Thursday, July 20, 2017

Can We FINALLY Stop Saying that Black People Don’t Value Education?


Little rock nine e eckford

Caption:  Elizabeth Eckford braves a crowd to enter Little Rock Central High.  Source: NPR.


Last week, the Pew Research Center released survey results wherein a majority of Republicans polled – 58 percent – indicated that colleges and universities have a negative effect on our nation.    

In 2017, college – the place where people literally go to learn things – is a bad thing in the Republican mind.  Since 86 percent of Republicans are white, apparently, a solid number of white folks do not value higher education.    

This survey provides further proof that the “acting white” theory promoted by Black and white conservatives should be forever discredited and abandoned.  

For the uninformed, the “acting white” theory operates as follows:  Low-achieving Black youth taunt their more academically gifted peers by accusing them of “acting white.”  As a result, the intelligent youth fail to achieve academic success. 

If this sounds suspicious to you, it should.  The theory has never been proven in any meaningful way.  (See Dr. Ivory Toldson’s epic takedown of the theory here.)  Yet, the myth of “acting white” endures.

The persistence of this myth is problematic for many reasons, but I’ll focus on three.

First, the “acting white” myth perpetuates a most insidious form of white supremacy.  In this myth, white folks are uniformly good, smart, and hard-working – so much so that Black folks envy their superior intellect and industriousness.  This knowledge motivates the jealous Black children to tear down their smart peers for “acting white” because, after all, the children know that to be Black is to be ignorant.   

So, whenever someone deploys the “acting white” theory, what they are really saying – implicitly or explicitly - is that if Black kids embrace whiteness and its positive attributes, they will succeed.  Conversely, their Blackness – and the laziness, stupidity, and inferiority that comes with it – must be avoided or discarded altogether.

Although it goes without saying, I’ll say it:  These assumptions are incredibly racist.  White people do not have a monopoly on intelligence or hard work.  Any theory that is so deeply rooted in false assumptions about white superiority must be rejected. 

Second, the “acting white” theory is not rooted in facts.

Contrary to what “acting white” advocates say, Black youth have positive attitudes about education.  In his analysis of data on student attitudes, Dr. Toldson found that Black males were the most likely to consider high-achieving students “cool.”  Moreover, 95 percent of Black girls said that they would be proud to tell their friends about their academic achievements – the highest percentage of any group.  Black girls were the least likely to avoid telling friends about academic triumphs; white males were the most likely to do so.  Finally, Black females were twice as likely as white males to report that their friends would support their choice to study even if it meant delaying plans to have fun. 

Black people are not anti-intellectual.  Black people are more likely to read than whites.  Compared to whites, Black parents are twice as likely to believe that college is extremely important for their children’s futures.  The number of Black and Latino students earning bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees has been steadily increasing for the past forty years. 

Clearly, the data paint a far different picture than that put forward by the “acting white” mythologists. 

Finally, “acting white” theory diverts our attention from the real cause of Black students’ academic woes – racism.  “Acting white” didn’t keep children of color in segregated classrooms until 1954. “Acting white” didn’t make white folks fight bussing in the North or close public schools in the South.  “Acting white” didn’t create racially exclusive private schools as alternatives to integrated public schools.  “Acting white” didn’t make Republican politicians cut public school funding to the bone.  “Acting white” didn’t cause the poverty that creates the problems that students bring into the classroom. 

The “Acting white” myth, like a good NBA point guard, misdirects our attention while the real target – racism - remains untouched.  

Black youth don’t need to change their attitudes toward education – but society does.  When asked about barriers to attending college, Black students did not cite a fear of “acting white,” but did indicate financial concerns.  Rather than blaming Black children for failing to escape a system rigged against them, we would do better to change the system.  We need a structure that provides meaningful and affordable educational opportunities for all children.  Until that system is in place, I encourage conservatives to stop fabricating myths that keep us from solving the very real problems caused by racism.   

July 20, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why I am not “Asian” and Other Reflections on Asian American Identities

The experiences of Asian Americans in the legal world are gaining attention—a long overdue development.  This week, Yale Law School published a comprehensive report entitled “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law.” The report covers a variety of issues—Asian Americans’ experiences in law schools, clerkships, law firms, government, judgeships, and legal academia, along with the various obstacles that we face.  Shortly after the Yale report was released, the Washington Post published an article on this topic, drawing from the report. 

