A divisive discourse? Reimagining critical race theory’s power and joy for education research

Opinions and assumptions regarding critical race theory (CRT) abound in the public space today, with discussions to ban CRT in education through legislation taking place across White nation-states. Meanwhile, in education and education research, despite CRT’s contributions to critical scholarship, CRT is sometimes described as “divisive”, “controversial” and “racist”. CRT is accused of being too academic, not academic enough, only applicable in the United States, only usable by Black academics, an attempt at indoctrinating young people, encouraging “identity politics”, “cancel culture” and is described as “political correctness gone mad”. Ladson-Billings (1998) first made the case for CRT’s usefulness as a theoretical approach to education, arguing that “CRT can be a powerful explanatory tool for the sustained inequity that people of colour experience” (p.18) in public education. CRT “extends a broad literature base in law, sociology, history, ethnic studies, and women’s studies” (Solórzano and Yosso, 2002, p. 25). In Critical Race Theory: The key writings that formed the movement, Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller, and Thomas (1995) emphasise that CRT takes an interdisciplinary approach.In this creative symposium/workshop, five education researchers will use storytelling to recentre CRT in education and counter and reimagine CRT’s popular narratives. Each of the researchers will draw on CRT in different settings, from early childhood to adult education. Additionally, a variety of research and pedagogical methodologies will be utilised in the symposium, from storytelling, embodiment, and poetry to demonstrate CRT’s alternative epistemic notions.  Our practices focus on different aspects of race and explore experiences of diverse peoples doing critical race research in varied educational sites. We share an intense appreciation for the transformative power that CRT necessarily and urgently brings to education and education research, and the joy that this work can entail for researchers, educators, and students.The themes covered in this creative session will include:Reimagining critical race theory in higher educationReimagining critical race theory through the eyes of studentsReimagining critical race theory in teacher professional learning using dramatic storytellingReimagining critical race theory through counter-storytelling Muslim youth political subjecthoodsReimagining critical race theory in online education spaces via a poetic Black imaginary