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Critical race theory (CRT) is a school of legal thought that focuses on the intersection between race and the law—how each shapes and is shaped by the other. It emerged in the late 1980s as an outgrowth of the engagement of legal scholars of color with the critical legal studies (CLS) movement. Critical race theorists generally agree with scholars in CLS that the law is not neutral, objective, or determinate and that it functions to “legitimize social power in the United States”; however, CRT departs from CLS in emphasizing that race and racism function “as central pillars of hegemonic power” (Crenshaw et al. 1995: xxii). As such, while CRT shares many features with CLS, such as its left-leaning ideological tendency, it defines itself in contradistinction ...

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