Just last month, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) also published a report focusing on the experiences of Asian and Asian American law students—especially diversity among these students.  I was invited by LSSSE Director Aaron Taylor to write the Foreword for this report.  LSSSE wanted to address the proper terminology to refer to various Asian American groups, and my Foreword discussed that issue.  Drawing from my discussion with Aaron, I noted that racial terminology is inherently problematic, but that it is necessary to discuss race, and that we have to accept imperfect solutions.  Nevertheless, I do believe that discussing the nuances of this terminology can help rebut stereotypes of Asian Americans and help us understand distinctions within the group.

The Yale report notes that it “use[s] the term ‘Asian American’ and ‘Asian’ in accordance with their usage by cited sources” … but also acknowledges that the terms are not necessarily interchangeable[.]”  I was glad to see the report highlight this tension. Many sources use the terms interchangeably to reduce word counts and avoid repetition.  In one sense, that is understandable.  However, it has long given me pause that people view the terms as synonymous: they often drop the “American” and refer to Asian Americans as just “Asians”—without critical reflection.  The “American” part is really important to many of us.  Throughout our history, Asian Americans have been viewed as perpetual foreigners who can never be “real Americans.”  Simply calling us “Asian” only reinforces that stereotype and erases a core aspect of our identities.  Moreover, lumping different groups together under the rubric of “Asian”—a term that includes 4.5 billion people—obscures far too many differences.

The Yale report also notes that “the term ‘Asian’ may include foreign nationals[.]”  The implication then is that the term “Asian American” may not include such foreign nationals.  My personal view is that anyone who is living in America is “American” regardless of citizenship, nationality, or intent to remain.  I hold this view even more strongly in the context of the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants. 

Additionally, some people prefer the term “Asian Pacific American” so that Pacific Islanders are included.  Others think that Pacific Islanders should be identified separately from Asian Americans.  The U.S. Census Bureau takes this latter position: its racial categories include “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.”  And within Asian American circles, there are distinctions made between South Asian Americans (those descended from the Indian subcontinent), East Asian Americans (those of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean descent), and Southeast Asian Americans (those from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.). 

These distinctions are especially confusing to people outside of our communities.  Often, when I present my research on South Asian American racial ambiguity to academic audiences, a fellow scholar who is not Asian American will come up to me afterwards to talk about my presentation.  Although I used the term “South Asian American” dozens of time during the presentation, the person will say something like “your work on Southeast Asians is really interesting”—despite the fact that I did not use the term “Southeast Asian” at all.  Of course, I realize that this is a perfectly innocent mistake, but it does reflect a general lack of familiarity with Asian Americans, even among some scholars who are interested in race.

I hope those who are unfamiliar with Asian American identities will take the time to learn about these basic distinctions; and also about the salient issues which affect all Asian American communities.  Discourse on race is such a balance between such commonalities and distinctions, and Asian Americans are no different.  I encourage everyone to read the Yale and LSSSE reports and the Washington Post article … and also my articles

Acknowledgement: Thank you to my colleague Shakira Pleasant for her helpful feedback on drafts of this post.

July 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Giving Voice to the Incarcerated

I recently came across a powerful resource that gives voice to those incarcerated in America's massive prison system - The American Prison Writing Initiative.  With all of the news coverage about America's mass incarceration system, this project gives voice to those directly affected by the myriad flaws with the criminal justice system - the prisoners.  As Mari Matsuda's seminal article, Looking to the Bottom, reminds us "those who have experienced discrimination speak with a special voice to which we should listen."

As such, the APWAs goal is:

"to replace speculation on and misrepresentation of prisons and imprisoned people with first-person witness by those on the receiving end of American criminal justice. No single essay can tell us all that we need to know. But a mass-scale, national archive of writing by incarcerated people can begin to strip away widely circulated myths and replace them with some sense of the true human costs of the current legal order. By soliciting, preserving, digitizing and disseminating the work of imprisoned people, we hope to ground national debate on mass incarceration in the lived experience of those who know jails and prisons best. This is the mission of the APWA."

