Mari Matsuda (born in 1956) is a law professor, legal activist, and leading proponent of Critical Race Theory. She currently teaches at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. She is the first tenured female Asian American law professor in the US (when she taught at UCLA). She has a B.A from Arizona State University, a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, and an L.L.M. from Harvard.
As a proponent of CRT, her thesis is that the current power and wealth of white Americans has all come illegitimately by way of oppressing all people of color for the past 400 years. As an American of Asian ancestry, she consistently points out racism and oppression against Asians on this continent.
Although there have been many cases of racism against Asians (most notably FDR’s unjust and illegal internment of Japanese-Americans), it is a point worth noting that today Asian Americans have the highest median income of $98,174 per year. Median income of white Americans is $74,057. (All races in America have been enjoying increases in average income every year from 2013-2019, by the way.) With her success in obtaining college degrees, tenured teaching positions at world-famous universities, and her successful law/writing/art career, maybe Ms.Matsuda is not as oppressed as the people for which she “agitates.”
Here are a few Matsuda quotes, taken from an interview by Contemporary Magazine in April of 2017:
“Critical Race Theorists came to understand law as an ideological support system for inequalities of all kinds… Understanding how law worked as an ideological system, what lies it told, how the lies seduced, how they were resisted, was our work.”
“In our book, ‘Words That Wound’, my critical race theorist co-authors and I pointed out that the greatest threat to freedom of expression is inequality. Who gets to speak on what stage to what audience with what authority and what consequence are all functions of power. The history of native extermination, chattel slavery, povrims, night rides, lynchings, are all the background facts critical race theorists start from in analyzing a bit of speech offered up as ‘free’ in the marketplace of ideas.”
“Critical Race Theory emerged from a tiny corner of legal theory called the critique of the critique of rights. We were trying to hold on to a contradiction: telling people they ‘have rights’ when any random state of exception snatches rights away in an instant is just participation in mental slavery. AND rights claims have moral power. They have narrative power. They have visioning power. Oppressed people have used rights claims and longed for rights and been willing to die for rights. Their struggle tells me there is something to this form of thinking that has real value. I’ve written a bunch of words about this, but the theory is not my creation–it comes out of struggle.”