Understanding CRT and its implications for family science


Family science has been slow to incorporate critical race theory (CRT) into research on family experiences and outcomes. Discussions of CRT often reduce it to one idea when it is comprised of several key tenets, including the social construction of race, racism as normal and commonplace, critiques of the liberal state, interest convergence, counterstorytelling, intersectionality and anti-essentialism, and Whiteness as a form of property. CRT scholars share the aim of investigating the creation, maintenance, and reproduction of regimes of White supremacy that subordinate people of color, and how such regimes might be transformed. Responding to amplified attention to racial injustices and structural racism, The National Council on Family Relations journals published special issues in 2022, inviting family scholars to submit scholarship engaging with a range of critical frameworks examining racial inequities within families, including CRT. However, many family scientists have limited exposure to CRT in their training and know little about its origins, tenets, applications, and contributions to various disciplines. There is also little understanding of the consequences of not using CRT approaches to enhance our understanding of families and what can be gained from using it. This article describes CRT’s origins and key tenets scholars use in their research alongside examples of family science and related research using CRT to examine the impact of structural racism and racial inequality on the family. The article concludes by discussing how a more robust and sustained engagement with the analytical, methodological, and theoretical frameworks of CRT would enhance our understanding of families.

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