The over 1200 essays by prisoners can be accessed at:


July 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Remembering the Real American Patriots – Black Women




Black woman with flag

Source:  National Archives
Untitled painting of a black woman sewing an American flag, by O, Vereisky, 1964



I have never liked the Fourth of July.  As a child, sparklers and fireworks terrified me.  As I grew older, the more I learned more about America’s complicated history with people that look like me, the less likely I became to wave Old Glory. 

But this year, I had a realization. 

The problem with Fourth of July is not patriotism, but rather that patriotism has been too narrowly defined.  For far too many Americans, patriotism means unquestioning, automatic praise of America.  Criticizing America’s past or present is tantamount to treason. But this need not be the case.  The Oxford English Dictionary says that a patriot is one “who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”  

When most think of America’s enemies, they think of those from foreign lands that would harm Americans.  But we must beware of all enemies, whether foreign or domestic.  A man who advocates a freedom of religion that applies to some, but not all, has surely harmed Americans and done violence to the First Amendment.  A man who has shown nothing but contempt for our cherished freedom of the press is surely no friend to the nation or its constitution.  A man who delights in his refusal to vigorously protect our redwood forests, Gulf stream waters, and beautiful, spacious skies surely cannot love America.  A man who advocates sentencing millions of Americans to ill health – and perhaps even death - by denying them health care is no friend to those Americans.

If you truly love something, you want to protect everyone and everything in it.  A person who is actively working to harm Americans and American institutions can only be considered an enemy to America.  

No one has done more to defend this nation against its greatest domestic enemy in recent memory, Donald Trump, than Black women.

Please do not misunderstand.  Black women are not the only patriots in America right now.  There are Black men, white women, Latinos, Arabs, Asians, and many others who are standing against Trump.  However, as a group, Black women have been the most vigorous in their opposition and need to be recognized for this loyalty to their country. 

Black women did everything possible to stop Trump from taking office.  A staggering ninety-four percent of Black women voted for Hillary Clinton.  By contrast, sixty-two percent of white men voted for a man who ran a horribly racist campaign and promised to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.

Exit poll pic




One could argue that some GOP voters mistakenly believed that Trump was simply making brash campaign promises.   But now, almost six months in, we can clearly see the damage Trump is doing at home and abroad.  Despite this knowledge, post election,  58 percent of white men continue to support him.  Meanwhile, just 14 percent of Black women approved, the lowest of any group in the survey.    

Nbc approval ratings pic


Source: news


Really, which group loves Americans more?

It’s ironic that Trump supporters claim to love America, but praise a man actively working to harm large groups of Americans.  It seems, then, that Trump voters only love parts of America.  But Black women have shown a more expansive love.  We love America even though, after enduring centuries of both racism of sexism, we likely have more reason to hate America than any other group.  We endured the same chattel slavery, Klan violence, and Jim Crow segregation as Black men while suffering the same gender indignities as white women.  Yet, we continue to do what is best for America.  Like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and many less famous women, we show America her flaws and even help her to fix them.  We continue to lift her up, push her forward, and help her be a better version of herself even when we are rebuked at every turn. 

If that isn’t patriotism, I don’t know what is.

If all Americans adopted the expansive vision of patriotism adopted by Black women and their allies, we would have a government that cared for children, women, the poor, the elderly, the LGBT community, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and all other non-male, non-straight, non-WASP segments of our nation instead of a government devoted to inventing new ways to exclude and dismiss their fellow Americans.    

In short, the view of patriotism adopted by Black women would move us ever closer to achieving the goal of a nation with liberty and justice for all. 

Next year, I think I’ll buy a pack of sparklers.

July 11, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Race, Gender, and Age Discrimination Among Attorneys

A recent article in the Social Science Quarterly, entitled Intersecting Disadvantages: Race, Gender, and Age Discrimination Among Attorneys, conducts a "systematic study that takes an 'intersectional' approach to understanding how attorneys experience discrimination by their professional peers." 

Professors Todd Collins, Tao Dumas, and Laura Moyers "analyze original survey data from over 2,000 practicing attorneys to investigate whether women of color are more likely than other race-gender cohorts to perceive that they are treated unfairly by other attorneys, and what impact such perceptions may have on their satisfaction with their careers." 

