"Critical race theory was invented for cases like this, for the law." - Dr. Dyson, putting the Derek Chauvin sentencing in historical and moral perspective.
June 27, 2021

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson laid down the raw truth about why critical race theory is so necessary, doing so within the legal framework of Derek Chauvin's sentencing on Friday for the murder of George Floyd.

Noting that all of George Floyd's family members have "almost an intuitive activism in them," Nicolle Wallace shined a light on their coupling personal pain with a deeply moving expression of gratitude for the activists who have flooded the streets in the wake of Floyd's murder. She said, "Every one of them thanked the activists, and called on them to press for passage of the George Floyd Police Reform act."

In response, Dr. Dyson expounded on why Black people are "great at performance" and activism, not because they want to be, but because they have to be. "The reason there is an intuitive grasp of activism is because it has been forced upon us. It has been hoisted upon us. We have been forced to grapple with what it means to be an activist," he said. "We didn't start out to be that way. Tamir Rice's mama didn't want to do that. George Floyd's family didn't want to do that. But they were forced into that position. Foisted upon them by historical contingency, by circumstance."

Dr. Dyson then placed Chuck Rosenberg's assessment of Chauvin's 22.5-year sentence in legal and moral perspective. "When I think about what our good brother Rosenberg just said, you know,I think he's absolutely right in terms of judicial description of what the judge did. But could we not say the same thing for Plessy v. Ferguson?" he asked. "Many of the rulings that were in defense of racism in this country were reasonable, they were rational. They were legally defensible, and yet they were morally reprehensible."

He didn't believe the Chauvin sentence fell into that category, but he used it to explain why...wait for it...critical race theory is absolutely necessary and sorely lacking.

"I'm not suggesting by any means that this falls into that category, but just when you need critical race theory is when you don't have it. Critical race theory was invented for cases like this, for the law," he insisted. "It is saying that despite the ostensible neutrality and objectivity of the justice system, that even interwoven into the very character of rational deliberation, is the imprint of bigotry and bias and slanting toward one end and not the other, even by using objective and neutral means."

This is why the Floyd family, he explained, along with so many Black people, have activism in their bones. This is why they're pushing so hard for change via legislation and the courts. "Legal decisions will be crafted and shaped by careful men like this judge, by careful women, by careful others."

Dr. Dyson left us with a harrowing and weighty charge.

"[W]e must never forget, It's not so much the time that Derek Chauvin got, it's the time that Black people lose in the process of trying to remind America that we're worthy of the best and the brightest of legal minds, and the best and the brightest of American democracy. That we shouldn't have to fight for every inch of our lives and every day. So, those family members are remarkable reminders of the simple valor of ordinary Black people in defense of ideas that this nation claims to cherish, but often denies when extending to us."

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