (International Journal of Research and Method in Education) which proposed to focus on 'racially-just' and 'post-colonial'  epistemologies, to move forward to do actual non-racist or anti-racist research. I gathered that  there was some controversy about this special issue, however. Indeed, the whole area has become controversial, and I pursued some of the background debates, such as the controversies over the recent Sewell Report on racism in the UK. Any critics clearly run the risk of being accused of still being enmeshed in some kind of racism, possibly epistemic racism, which is sometimes seen as all-encompassing and almost impossible for white people to break with. I must run that risk myself, even with my preferred approach which is 'immanent critique' -- taking the claims made by the writers themselves and investigating them critically rather than using some alternative approach to raise doubts, in so far as that is possible

These foci will not produce a systematic review of the field, of course which is massive anyway. I am a retired academic: I have let myself off the task of producing such a review. I tended to snowball -- if I saw an interesting piece cited in a work I was reading anyway, I looked it up. To cite a minor annoyance, I cannot access free copies of all the articles in the Journal until  the publisher's embargo is lifted in 18 months, and then possibly not even then, so finance may affect my sampling technique! (I could afford the exorbitant fees Taylor and Francis charge to read their journal articles but I don't know that I want to). I offer these notes as possible steps to interest any readers.

I intend to keep adding material to these sections, so keep coming back. These are only rough subdivisions.

Critical Race Theory -- more general debate

Arday page -- articles on Britain ( HE and mental health) by Prof. Jason Arday .Empirical research of various kinds with a 'CRT lens'. Includes a cautionary note
Bell on civil rights -- an early but devastating critique of the defeat of civil rights movements in the USA. One of the sources of the turn to CRT. Also used fictional 'chronicles' as an early 'counterstory'
Birthrights -- a lengthy report on claims of systemic racism in UK maternity services, mostly qualitative
Bhopal --White privilege. Lengthy [!] discussion mostly of the UK. Central contradiction between the universality of White privilege and the detail of specific inequalities among White and Black people.
Bhopal -- discrimination in HE (small,policy-related study, incorporated in the above)
Blackcrit -- an argument within CRT focusing specifically on blackness as a cultural development. Covers some criticisms on emphasis on the black/white binary in CRT
Black educational underachievement in the UK -- a review of official UK statistics over 25 years by Gillborn et al., but still informed by CRT on institutional racism
Black boys' peer groups -- a rare study of high-achievers and the positive influences from their peer groups (and a review of the 'dominant discourse' about negative influences)
Bonilla-Silva & Forman -- critical discourse analysis of 'racetalk', the new evasive racism that tries to conceal itself with various 'linguistic manoeuvres'
Chinese children -- a study of a 'successful minority'
CRT and Bourdieu on Black people's experience in HE. Some counterstories too.
CRT and education -- a review of some US work and a plea to return to fundamentals
CRT and quantitative research -- argues for no incompatibility with quantitative modelling, no exclusive focus on qualitative research, and gives some interesting examples of non-dominant cultural capital
CRT as bricolage -- incoherence between the tenets but still useful when split and challenging other bricolaged approaches eg HEI policy
Dixson and Rousseau --good early US summary of CRT tenets and legal analysis and implications for US education
Fraser on the politics of identity -- an eminent feminist raises some problems with zero-sum approaches and suggests an alternative model
Gillborn -- trenchant criticism of teacher assessment regimes in UK schools (setting and tiering) as racist in outcome.See also Connolly et al for a statistical modelling exercise comparing ability at KS2 and teacher judgment in allocating students to Maths sets in secondary schools
Gillborn et al -- submission to Sewell, containing useful criticisms, especially of the emphasis on underachieving white working class boys qualifying  for free school meals
Gillborn and Mirza -- pre-Sewell (2000) review of evidence on UK educational inequality by race, class and gender. Incomplete data compared to Sewell, no regressions, so controversial estimates of the relative influences of the factors re trends and inconsistencies. Considerable complexity revealed between local and national findings.
Hall -- new ethnicities. Cautiously challenges essentialism in Black identities and sees it as contingent. Important consequences for the eternality of racism. This is an earlier version.
Hill Collins -- essential early text on Black feminism. Very clear discussion of the dilemmas and problems. Much better discussion than much of what follows in CRT
Hylton-- much cited exhortation to just do CRT without worrying about definitions, ambiguities, difficulties and other pedantry
Institutional racism -- but from a ' racism formation', multi-level point of view. Good criticisms of naive (and CRT) views. Bit dated.
Kennedy on CRT -- an early, lengthy and copiously-referenced refutation of CRT attacks on US legal academia. Very generalisable to CRT in education and social science
Ladson-Billings -- an early piece on CRT and education. Very informative, influential and much borrowed and cited. Lots of overlap with the piece below
Ladson-Billings and Tate --another  much-cited foundational piece introducing CRT to education from legal scholarship, showing serious limitations compared to social science methodology
Marmot Review 2020 -- on health inequalities during Covid-19, including those affecting BAME groups and arguing 'structural racism' was a 'cause of [the other socioeconomic] causes'
Omi and Winant -- racial formation theory (and hegemony and colourblindness)  in the USA
Plan4Sport -- recent well-publicised review on institutional racism in Cricket Scotland consisting of weak positivist 'research' and managerial paper-shuffling
Pluckrose -- Demystifying Critical Race Theory.-- a post on her campaigning Counterweight blog. A condensed version of the critical arguments in Pluckrose and Lindsay on CRT and its evolution
Racism in UK HE -- a polemical piece based on 'othering' in a study in a 1992 UK university
Runnymede Trust survey on racial prejudice in Britain 2017 -- marvellous examples of positivism
Sewell -- the UK Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities 2021 arguing that socioeconomic and geographical inequalities were as, if not more, important than 'racial' differences. Furious responses -- eg D. Olusaga in the Guardian, joining Sewell to Farage and various Conservative politicians criticising 'woke' and 'gesture politics':