The article finds that "minority women are more likely than others to perceive unfair treatment based on race, gender, and age. This also contributes to lower career satisfaction for attorneys who are women of color than for other groups."

The authors proffer that "the findings have important implications for understanding attorney relationships and potential barriers for minority groups within a profession’s culture. These obstacles not only impact attorneys, but could also influence attorney choice for citizens and the prospects for a representative judiciary."

The full article is available at Download Collins_et_al-2017-Social_Science_Quarterly


July 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 3, 2017

CFP: Is it Time for Truth & Reconciliation in Post-Ferguson America?

Call for Papers

"Is It Time for Truth & Reconciliation in Post-Ferguson America?"

Sponsored by Michigan State University College of Law

Ever since Europeans first settled the continent over four hundred years ago, racial injustice has existed in North America.  Human bondage was formally recognized in the United States for nearly a century following the Nation's birth in 1776.   While the Thirteenth Amendment officially abolished slavery in 1865 and the Fourteenth Amendment mandated equal protection in 1868, nearly another century passed before "separate but equal" was repudiated and some progress was made.  Today we still see persistent racial inequities throughout American society.   The criminal justice/prison complex disproportionately targets, captures and incarcerates persons of color; and police shootings of unarmed black victims - such as of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in Aug. 2014 - are grimly commonplace.  It is difficult to deny, in light of this history, that America has a major problem of race. What can be done?   Truth and Reconciliation is a process that has been used effectively in other nations and cultures (e.g., South Africa; native nations) following times of deep racial discord/violence.    The idea is that true healing can begin only when past atrocities and injustices are first acknowledged and addressed.

The Symposium Committee, in conjunction with the University's administration, seeks to convene leading activists, scholars, policymakers, and thought-makers for 1-2 days of discussions and conversations on the topic of the Nation's responsibility to account for the history of racial injustice in America.  Selected submissions will be presented at the Law Review Symposium in March 2018, and published in a special symposium issue of Michigan State Law Review.

To be considered, please send an abstract (300 – 500 words) outlining your proposed paper to Professor Catherine Grosso at and Marie Gordon at by August 15, 2017.   Don’t hesitate to contact us if more information would be helpful. 

Faculty Co-Sponsors:  Tiffani Darden; Matthew Fletcher (Director of Indigenous Law & Policy Center); Kate Fort (Director of Indian Law Clinic); Brian Gilmore (Director of the Housing Clinic); Catherine Grosso; Michael Lawrence (Foster Swift Professor of Constitutional Law); Barbara O'Brien (Editor, National Registry of Exonerations); Wenona Singel (Assoc. Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center)



July 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Racism in the Credit Card Industry

A new article by Professor Andrea Freeman examines how credit card companies exploit the economic necessity of owning a credit card to engage in discriminatory and predatory practices against Black and Latino customers. 

The following is a summary of the article:

“In a social and financial climate characterized by deep racial and socioeconomic divide, racism against credit card applicants and consumers is a core piece of the systemic inequality that perpetuates dramatic disparities in wealth, employment, health, and education. Over several decades, credit cards have evolved into an essential tool for lower- and middle-class families to maintain financial stability through strategic balancing between debt and disposable income. Now, without a credit card, many households cannot manage to meet the basic needs of their families. Credit card companies take advantage of this reality, imposing exploitative fees, interest rates, and other conditions on consumers who have no choice but to use the companies’ products. Even worse, the companies do so in a racially discriminatory way, burdening Black and Latino customers with the worst credit card terms, often unrelated to credit risk. This type of consumer racism dates back to the Reconstruction era and reflects an unbroken chain of laws and policies cementing racial economic inequality. Social norms and stereotypes make the resulting inequality appear cultural and personal instead of systemic and structural. 

This Article is the first to apply a critical race theory analysis to the problem of racism against credit card consumers. After describing the role that history and stereotyping play in allowing credit card corporations to discriminate against consumers, it identifies fatal flaws in the two laws designed to address racial discrimination and inequality in credit, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Community Reinvestment Act. It then proposes amendments to the Consumer Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act based on rehabilitative reparations theory and slavery disclosure laws that would require credit card companies to make significant investments into the communities they harm.

The full article can be downloaded here.


