Patricia Williams’ seminal text, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1991) chronicles her experience as a female African-American law professor in two recognized institutions in the United States of America. Taking our cue from Williams, and the recently celebrated 20-year anniversary of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) movement, the organizers of the Challenging Conventions! Speakers Series (CCSS) in collaboration with Law.Arts.Culture wish to take a moment to reflect on Canadian experiences.
Professor Williams links her journey to the theoretical construction of the law, and simultaneously edifies the intersectional nature of racialization, class, gender, and sexuality. Two decades later, her narrative as a law professor, albeit a personal one, remains relevant. The static nature of contemporary legal education has created simmering undercurrents around student admission policies, curriculum design, training future lawyers, faculty recruitment and retention. Moreover, legal scholars have transported CRT to numerous legal disciplines and geographic locations, creating a movement to interrogate the orthodox constructs of the law. The articulation of this broad discourse has endogenously created critical frames used by legal scholars, which are continually redefined, augmented and redeployed.
Despite its vast contribution to legal scholarship, CRT as a lens is absent within the contemporary law school curriculum. It is for this very reason, the conveners are compelled to re-ignite interest in CRT and infuse the institutional structure with a new mode of engagement. The symposium will seek to address the definitional contours of CRT, the distinctions between American and Canadian CRT and its pragmatic constraints and challenges. We will inquire into how CRT is used to interrogate the law in modern times, notwithstanding aboriginal, ability/dis-ability, class, feminist, post-colonial and queer influences. Our conversation, therefore, is a starting point and a point of departure to critically engage in self-reflection.