**2021 Conference proposals decisions have been sent**

No longer accepting submissions 


Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA) 

 2021 Theme & Call for Papers

Racial Realism in Real Time: 

(Re)Committing to and (Re)Invigorating Our Struggle for Empowerment through Research, Activism and Praxis


CFP EXTENDED Deadline: May 24, 2021


Conference Host: University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

Pre-Conference Date: October 27, 2021

Conference Dates: October 28-29, 2021


Conference Convening: CRSEA leadership and our Delaware hosts are maintaining communication as the policies and practices of large convenings continue to shift. Our aim is to offer on-site engagement on the University of Delaware campus as well as some virtual components. We will communicate details of conference sessions delivery when we announce acceptances; however, please send an email ([email protected]) if you have questions as you craft your proposals.


It has been almost two years since we last convened on the beautiful campus of the University of Southern California. Much has changed in our world since that meeting, yet much has sadly remained the same. Many of our BIPOC communities have been devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has ravaged our neighborhoods and taken elders, family members and friends from us. Mistrust in government officials and much skepticism about the vaccine remains high among Black and Brown folks, and federal and state leadership has failed miserably in ensuring a safe and equitable rollout of both testing and vaccinations for these communities. As the CDC continues to report, BIPOC persons - especially Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Pacific Islander persons - are dying disproportionately from the virus, and have less access to testing and vaccines. In the face of what Ladson-Billings (2020) has termed the nation’s three pandemics of economic collapse, health catastrophe and racial unrest, it is now time for us to (re)convene for our sake, for our health, and for our healing. 


Since our last convening, we also know that Brown, Indigenous migrant children continue to be separated from their families. Many if not most of them will never be reunited with their families. The vicious nature of this policy remains unchecked and its purveyors have not been brought to justice. Throughout our time apart, Indigenous leaders and allies, the water protectors, and scholars and activists have continued to advocate for their sovereign rights, to an end to violence against Native women, and to provide for the basic infrastructure to reservations that is already afforded to non-Tribal land communities. Over the past year Trump has relentlessly engaged in racist scapegoating via terms such as “China virus” and “kung flu” to deflect from the White House’s failed efforts to contain the pandemic.  These blatant attacks by Trump and his allies have fueled an exceptional increase in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence against Asian Americans nationwide, including the recent multiple murders in the Atlanta area. Last September, the White House administration banned the use of “race-based ideologies” as they sought to cleanse the federal government of any questioning of the so-called exceptionalism of U.S. history, laws and values. The administration sought to in effect ban CRT.  And finally, since our last meeting we have also participated and witnessed community led uprisings in the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders. Organized resistance throughout the summer and into the fall of 2020, ensured that a record turnout of the electorate came out to vote in an historic election. As a country, while fighting for the humanity of Black people unjustly killed by law enforcement, we withstood efforts to undermine the election process. Its citizens witnessed a violent insurrection in the U.S. Capitol carried out by an angry White supremacist mob, which was aided by elected officials in the highest offices including the presidency. We viewed health disparities, separation of families, continued struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism, armed insurrection, and listened to every justification for the maintenance of White supremacy, all in real time. 


Leaning into the work of Derrick Bell (1992a), we aim to build on his conceptualizing of Racial Realism almost thirty years ago, “This new movement is appropriately called Racial Realism, and it is a legal and social mechanism on which blacks can rely to have their voice and outrage heard” (p. 364).  Bell focused on racial realism during a particularly challenging period later in his life, when Bell’s appeal to Harvard Law School was denied and his tenure was terminated in 1992 after a two-year unpaid leave of absence from 1990-1992 in protest of the school’s failure in its 150-year history to hire a woman of color in a tenured or tenure-track position (Harris, 1993).  According to Bell, racial realism rejects legal formalism which exclusively centers on traditional anti-discrimination measures of racial justice, because this vision for racial equality will be continually frustrusted by forms of racial discrimination that adapt to each new prohibition on discrimination (Bell, 1992b).  Bell outlines the tenets of racial realism as follows: there has been "no linear progress in civil rights," but rather a pattern of “cyclical progress and cyclical regression”; goals must include an increased focus on economics; fulfillment is possible through struggle, despite lack of progress; an insistence on “justice and truth,” which requires that “we shed reactionary attachments to myths that derive their destructive and legitimating power from our belief in them” (Bell, 1992b, pp 98-99; also see Harris, 1993). 


With this call we urge our CRSEA community to honor the roots of this movement. Although we are living with and through this tumultuous time, we are also resisting, organizing, and disrupting the systems, organizations, policies and institutions that are not designed for BIPOC empowerment. It is from this place that we release this Call for Papers and seek to (re)convene and (re)connect with our community of Critical Race scholars.

 Our conference theme, Racial Realism in Real Time: (Re)Committing to and (Re)Invigorating Our Struggle for Empowerment through Research, Activism and Praxisstrives to stimulate an intellectual, political, activist, and liberatory space, where researchers, activists, educators, youth leaders, community members are encouraged to propose and present their works in order to (re)energize and (re)invigorate our community.

 Proposals should address one of the following relevant themes below: 

Imperialism and Colonialism and its Impact on K -12 Youth. Governmental policies and educational policies that are intimately linked around the problematic goal of assimilation.

Youth Resistance and Radicalism (P-20): Relevant submissions include discussion, analysis/research centering the experiential knowledge and voices of youth of color, advancing knowledge of pedagogies of resistance/organizing amongst, and in relation to youth of color in schools, communities, etc.

Community Driven Politics: Relevant submissions include grassroots organizing and political education in various forms.

Spatial Geography’s role in racial realism: Relevant submissions include analysis/research highlighting the various manifestations of racism/white supremacy functioning in different geographical places and spaces; specifically, the consideration of connections amongst a myriad of topics/movements (e.g. coalitions amongst groups such as Black Lives Matter and Indigenous peoples; recent Black-Asian solidarity organizing happening in Oakland, CA and elsewhere).

Identity and/or Respectability Politics: Relevant submissions include analysis/research that centers Testimonios and Storytelling from a myriad of disciplines/fields and their connection to, and influence on political and/or educational discourse and praxis from various positionalities shaping politics and education.

Political Economies of Higher Education: Relevant submissions include a discussion/analysis of the manifestations, intersections, and nuances of Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, Language, Ability, Citizenship, etc. within institutions of higher education.

Transformational PoliticsRelevant submissions include a discussion/analysis of Teacher Pedagogy and Praxis; interdisciplinary and discipline specific proposals welcomed.

Technical Quality: The ideas addressing theory, practices, and/or methods in critical race studies are clear.

Analysis: The proposal clearly demonstrates the author is centering race as the primary mode of analysis, with key principles, concepts and methods connected to critical theories of race, including, but not limited to critical race theory. There are clear linkages between the information and the question/topic under consideration.

Innovativeness and Impact: Proposal submitted has the potential to introduce and/or promote the development of new ideas, practices, methods, praxis and/or the acquisition of new skills and knowledge for conference attendees.


Bell, D. (1992a). Racial Realism. Connecticut Law Review, 24(2), 363-379.

Bell, D. (1992b). “Divining a Racial Realism Theory,” in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (pp 89-108). Basic Books.

Harris, C. (1993). Bell's Blues. The University of Chicago Law Review, 60(2), 783-793.

Ladson-Billings, G. (August, 2020). Interview with Instruction Partners. Available at: https://instructionpartners.org/2020/08/07/dr-gloria-ladson-billings/


For More Information, contact:

CRSEA Executive Board 

[email protected]