June 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Stop Blaming “Fatherlessness” for Destroying the Black Community

Black dad and baby

Image credit - Shutterstock via Think Progress

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the special men in our lives who furnish us with bad jokes and good advice.  But in the Black community, Father’s Day has become a time fret about the impact that fatherlessness is having on our community. 

I am so tired of people – and by people, I mean Black conservatives, White conservatives, well-meaning White liberals, “concerned” Black men, and anyone else – blaming fatherlessness for all that is wrong in the Black community. 

The fatherlessness narrative isn’t fully rooted in reality.  It is true that just over seventy percent of African American children are born to unmarried parents.  However, when cohabitating parents, stepfathers, and other living arrangements are considered, the number of Black children living without a father drops to about fifty percent.  While this number may seem high, non-custodial Black fathers spend more time with their children than fathers of other races.   So, the number of Black children who are truly fatherless is much lower than reported. 

The fatherlessness argument also ignores the Black family structure.  Traditionally, our families have been intergenerational and have leaned on one another for support.  If a child is truly fatherless, it is likely that there is a grandfather, uncle, or cousin willing to provide care and support.  The absence of a father does not necessarily mean a complete absence of male guidance. 

The fatherlessness argument is also a subtle way to blame Black women for the plight of the Black community.  This may seem counterintuitive, but it is a short jump from “there are no fathers” to “these women are failing at raising our youth.”  Even more troubling, the not-so-subtle implication of the fatherlessness argument is that if Black men somehow returned to their “rightful” place in the family, the problems facing the Black community would immediately disappear.  This logic is extremely insulting to Black women.  Black women have been the backbone of our race for centuries.  Though we rarely get credit for it, we have been at the forefront of every movement to uplift our race from abolition to Black Lives Matter.   To argue – even indirectly – that Black women are the reason the race is failing is a grave insult. 

Finally, blaming fatherlessness for the woes of the Black community lets the real culprit off the hook.  The problem is for the Black community is not a lack of marriage liscenses, but an excess of racism.  Structural racism is at the root of every evil the Black community faces.  Yes, each person should take responsibility for his or her own choices.  However, we cannot ignore the fact that racism reduces most choices to an option between rocks and much hard places.  Perhaps marriage rates would be higher in the Black community if Black men were not incarcerated at such high rates or if Black men earned as much as their white counterparts.  Racism, not responsibility, is where our efforts must be focused.       

For those that doubt the role of racism, I offer two points in support. 

In 1960, roughly two-thirds of Black children lived in two parent homes – almost the exact inverse of today’s statistics.  Also in 1960, African Americans could not vote, could not stay in certain hotels or restaurants, and could not move into certain neighborhoods.  Our high marriage rates did not translate into political rights.  Do those touting fatherlessness as the cure-all truly believe that if every black child came from a married home that we would never again hear about police officers shooting an unarmed black child or chocking a suspect until he yells, “I can’t breathe?”  I doubt that this is the case. 

Second, the percentage of Latino children living in two-parent homes is about double that of African American children.   Yet, the number of Latino children in poverty is only slightly lower than that of African Americans.  If marriage was a social silver bullet, shouldn’t Latinos have a lower poverty rate?   Moreover, why is it that married Black and Latino couples have half the wealth of white single parents?   Perhaps the structural racism that affects people of color is the real culprit after all. 

This Father’s Day, the Black community should celebrate all fathers and father-figures in our lives.  Our time would be better spent buying hideous ties than worrying about how “fatherlessness” is destroying our community. 

June 16, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 12, 2017

What the "Loving Day" Celebrations Really Need (Prof. Tanya Hernandez)

Monday, June 12, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision which invalidated interracial marriage bans in the United States. Recently, the Pew Research Center reported that since the 1967 Loving decision the rate of intermarriage has increased more than five fold, from 3% of newlyweds who were intermarried to 17% in 2015. In recognition of this increase, “Loving Day” annual events celebrate the court decision. Primarily organized by multiracial persons as social events, communities across the nation gather on Loving Day to celebrate the existence of multiracial families. The celebrations are part of a larger campaign to have the federal government create an official Loving Day federal holiday.