The most audacious culture war play of 2021 was the publication in March of the Sewell report, a cynical attempt to dismiss the importance and even the existence of structural racism and pit poor black people against poor white people in a zero-sum game for resources and legitimacy. Characterised by the government’s supporters as a piece of work that would reframe the national conversation around race, this masterclass in gaslighting began to disintegrate within hours of publication...What the Sewell report came up against were the very people from whom it had drawn its evidence, the experts across many fields who rapidly dissected the report line by line, showing how their work had been misinterpreted or misrepresented. [The link in the article led to the Marmot Review 2020 which criticised Sewell but not totally dismissively as you can see if you follow the link above]

Sewell --his controversial book on Black masculinities in school, victimhood and perceptions of racism, and 'acting Black'. Criticisms of institutional racism. See also the controversial Prospect article that so annoyed Gillborn and Vieler-Porter and led to their attack and reassertion of institutional racism,especially via teacher assessment.
Social media--an exploratory literature review showing the difficulties of researching the influence of social media on racism (thought to be substantial) rather than anything substantive
Solórzano & Yosso -- summarises CRT and its connections with intersectionality and types of counter-storytelling. Mostly about US education

Strand -- massive survey data and statistical analysis on factors in Black Caribbean underachievement. Authoritative. Eventually implicates 'teacher bias' [but this might just mean in a statistical sense?]
Structural Racism and Anti-Racism in the UK -- lots of recent controversial popular material of pretty debatable quality as evidence
Tikley -- critical analysis of the Sewell Report defending antiracism (and see Tikley on critical realism below)
Whiteness as property -- a very influential early piece full of dreadful stories of how the law in USA history consolidated white supremacy as property. Less applicable to modern UK  and intellectual property though?
White fragility -- a good explanation and argument about this concept, which is sometimes used tactically, allegedly, to resist anti-racist arguments.
White logic --Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi. Rather polemical, about race as a fixed variable in studies using statistical relations.
Wilfred Reilly page -- listing a collection of mostly short magazine articles by this US critic of BLM and CRT. Polemical but well-argued, and based on methodological critiques
Working class white underachievement -- one of several contributions on this apparent counter to the emphasis on black Caribbean underachievement. Good on redistributive justice as zero-sum game.
Yancy -- excellent general discussion of whiteness and racism. I have highlighted particular chapters under separate headings here and here
Yancy -- a specific article where Foucault is used to analyse Whiteness and its effects in a Morrison novel [looks like one of several similar ones]
YMCA Report -- on experience of institutional racism by young black people in the UK. Testimony based with some tactical support from official statistics. Hints of role of social media?

