Home Voices The Exchange Pat Sawyer: Cautions Regarding Critical Race Theory, Part 3

Pat Sawyer: Cautions Regarding Critical Race Theory, Part 3

The third and final post of Dr. Sawyer's thoughts and concerns on CRT.

Caution 7) CRT Tenets 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 13, and 14 can lead one to place too much importance on anecdotal experience in understanding societal reality. This can lead to inordinate suspicion of knowledge claims emanating from sources of different ethnic/racial and social locations. It can cause one to flat out reject empirical data and knowledge claims that have universal scope merely because they are in conflict with one’s personal experience. It is here that the seductive, deleterious drug of “my truth” perceptions can crowd out “the truth” reality. While anecdotal experience is important and can indeed tell us something about our particular lived experience of reality (and even this is not absolute), it is not an automatic or even necessarily safe guide to understanding larger, universal reality. Part of my scholarship addresses, critiques, and repudiates white power and white nationalism. Members in these groups are often convinced that POC are deviant, lesser, and inferior to Whites because of the personal, anecdotal experience they have had with a few POC. They have extrapolated a handful of personal experiences to universal claims, beliefs, and conclusions. Such reasoning is specious. To be sure, at times our personal experience does line up with universal reality, of course, but we must be careful to supplement our understanding with broader research and analysis and Scripture before we can come to universal claims and conclusions.

Caution 8) CRT tenets 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, and 15 can lead one to apply their identity and social positioning to their interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures. This possible influence of CRT is particularly pernicious as it can lead to both subtle and overt forms of eisegesis and consequently open the door to a plethora of heretical positions. CRT’s heavy emphasis on black identity, the power of black voice, lived experience in the formation of knowledge, the ubiquity of white supremacy, and the need for emancipation can skew one’s approach (whether black, white, or anyone) to the Scriptures. It can lead one to see temporal liberation and the liberation of marginalized groups from oppressive hegemonic forces as a primary substrate undergirding and animating all of Scripture. In this way it acts as a hermeneutical prism bending text after text to a temporal liberatory end. In full form it can act as a twin sister of Black Liberation Theology and its attending heresies.

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psawyer@outreach.com'
Pat Sawyer has a B.A. in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, an M.A. in Communication Studies from UNC Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in Educational Studies and Cultural Studies from UNC Greensboro. Dr. Sawyer is a faculty member at UNC Greensboro and serves on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed education journal, Philosophy, Theory, and Foundations in Education. He is a member of the Summit Church in RDU, North Carolina. He can be reached via Twitter @RealPatSawyer.