No other Supreme Court case, let alone a civil rights case, has its own designated federal holiday. However entire multiracial community websites are dedicated to lobbying the government for a Loving Day holiday. This is because much more is at stake for these activists than commemorating a legal case. Validating mixed-race families and in particular multiracial persons, is the fundamental aim of the Loving Day federal holiday campaign. However, the rhetoric of mixed-race racial distinctiveness used by the campaign has begun to be drawn into judicial questioning of racial integration policies in ways that counter Loving Day celebrations of diversity.


The lobby for a federal Loving Day holiday is part of the larger push for legal recognition of a separate multiracial identity as embodied by the earlier exhortations in the 1990s for a separate multiracial racial category on the census. In 2000, the Census Bureau began to quantify multiracial identity by soliciting respondents to designate as many races as apply, but refused to request to add an official “multiracial” category to the list of races.


Absent a multiracial census category, a federal Loving Day holiday can be viewed as an alternative route to official public recognition of a presumably racially distinctive population. While it is certainly laudable to demand respect for however individuals choose to personally identify themselves, the public discourse of distinctiveness that accompanies much of the lobbying for federal recognition relies upon the trope of being a new people with distinctive racial problems. Yet, in my own examination of discrimination cases filed by multiracial claimants I find that the racism they describe is very much part of the historic disparagement of non-whiteness in any form, rather than a new “mixed-race” mode of discrimination.


Nevertheless rhetoric has consequences. United States Supreme Court litigation has begun to associate the growth of a distinctive multiracial identity with the obsolescence of civil rights policies. Particularly worrisome has been the judicial suggestion that the growth of multiracial identity undercuts the legitimacy of affirmative action policies that have long sought to pursue racial equality. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts directly posed questions regarding the implication of mixed-race candidates for affirmative action programs, when the University of Texas’ consideration of race in its affirmative action plan was challenged in 2013.


In Fisher v. Texas (Fisher I) the Court affirmed the process of considering race as a factor among others in a public university’s admission efforts to achieve a more diverse student body. But the Court also narrowed the ability to use affirmative action by stating that in the judicial assessment of whether a particular admission policy satisfies the strict scrutiny standard of being narrowly tailored in pursuit of the goal of diversity, the university is not entitled to deference or a presumption of good faith in its operation of their programs.  Justice Roberts questioned how compelling the university pursuit of a diverse student body could be if a candidate who was “one-quarter Hispanic” or “one-eighth Hispanic” is allowed to identify on the admissions application as Hispanic. For Justice Roberts, mixed-race applicants are a cause for generating skepticism about the integrity and ability of affirmative action to truly achieve racial diversity.


Nor is this skepticism limited to Justice Roberts. When the Supreme Court re-examined the University of Texas affirmative action policy three years later in Fisher II, Justices Alito, Roberts and Thomas opined that the affirmative action program was faulty because “as racial and ethnic prejudice recedes, more and more students will have parents (or grandparents) who fall into more than one of UT’s five [enumerated racial] groups.” Such judicial weaponizing of multiracial personal identity to undermine the pursuit of racial justice is a perversion of Loving Day celebrations of racial diversity.


One possible antidote to the misappropriation of multiracial identity is for Loving Day celebrations to focus upon what was the ultimate civil rights objective of the Loving v. Virginia decision – the impermissible pursuit of what the Supreme Court there termed “White Supremacy.” This is because interracial bans only prohibited interracial marriage involving white persons. Fifty years later, after the Loving v. Virginia decision, interracial marriage bans no longer exist, but White Supremacist violence and rhetoric still flourish. Whether or not Loving Day ever becomes an official federal holiday, it is to be hoped that its celebrations will specifically commemorate the decision’s fundamental civil rights concern with racial hierarchy.


Tanya Katerí Hernández is a Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law and the author of the forthcoming book from NYU Press, “Multiracials and Civil Rights: Are Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination a New Kind of Multiracial Racism.”


June 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Playing While White

Professor David Leonard of Washington State University has just come out with a book entitled PLAYING WHILE WHITE: PRIVILEGE AND POWER ON AND OFF THE FIELD.  In different but related ways, race and sports are two of American's biggest obsessions.  The two intersect frequently, because of the racial demographics of participation in various sports; the prevalent racial stereotypes surrounding athletic performance, mental abilities, and masculinity/femininity; the power dynamics involved in athletic competition on and off the field; and many other factors.  Although sports can sometimes be a venue where racial divisions are transcended, they are equally or more often reflective of the racial hierarchies that pervade American society.  Professor Leonard delves into the ubiquity of White privilege in the sports arena, showing how White athletes are often treated more favorably than Black athletes in similar situations.  He uses examples from a variety of professional sports and critically examines the discourse on athletic competition, highlighting its subtle racial inequities.  

