An outgrowth of the European Marxist school of critical theory, critical race theory is an academic movement which seeks to link racism, race, and power. Unlike the Civil Rights movement, which sought to work within the structures of American democracy, critical race theorists challenge the very foundations of the liberal order, such as rationalism, constitutional law, and legal reasoning. Critical race theorists argue that American social life, political structures, and economic systems are founded upon race, which (in their view) is a social construct.
Systemic racism, in the eyes of critical race theorists, stems from the dominance of race in American life. Critical race theorists and anti-racist advocates argue that, because race is a predominant part of American life, racism itself has become internalized into the American conscious. It is because of this, they argue, that there have been significantly different legal and economic outcomes between different racial groups. (Criticalrace.org)