Debates with marxism
Cole -- an early salvo against CRT and Gillborn in particular.
Gillborn's reply to Cole -- one of them (equally early). So far, each have accused the other of reductionism -- to class and race respectively -- and avoided some telling examples raised by each other
Walton --brings us up to date, summarises the issues very well and suggests a 'nuanced' marxism in response -- which looks a lot like old-fashioned gramscianism of the 1990s (ie please buy my 1992 book)
Hall -- a much more theoretical debate on marxist theories and how they approach racially structured societies -- very good. Denies any general theories of racism and favours specific marxist analysis
Bonilla-Silva -- an early argument for more sociological analysis of institutions and how they reproduce racism in the present --long overdue. (Neo)marxist inspired (?)
Meghji -- draws heavily on Bonilla-Silva but more sociological. Emphasizes the myth of colourblindness as crucial in current white ideology, and social organisations as reproducing racism
Golash-Boza -- a pale imitation of Bonilla-Silva and Meghji, but with good background on earlier sociological theories and some useful early definitions of institutionalized and systemic racism
NB this study of a global elite,race and gender -- bit descriptive and technical
xenoracism -- a concept central to Institute of Race Relations analysis (Sivanandan was Director) to explain racism and immigration policy in the EU in marxist terms.

Early White racism
Cashmore -- a classic early study of the complexities and variations of the 'logic of racism' in Birmingham. 'Ordinary' racism, that is, not that of political extremists
East End of London -- a 'community study', a classic revisited. Racism as born from resentment at State-imposed changes in entitlement to welfare in the East End
Paterson -- a completely different early study of 'West Indians' in London. Very little on White racism, which is not seen as a long-term problem. Quite a lot on the divisions among the 'WI' community.
Rex and Moore - another classic study, of 'housing classes' as the agents in emergent forms of racialisation. Collective action by Whites to gain advantages is 'non-rational but not irrational'
van Dijk -- a classic if dated study using discourse analysis of White denials of racism (see also Picower and Bonilla-Silva and Forman)

Black Middle Class (BMC)  and school choice -- one of a series on the BMC arising from a large research project. BMC parents balance strategically between race and class when choosing a 'good mix'. NB uses Bourdieu on social class as a matter of possessing various 'capitals', not orthodox marxism as in the debates with the marxists above
BMC at the intersection of class and race -- another in the series, a very good discussion of the 'liminality' of Black socially mobile people classically caught between two social classes, and raced as well
BMC educational strategies -- same series: coping with class liminality and  racism specifically with schools and teachers
BMC educational strategies again --same team, more details on different clusters within the BMC, varying according to possession and activation of Bourdieuvian capitals
Bourdieu, race and class -- a small case-study but prefaced with a useful discussion of Bourdieu which helps with the longer pieces above
Disability and racism -- some controversial connections explored through concepts like 'erasure' and 'colonisation'
Dis/ability and CRT -- some positive proposals (in the form of tenets)  for 'DisCrit'
Gillborn on the primacy of race -- the intersection of race and learning disability in the big study on the BMC) which reveals (contestable) claims of  the primacy of race nonetheless
Gillborn on white working class underachievers -- tries out CRT on intersectionality and interest convergence but really about ideological articulation in the press of WWC boys as victims
Intersectionality -- Crenshaw's foundational proposals for intersectional research on black women combining antiracism and feminism. Two lengthy articles on case law. Excellent case studies Good on identity politics and 'vulgar social constructionist' critiques. Badly misunderstood by some critics of the concept. Notes on a You Tube talk too.
Transracialism -- Tuvel's contribution to the controversy, arguing for the right to choose your race
White middle-class identity and race -- excellent critique of mixed motives (including class distancing) of WMC parents choosing mixed-race schools
White working class -- rather partisan debate on the 'left behind' argument, interest divergence and white psychological wage of racism (very old US refs), desperately trying to connect it to Brexit
Wright et al -- intersectional resources as cultural capital as factors in the success of Black students in UK education (see also Yosso)