June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Black Panthers - A Documentary

In an era where grassroots protesters, including the Black Lives Matter, are subjected to government surveillance and mischaracterized by some as thugs, hooligans, and criminals, the 2015 documentary Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is worth watching. 

The homepage of the movie (also available on Netflix) describes it as follows:

"Change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored—cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change.

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is the first feature length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph, and many others, THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America."


May 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Interracial Marriage and Latino/a Racial Identity (Prof. Tanya Hernandez)

Yesterday the Pew Research Center released a report announcing the dramatic increase of intermarriage in the United States.  Looking at data since the United States Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans with its 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, Pew discovered that since 1967 intermarriage amongst newlyweds has increased fivefold from 3% to 17%.   Examined in isolation the data point that one in six U.S. newlyweds are now married to someone of a different race, appears quite astounding.  However the role of Latino/a racial identity is a missing piece of the picture that serves to question the real rate of intermarriage.
The largest driving factor in the apparent increase in U.S. intermarriage rates is the pattern of intermarriage between Latinos/as and White Anglos.  Pew reports that the largest amount of intermarriage between opposite sex couples is that between what it terms “Whites and Hispanics.”  The  White/Hispanic combination represents 42% of intermarriage, while in comparison the White/Asian combination represents only 15%, the White/Black combination 11% , the Hispanic/Black combination 5%, and the Hispanic/Asian combination 3%.  Notably, the Pew report neglects to discuss the role of “Hispanic” racial appearance and identity.
For a number of Latinos/as, our African and indigenous ancestry is more prominent than it is for Latinos/as whose European ancestry is more pronounced.  In fact, Latin America and the Caribbean have long histories of subordinating those of African and indigenous ancestry (see “Racial Subordination in Latin America” by Tanya Katerí Hernández). Moreover, research shows that darker-skinned Latinos/as are perceived with less favor than their lighter-skinned group members in the United States.   
So data about White Anglos marrying non-racially identified “Hispanics” tells us very little about the real rate of intermarriage in the U.S.   Are these marriages with Latinos/as who identify or appear as Afro-Latino/a or of indigenous ancestry?  Or are they primarily with Latinos/as who identify or appear as White?  White Anglos marrying White identified Latinos/as is not quite as significant a racial crossing as the Pew Report suggests.  But because the report lumps together Latinos/as of all racial identities and appearances, we have no way of gauging what real racial progress has been made in this country.
Treating Latino/a ethnicity as if it did not also encompass distinct racial identities, as the Pew Report has done thus comes with the risk of extrapolating inaccurate conclusions about the status of race relations today.  Disturbingly, the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent proposal to discontinue collecting census data about Latino/a racial identity in lieu of treating the Hispanic category as a race in of itself, will only magnify the challenge of trying to monitor racial disparities.  Just as assessments about “race-less” Latinos/as can skew our picture of the racial significance of intermarriage, data about “Hispanic” access to opportunity will veil the extent to which darker-hued Latinos/as are treated differently than European-looking Latinos/as.  In short, being more attentive to the specifics of how Latinos/as are racialized in the United States is important not only to gathering an accurate understanding of racism against Latinos/as, but also our nation’s overall racial progress.
-- This commentary was originally published in the Huffington Post
Tanya Katerí Hernándezis a Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law and the author of the forthcoming book from NYU Press, “Multiracials and Civil Rights: Are Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination a New Kind of Multiracial Racism?”

May 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Saving Obamacare is a Racial Justice Issue

Emergency room


The House of Representatives’ vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, will be harmful to all Americans.  But it is literally a matter of life and death for people of color. 

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million Americans will lose their health care coverage if the ACA is repealed.   Many of these will be people of color.  Prior to the ACA, uninsured rates for people of color were exceptionally high.  In 2012, 41.8 percent of Latino adults and 22.4 percent of African American adults were uninsured.  (For comparison, only 14.3 percent of whites 18-65 lacked insurance.)  After Obamacare, the uninsured rates for African American and Latino adults fell by one-half and one-third, respectively.  The ACA clearly worked to reduce the racial disparities in health coverage.  


