Thursday, September 11, 2014
As one of the few African-Americans in her law school class, Paulette Brown noticed career counselors steering her and other black students toward legal service or public defender jobs assisting the poor, instead of more prestigious jobs in big law firms. But she refused to go down that path, eventually serving as in-house counsel for several Fortune 500 companies.
Since those law school days, Brown, a partner in the Boston law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, has fought against subtle racism, discrimination, and small slights known as “micro-inequities.” For much of her career, she has pressed firms to hire and promote more women and minorities; mentored hundreds of lawyers, mostly women of color; and trained many others on diversity in the workplace.Now Brown, 63, has a platform to expand her mission even further. Last month, she became the first black woman elected to lead the 400,000-member American Bar Association, which, until 1943, did not allow African-Americans to join.
In a profession where only 7 percent of partners are people of color and the number of female associates has fallen for the past five years, Brown is focused, among other things, on raising awareness about implicit bias in law offices, the legal system, and American society.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
I received a request from Prof. Charlotte Garden at Seattle to post about the upcoming Lat Crit-SALT conference, which I am happy to do.
Twelfth Annual LatCrit-SALT Call for Participation Junior Faculty Development Workshop October 9, 2014 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV
LatCrit, Inc. and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) are pleased to invite interested participants to the Twelfth Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), immediately preceding the SALT Teaching Conference. This annual workshop is designed for critical, progressive, and social justice oriented pre-tenure professors, including clinicians and legal writing professors, as well as those who may be contemplating a teaching career. However, we also encourage more senior members of the profession to attend, share their experience, and serve as resources and mentors.
The FDW is designed to familiarize critical, progressive, and social justice oriented junior faculty with LatCrit and SALT principles and values and support them in the scholarship, teaching, and service aspects of professional success. In addition, the FDW seeks to foster scholarship in progressive, social justice, and critical outsider jurisprudence, including LatCrit theory, among new and junior faculty, students, and practitioners. Finally, the FDW aims to cultivate a community of scholars interested in the continuation of this and similar projects over the years.
To facilitate community building through shared experiences and the exchange of ideas, we strongly encourage all participants to attend the entire workshop.
If you have questions about the workshop or would like to attend, please email SALTLatCritFDW@gmail.com. Although we will make efforts to accommodate all interested participants, RSVPs are strongly suggested by September 30, 2014.
Registration for the SALT Biennial Teaching Conference is available at http://www.saltlaw.org/conference_registration/
Saturday, August 9, 2014
LIVING THINKERS: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BLACK WOMEN IN THE IVORY TOWER examines the intersection of race, class and gender for Black women professors and administrators working in U.S. colleges and universities today. Through their diverse narratives, from girlhood to the present, Black women from different disciplines share experiences that have shaped them, including segregated schooling as children, and the trials, disappointments and triumphs encountered in Academia
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
From the NYT, Editorial, Kimberle Crenshaw (Columbia/UCLA), The Girls Obama Forgot
“ANYTHING that makes life harder for women makes life harder for families and makes life harder for children,” President Obama told an approving crowd last month, at a White House summit meeting on working families.
But this seemingly obvious point is not reflected anywhere in the president’s signature initiative on race — My Brother’s Keeper, a five-year, $200 million program that will give mentorships, summer jobs and other support to boys and young men of color, most of them African-American or Hispanic, and that entirely omits the challenges facing their mothers and sisters. At a meeting in Washington last week to announce new commitments to the program from corporations, school systems and nonprofits, Mr. Obama gave a perfunctory shout-out to “all the heroic single moms out there,” but did not utter the word “girls” even once.
Mr. Obama has told us why men of color are his focus. His moving story of the Kenyan father he knew for a month and the Kansan mother who went on to raise a president speaks volumes about his passion. But My Brother’s Keeper highlights one of the most significant contradictions of his efforts to remain a friend to women while navigating the tricky terrain of race. It also amounts to an abandonment of women of color, who have been among his most loyal supporters.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Carmen Gonzalez (Seattle) and Angela Harris (UC Davis) have posted Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia:
Abstract:On March 8, 2013, the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice hosted an all-day symposium featuring more than forty speakers at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law to celebrate and invite responses to the book entitled, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. González & Angela P. Harris eds., 2012). Presumed Incompetent presents gripping first-hand accounts of the obstacles encountered by female faculty of color in the academic workplace, and provides specific recommendations to women of color, allies, and academic leaders on ways to eliminate these barriers. The symposium held at Berkeley continued the conversation begun in the book through a series of concurrent and plenary panels, poetry readings, and keynote addresses. Selected papers from the symposium were published in both the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice (SJSJ). This introduction discusses and contextualizes the papers published in the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice. These papers reflect the exhilarating breadth and depth of the discussions that took place during the symposium. Like the papers published in SJSJ, they enhance our understanding of the hierarchies of the academic workplace, and offer additional tools to promote a more equitable and inclusive campus environment.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Maria Lopez (Loyola, New Orleans) and Kevin Johnson (Davis) have posted Presumed Incompetent: Important Lessons for University Leaders on the Professional Lives of Women Faculty of Color, Berkeley J. Gender, Law & Justice (forthcoming).
