Critical Race Initiative Overview

Coordinator: Rashawn Ray |  (301) 405-9581  | rjray@umd.edu  

The Critical Race Initiative (CRI) is a group of scholars who center critical race theory (CRT) as an important framework by which to understand inequality in society. CRT addresses the ways that race permeates social institutions to maintain systemic forms of inequality. Under this framework, racism not only operates through social interaction stemming from individual prejudice but also through institutional conditions rooted in the culture of social life. Entrenched in white privilege, these conditions maintain an ideology of inferiority among minorities that dictate status, power, and prestige structures.

In addition to focusing on what race is, CRI more so focuses on what race does, how it is used, and how it operates via individual, social/cultural, and institutional conditions that manufacture and maintain racial inequality within political, social, and economic spheres. Correspondingly, race is treated as a social process rather than simply a variable to control for in a statistical model. In this social process, race operates not only as a point of departure to differentiate individuals and groups but as socially constructed destinations: that is, we all experience an ongoing process of racialization in our daily lives.

Accordingly, CRI has six primary aims:

  • Form a collective wisdom about critical race theory and its analytic focus
  • Shift the discourse past the Black/White narrative to highlight processes and mechanisms of racial inequality that affect all racial/ethnic minorities
  • Focus on race as a set of experiences, racialized identities, and social processes that are mutually facilitated by individual, social/cultural, and institutional conditions
  • Transform victimization into empowerment
  • Foster racial uplift activism through scholarship, teaching, community-based participatory research, and social policy
  • Draw upon core strengths of faculty and students in the Department of Sociology, BSOS, and UMD

2nd Annual Parren Mitchell Symposium

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