Class dimensions -- rather preliminary but a useful reminder of social class
Critique of microaggressions -- a devastating critique of the concept by Cantu and Jussim and the methods that underpin the main research supporting applications in eg campus codes of conduct.
Dealing with microaggressions at work -- feeble liberal idealistic advice from the Harvard Business Review
Microaggressions in HE -- a very preliminary piece by N Rollock, no less,exploring the concept in the UK via a fictional story, almost a 'chronicle' like D Bell
Microaggressions and the 'Black episteme' -- a rather modest piece after interesting claims about distinctive Black ways of knowing alluding to Yancy (below) .On UK HE
Sue et al --racial microaggressions. Perhaps the most-cited work
Yancy--very well-argued, using concepts like the White gaze and proper social theory on the dialectical construction of social identity. Long.

Disrupting whiteness, decolonizing, indigenous knowledge as an alternative epistemology

Anti-racist research
-- introduction to an early collection I came across, which sets out the usual aims and claims rather idealistically
Bartlett and Vavrus -- on comparative case study, interesting in its own right, generally critical rather than specifically antiracist, claimed as somehow supporting the transhiphop study below (it doesn't really)
BIPOC oral history -- developed as a counter to conventional White oral history. A piece in the special edition.
Being woke-- three sistas of colour tell how they resisted white supremacy in US HEIs using counterstories ('collaborative autoethnography') and solidarity
Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi --challenging the assumptions in conventional (White) studies of race
Carter and Jocson -- critical strategies to uncover racism via da Silva, with good applications to a university statement about policy (an article in the special edition)
CRT in (US) higher education -- a review of studies of students and Faculty 'of colour' inspired by CRT. Interesting and controversial methods to tell counterstories of experiences.
Da Silva -- blackness as matter, positive substance, not just 'not-whiteness' (very obscure and pseudy way to get there though, after Fanon or Irigaray both rejected the binary not-white/male long ago)
Delgado -- a classic piece on how stories and counterstories act as effective ways to counter official neutral discourses (mostly in law in his case)
Feminist educational research on British Pakistani women -- methodological and ethical dilemmas encountered earlier by S. Rizvi (Rizvi is an editor of the special edition)
Négritude -- notes on a short piece in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy filling out the very brief mention of this concept in the hiphop pedagogy piece.
Pláticas -- principles of a Chicana/Latina research method mentioned by Carter and Jocson and Rizvi in her Intro (but never developed). Community discussion based.
Pláticas and testimonios -- more on this from Latinx researchers included in the 2nd edn. of the special issue
Rizvi's Introduction to the special edition on racially just epistemologies and those that disrupt whiteness
Strategic emotionality -- a useful discussion on the need for Black women to manage emotional bits in accounts of racism.Implications for 'authenticity' though
Tikley on critical realism -- mostly about international education, but some good arguments about empiricism which seems to support the critical work on racism. Contradictory implications overall though?
Transhiphop pedagogy in Senegal -- one of the pieces in the special edition claiming to show 'epistemic disobedience' among Senegalese youth. Very condensed version of Niati's doctoral dissertation (notes here)
Visual elicitation in focus groups -- claims that showing a mildly racist video as a prompt disrupts the whiteness inherent in normal focus groups (also in the special edition)
Yancy -- an excellent chapter on 'White seriousness' manifested in Foucaldian discourses producing the phantasised Black and White bodies, including European philosophy (very good critiques here).
Yosso --alternative cultural capitals among POC (see also CRT and Bourdieu)