Academics have long known that the experiences of women faculty members of color differ in important respects from those of any other faculty members. Adding significantly to that body of knowledge, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia edited by Professors Angela P. Harris and Carmen Gonzalez in a collection of essays of different voices offers important lessons for scholars, university administrators and leaders, faculty members, and, for that matter, students interested in the experiences of women of color in academia. People of good faith who want to “do the right thing” may find it difficult to read the unsettling stories and pleas for empathy, internalize the lessons as based on common occurrences rather than outlier experiences, and consider how to address and redress the issues. Still, we as a collective have the obligation and responsibility to think about what might be done to improve the day-to-day lives of the next generation of women faculty of color.
To that end, this review essay directs attention at one chapter of the volume, which offers invaluable commentary and perspective on the other chapters and provides many lessons for university leaders hoping to make a positive difference. This is terrain where one might expect two minority law school deans (and faculty members) to feel most comfortable. In addition, as people of color with real life experience with these issues, we hope to provide insights that help university leaders to better appreciate, grapple with, and attempt to effectively address the concerns of women faculty of color
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
From her dissent in Tuesday's decision in Schuette v. BAMN, upholding Michigan’s state ban on race-conscious (and gender-conscious) admission decisions. (Citations omitted).
Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process. And although we have made great strides, “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”
Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society—inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities.
And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”
In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
She used to wear a burqa in public, but now has had her face printed on thousands of ballot pamphlets for the provincial council in Wardak. She campaigns in person in a district, Saydabad, that is thick with Taliban.
The woman in question is 28 year-old Mariam Wardak's mother, who is running for public office in Afghanistan. More:
There is finally the sense here, after years of international aid and effort geared toward improving Afghan’s women’s lives, that women have become a significant part of Afghan political life, if not a powerful one.
On the other hand:
But their celebratory moment is also colored by the worry that those gains could so easily be reversed if extremists come back into power, or if Western aid dwindles. Those concerns have added urgency to this campaign season for women who are fighting to make their leadership more acceptable in a still deeply repressive society.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, men apparently have more leisure time than do women.
“In virtually every country, men are able to fit in valuable extra minutes of leisure each day while women spend more time doing unpaid housework,” according to the OECD. But the sharper point was that gender inequality is most stark in India, where the average man spends just 19 minutes a day on “routine housework” and the average woman spends almost five hours on such duties.
Of course, stats must be taken with some qualification and skepticism. Somehow the claim that there is more leisure time for men seems apt for those who can afford not to work. There is this to consider as well:
Millions of Indian men do huge amounts of housework — but in single-man or all-male households. Three years ago, I spent a few weeks in Mumbai interviewing dozens of auto rickshaw drivers for a long essay about their lives. An overwhelming majority of them lived in all-male households, often sharing a single room and cooking for one another. It’s not just them. Millions of poor and lower-middle-class Indian men leave behind their villages and families every year to work in cities as daily wage laborers, construction workers, auto rickshaw or taxi drivers, security guards, fruit or vegetable sellers, waiters or domestics, transferring the small surplus incomes of their city lives into economic security for all of their dependents back in the village.
Such a man runs his own household expertly and sometimes with evident pleasure, shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning at high speed, being ribbed by his mates all the while. On his annual visit back to the village, though, he puts his feet up and doesn’t do even the 20 minutes of routine housework that would make him above average.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Teri McMurtry-Chubb (Mercer), guest blogs today in response to Lisa McElroy (Drexel), Are Legal Writing Professors Like Nurses? Professor McMurty-Chubb serves as a member of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) Board of Trustees, and Chair of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI) Diversity Initiatives Committee.
In the lodestar history of African American female nurses, Black Women In White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950 (Indiana University Press, 1989), Darlene Clark Hine discusses the racism Black nurses encountered in their professionalization as nurses. Hines' work is a sweeping tome that chronicles the hurdles Black nurses faced not only in caring for members of their communities, but also from the white women who shared their profession. Although Hines' work is an historical study, history oft repeats itself. A little over a year ago, in February 2013, an African American female nurse filed a lawsuit against Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan after a new father (white) gave orders to her charge nurse that he did not want any Black nurses caring for his white baby (link to news story here: ). White nurses, however, were welcome. It seems that not all nurses are created equal.
As it is in nursing, so too it is in the academy. A 2002 study in the Chronicle of Higher Education stated that 39% of all full-time professors are women. Of this percentage 8% are African American and Hispanic women. See Black Professors On The Track. Recent works chronicling the experiences of these women, such as the highly praised Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (Utah State University Press, 2012), note that professors of color are isolated in university communities and lack allies in white women who wholeheartedly take up gendered battles, but shy away from those where race and gender collide in the bodies of their sisters of color. Of the 39% of women employed full-time in the academy, just over half are employed as instructors or lecturers. This necessarily means that African American and Hispanic women are represented disproportionately at the lower levels of employment status. A study published in 2003 by Deborah Jones Merritt and Barbara F. Reskin reported that 30.3% of tenure-track positions at law schools were occupied by white women as compared to 7.6% by women of color, New Directions for Women in the Legal Academy, 53 J. Legal Educ. 489 (2003), which brings us back to legal writing.
The experiences of women legal writing professors are not all the same. Women of color law professors who teach legal writing have a deeply textured, multi-layered experience in which privilege, power, and status operate differently than in the lives of white women law professors who teach legal writing. White women in the legal academy must build bridges to us, acknowledge our differences, and address how we can all advance together. If, as female law professors of color who teach legal writing, we are like Black nurses, then our white sisters in the academy must acknowledge their own race privilege as an impediment to our collective progress.
Thursday, September 19, 2013