In my previous article I proposed the idea of Complex Priority Identity Theory as an opposing to the individualization of Critical Race Theory (CRT). This does not deny systemic racism per se; however, when CRT is individualized, it has negative effects on individuals which further complicates cross-cultural relationships. Complex Priority Identity Theory (CPIT) is an individualized theory which can in reverse affect systems. So while CRT focuses on the system then effects the individual, CPIT does the reverse.
Complex Priority Identity Theory claims that an individual has multiple identities (hence complex): vocation, gender, sex, sexuality, age, financial status, ethnicity, place of origin, disability, marital status, and religion (of course there is an infinite amount more). The morality and validity of their chosen identity is irrelevant to the theory. The idea is that how one prioritizes, or orders, their identities effects their volition (choices), cognition (beliefs), and affections (emotions/desires). This is not a strict one-way catalyst. Of course,it works in reverse as well. One’s beliefs and desires also effects how they prioritize their identities. This cyclical catalyst mainly outputs behavior.
Let’s look at a case study. If you wander around on YouTube enough, you might stumble upon a person who identifies as a baby. Now, this identity is what he prioritizes above his vocation, above his relationship with his girlfriend, above his identity of being “potty trained.” Now, this identity does not correspond to reality (which might matter to your theory of epistemology, but does not matter to CPIT). What’s especially interesting is that this identity is only when he desires to have it. Sometimes he speaks normally, acts normally (as corresponding to his identity of adult), but at other times he acts and desires like a baby (of 18 months). Whichever identity he prioritizes at any moment effects his desires, beliefs, and behavior.
This is again why the term complex is so central. Not only do individuals have multiple identities, they also can prioritize identities differently based on their stimuli whether internal or external. If an individual prioritizes their ethnicity, they will act, desire, and believe in ways that benefits their ethnicity (and possibly puts down other ethnicity). So, a white man who prioritizes his ethnicity may go to a family reunion, or he may join a neo-nazi cult. Now, obviously, there’s a vast chasm between going to a reunion and joining a white supremacy cult. What would be the determining factor according to CPIT? What other identities ethnicity is prioritized over. If someone prioritizes their ethnic identity over their identity of being human, they will treat other ethnicity as less than human.
What would be the determining factor or racism according to CRT? Not fighting against systemic racism. This is what makes individual racism so insidious in Critical Race Theory. All people are guilty of racism of they don’t fight against systemic racism, even if they are ignorant of it. In Christianity, all people are guilty of sin and rebelling against God, whether they are ignorant to the fact or not. However, Christian dogma teaches that all creation attests to the reality of God, and mankind actively suppresses the truth to remain under condemnation. Christianity also teaches there is a loving, holy, all-powerful God who saves not based on man’s knowledge, or merit, but based on his grace. This is not so with Critical Race Theory. The only way to remove to condemnation of racism is by knowledge and works.
This is what makes Complex Prioritized Identity Theory so important. People who know their ethnic identity, absolutely deny their ethnicity is more important than other identities, and recognize beauty of every ethnicity (that is, not “colorblind”), are being labeled racist only because a lack of knowledge and works. Critical Race Theory is a Gnostic, work-based religion by which the only way an individual can be saved from the condemnation of society is by gaining a certain amount of knowledge (becoming “woke”) and using that knowledge to fight against systemic racism (via social justice).
A woke individual now has a new set of identities: oppressed and hegemony. These identities are not autonomous (unless they do not correspond to reality which is too taboo to occur at this moment), but determined by society. A person with a non-majority identity in America can then add the identity of “oppressed” (thus becoming “woke”). Then, when that identity of being oppressed is prioritized over being human, American, middle class, male, Christian, or whatever else, it then affects behavior and desires. An oppressed person desires to not to be oppressed. An oppressed person will take actions (with their identity of oppression prioritized higher than all other identities) to no longer be oppressed. For example, they might call non-woke individuals racists without even knowing it, demand reparations, philosophize or theologize in different ways (making sure it’s not part of the hegemony). This prioritized identity of oppression affects an individuals beliefs in worldview. They will believe differently about where they came from, what the main problem of the world is, how to solve it, and where they’re headed. The oppression identity prioritized affects all desires, beliefs, and actions with the ultimate outcome of oppressing the hegemony.
This leads to the real question, though, what about Christians who are oppressed. Christianity was birthed in oppression, Marxism merely adapted to it (to allude to Bane; also Marxism adapted to it with cultural Marxism). Christians, however, prioritized their identity in Christ over their identity of oppression. They counted themselves worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. Ignatius of Antioch (c. A.D. 30-107) faced with a torturous death in ancient Rome said, “When I suffer, I shall be free in Jesus Christ, and with him shall rise again in freedom…I am God’s wheat, to be ground by the teeth of beasts, so that I may be offered as pure bread of Christ.” The Christian does not believe in eternal oppression to be remedied earthly, but that oppression here on earth is real, but temporary. Jesus blesses the meek who seek to exalt Him while being oppressed. Jesus curses the prideful who seek to exalt self while being oppressed.
This is why Critical Race Theory is so dangerous to the church. It’s not dangerous because it denies colorblindness (of which I also disagree with). It’s not dangerous because it claims there is systemic racism (of which I agree systemic racism exists). It is dangerous because it calls people who are Christians to exalt their ethnic identity over their identity in Christ thus boasting in something other than God. Anything that tells a Christian to prioritize some other identity over their identity in Christ is idolatrous.
- I wanted to add an endnote to explain the parenthetical statement. In America today, the hegemony is mainly a white male. If a white male in America identified as part of the oppressed (under CRT) this man would be quickly condemned. In the same way, if a black, lesbian, transman identified as being a part of the hegemony in America, this would also not cohere with CRT’s reality, would be quickly labeled as taboo, and others would quickly dismiss their personal epistomological theories and began to oppose their truths on that individual.