Avineri -- on Marx on colonialism
Bhambra and Holmwood --restoring colonialism as a key factor in modernity and a significant absence in social theory.
Chilisa on indigenous research methods --  a couple of chapters from this textbook, some interesting examples, the usual arguments otherwise, very idealistic as usual
Decolonising methodologies -- notes on Linda Tuhiwai Smith's classic and much-cited discussion. It's about New Zealand, so a very different context from the USA or UK for racism
Decolonising Art Education -- an early piece discussing multicultural and anti-racist approaches. Some suggestions for inclusions. Some discussion (rare) of implications for, say, assessment. Huge list of refs.
Epistemic disobedience -- a main concept from Mignolo (together with 'delinking' and 'border thinking'). Cited many times. Three articles summarised here. The actual stuff is on a very broad scale, about Third World thinking. Some good examples of indigenous thinkers, but I think they are better grasped as 'border' thinkers between two cultures
Indigenous research -- a plea for mixed methods and pragmatism. Some useful examples in education.
Levi-Strauss on the 'savage mind' -- some complicated anthropology to contrast to the ludicrous simplifications in views of pre-colonial societies in much of the decolonisation material
Nguzo Saba as a defnition of Africentredness [sic]. A psychometric study based on it to see how African American prison inmates and drug users measured up. Weird
Santos 1 -- very dense criticisms of Eurocentric thought and outlines of global South epistemology and its characteristics (very general)
Santos 2 -- more on 'diatopical hermeneutics' as a form of intercultural dialogue. Tries isomorphisms between Islam, Hinduism and Western human rights. 'This project may sound rather utopian', he concludes [!]
Scheurich and Young -- often-cited classic early piece on epistemological/epistemic racism/whiteness [see also white theory boys below]

Teaching 'race' in (mostly) HE -- some dilemmas from practice

'Anti-racist hell' -- a liberal (Black) US professor encounters a cult-like anti-racist programme.
Culturally relevant pedagogy -- an excellent discussion (i.e.I agree with it) by G Ladson-Billings based on some intense action research with effective teachers. Also has a recent follow-up.
Ellsworth -- a brilliant classic early study designing a university course using critical pedagogy to tackle institutional racism -- and the contradictions it generated
Denying whiteness -- very good piece by Picower on how white teachers resist 'multicultural' education courses during training
Homework differences -- a thorough quantitative US study on racial and ethnic differences in time spent on homework
Reflexivity -- a thoughtful piece on the discomfort produced by academic reflexivity about colonialism when confronting activists' own experience-based politics.
Research and Practice Partnerships -- a case-study which claims to show racist undertones to discussions in a US RPP, using 'counterstories' of microaggressions. One in the special edition. One of several critiques of white people's 'niceness' as a diversionary technique to manage discussions of racism
Science education -- themes from CRT especially science as White property used to guide a science teacher preparation programme. Pretty unconvincing
Student understandings of racism -- a small survey-based study of US students, a useful model as a preliminary guide to teaching?
Teacher expectations review -- a recent survey of work in this field, with useful discussion of the complications. Not particularly focused on race though, but good critical implications eg for the YMCA report
Teaching indigenous knowledge -- a newspaper article reporting New Zealand practice and dilemmas
Teacher resilience -- teachers of colour and their support networks.Very welcome addition!
'White theory boys' -- monsters who do epistemic racism and sexism? This ethnographic study challenges this conception and suggests more of an uneasy performance of the role
Woke pedagogy -- very brief intro, written earlier by A Caldera (an editor of the special edition)


I've recorded some informal audio podcasts on my personal experiences, views and asides, available here