University of Chicago Eyes the Creation of a Critical Race Studies Department

University of Chicago Eyes the Creation of a Critical Race Studies Department
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite


A new department may soon be coming to Chicago.

The city’s eponymous university is currently considering the creation of a Department of Critical Race Studies.

For the uninitiated, here’s the the Encyclopedia Britannica’s, 411 on CRT:

Critical race theory (CRT), the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of [nonwhites]. According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labour markets and politics, giving rise to poverty and criminality in many minority communities. The CRT movement officially organized itself in 1989, at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory, though its intellectual origins go back much further, to the 1960s and ’70s.

In the windy city, revolution’s blowin’ on the breeze.

Hence, in an email to The College Fix in December, school spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan suggested an easy swing:

“Should this proposal be approved through University processes, Provost [Ka Yee] Lee will work with the relevant division to ensure that resources are provided for its support. She recognizes the commitment of many faculty members at the University to ensuring that the study of race continues to thrive here.”

But, per the Fix, a few hurdles have to be cleared:

The proposal has to win approval from the “faculty council,” according to the campus paper The Chicago Maroon. The paper presumably is referring to the University Senate. The senate meets again on January 26. The provost cannot unilaterally provide funding to a department.

If the proposal passes, it merely means the college will study the department’s development. Yet another measure would be required to actually create it ahead of next school year.

The university’s evolution began with a group calling itself #MoreThanDiversity, which enacted a campaign following the death of George Floyd.

In June, it issued edicts.


Our Demands.
I. Increased Support for and Autonomy of the CSRPC
II. Formation of Department of Critical Race Studies
III. Faculty Governance of Diversity and Inclusion
IV. University Policing
V. Reparations at UChicago

CSRPC: Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture

About the Department:

The University of Chicago stands alone among our peer institutions in lacking a Department through which scholars working centrally on race may be hired and students systematically trained. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, and UCLA all have Departments of African American Studies. Brown and Penn have Departments of Africana Studies while Columbia’s is entitled African American and African Diaspora Studies. Previous University of Chicago Provosts have actively discouraged the formation of such a Department here. This absence is particularly egregious in a university that prides itself on continuously questioning and challenging knowledge formations and their institutional groundings.

To be clear, University of Chicago students may already major in critical race and ethnic studies.

As for Point #5 — Reparations at UChicago — activists pointed out the following:

[W]e need not go back to slavery and the nineteenth century to identify the ways the university has directly participated in and benefited from racial domination. The University’s active role in maintaining and supporting racial restrictive covenants and urban renewal policies that kept out Black residents in the 20th century must also be acknowledged.

More mandates were made…

We demand:

An immediate acknowledgement of the University of Chicago’s debt to the enslaved people who toiled on the Douglas plantations in Lawrence County and Washington County, Mississippi.

The establishment of a truth and justice committee to further investigate and determine appropriate reparations for the University’s connections to slavery, Jim Crow, and other ongoing forms of racial exploitation, exclusion, and discrimination. Said committee should be directed by community organizations from the South Side of Chicago. Its members would be selected by CSRPC in collaboration with allied organizations and institutions on and off campus. This committee would be named by October 1, 2020.

Race and education are constituting quite the combo as of late.

Just a few examples from the last seven weeks or so:

College Admission Service Condemns ‘Stark Differences’ Between the Treatment of White Insurrectionists and Black Protestors

Public School District Offers Free ‘Antiracist Therapy’ for White Teachers

Seattle Tells Its White Teachers to ‘Bankrupt’ Their Privilege and Acknowledge Their ‘Thieved Inheritance’

Cornell Requires Its Students to Get Vaccinated – but Not if They’re Not White

‘You Are Racist’: Images Pop Up Online Revealing San Diego’s White Privilege Wringing of Teachers

Megyn Kelly Pulls Her Kids From School Over Woke Letter Comparing White Kids to Killer Cops

#MoreThanDiversity may see the university as behind the times, but I’d say they’re leading the pack.

Amid our explosion of enlightenment, stay tuned for Race Theory to reach Critical mass.



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