This essay posits that Critical Race Theory (CRT) must operate at both the "idealist" and "materialist" levels. Although the emphasis may be in one direction or another at particular times, both domains are continually engaged. This essay links the debate between the "materialist" and "idealist" views to another central theme within CRT, which is the need for "justice" and how the law relates to justice. This essay focuses on the contemporary debate surrounding the status of Native Hawaiians to show how "race" is being used to construct the civil and political rights of Native Hawaiian people. CRT is a jurisprudence of possibility precisely because it rejects standard liberal frameworks and precisely because it seeks to be inclusive of different groups and different experiences. As I envision the future of CRT, I want to engage a discussion about "justice" and the relationship of justice to political or racial healing. Thus, this essay seeks to identify the foundation for CRT, as the need to achieve "social justice" for groups that have suffered a history of oppression, and to engage what it means to "heal" injustice which is embedded in society at the level of both structure and consciousness. Part I of the essay explicates the scholarly debate between Professors Delgado and Johnson and offers three general themes which are useful to understand CRT as a vehicle for transformative thought in American jurisprudence. Part II probes the relationship of justice to law, drawing on contemporary work in political theory dealing with transformative political change, and sets the framework for the case study on contemporary Native Hawaiian political and legal rights, which is featured in Part III. In analyzing the case study, this essay examines the historical context within which Native Hawaiian rights are situated, and compares the analysis in the federal court cases that are constructing contemporary Native Hawaiian rights as well as the rights of non-Natives. Finally, Part IV of the essay explores the theme of racial healing and suggests how the idealist and materialist frameworks of thought within CRT might be used to effectuate the necessary change.
Engaging the Spirit of Racial Healing Within Critical Race Theory: An Exercise in TransformativeThought,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol11/iss1/3