Aca uninsured rates

Source material here



Children of color also benefit from the ACA.  The ACA provided additional funding for government-funded insurance programs for children.  But the ACA’s expansion of private insurance did far more to reduce the number of uninsured children of color. 

In 2014, less than one-half of one percent of the increase in insured children of color came from government insurance programs.  By contrast, nine times as many children were newly covered under private insurance.  This result is not surprising because when adults become insured, they usually insure their children under the same plan.  So, the ACA was the driving force behind the reduction.         

The reduction in uninsured rates for people of color is only one reason to fight to protect the ACA.  Frankly, people of color need healthcare more than whites.  While Americans of all races need and deserve quality healthcare, communities of color suffer from debilitating diseases at much higher rates than whites.  As such, the lack of adequate healthcare can have life-threatening consequences.

Per the CDC, only 7.6 percent of whites have diabetes.  By contrast, nine percent of Asian Americans, 12.8 percent of Latinos, 13.2 percent of African Americans, and 15.9 of Native Americans have the disease. 

While heart disease is equally present in all racial groups, the outcomes are not consistent among all racial groups.  The American Heart Association reports that African Americans are 33 percent more likely than other races to die from cardiovascular diseases.  Native Americans are twice as likely as other races to die from heart disease before age 65. 

The American Heart Association also found that rate of high blood pressure is about 1.5 times higher in African Americans than in whites.  In addition, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to die because of high blood pressure. 

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease would all be deemed pre-existing conditions under the new health care bill. 

While Republican leaders have promised that insurers will still cover those with pre-existing conditions, they have also pledged that insurers will be allowed to charge more for covering those with these illnesses.  Will people of color, who make less money and suffer more illnesses than whites, be able to afford adequate care under the proposed system?  It seems unlikely.  Sadly, it seems far more likely that the planned changes will cause uninsured rates for people of color to rise to pre-Obamacare levels – or perhaps even higher. 

Obamacare is far from a perfect system.  Even with Obamacare, people of color are, for the most part, still underinsured compared to whites.  But the ACA was still a major step in the right direction.  Obamacare has given adults and children of color access to health care that they desperately need.  We must fight to keep the gains received under Obamacare.  We must oppose efforts by the Senate to pass any version of the health care bill. 

Repealing Obamacare is a bad prescription for all Americans.  But for people of color, losing access to health care will be a bitter pill to swallow indeed. 

May 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Announcement: Critical Race Spacial Analysis

Announcing: Critical Race Spatial Analysis: Mapping to Understand and Address Educational Inequality

Deb Morrison, Subini Ancy Annamma, and Darrell D. Jackson, eds.

From the book webpage:

How does space illuminate educational inequity?

Where and how can spatial analysis be used to disrupt educational inequity?

Which tools are most appropriate for the spatial analysis of educational equity?

This book addresses these questions and explores the use of critical spatial analysis to uncover the dimensions of entrenched and systemic racial inequities in educational settings and identify ways to redress them.

The contributors to this book – some of whom are pioneering scholars of critical race spatial analysis theory and methodology – demonstrate the application of the theory and tools applied to specific locales, and in doing so illustrate how this spatial and temporal lens enriches traditional approaches to research.

The opening macro-theoretical chapter lays the foundation for the book, rooting spatial analyses in critical commitments to studying injustice. Among the innovative methodological chapters included in this book is the re-conceptualization of mapping and space beyond the simple exploration of external spaces to considering internal geographies, highlighting how the privileged may differ in socio-spatial thinking from oppressed communities and what may be learned from both perspectives; data representations that allow the construction of varied narratives based on differences in positionality and historicity of perspectives; the application of redlining to the analysis of classroom interactions; the use of historical archives to uncover the process of marginalization; and the application of techniques such as the fotonovela and GIS to identify how spaces are defined and can be reimagined.

The book demonstrates the analytical and communicative power of mapping and its potential for identifying and dismantling racial injustice in education. The editors conclude by drawing connections across sections, and elucidating the tensions and possibilities for future research.

Read the TOC and more and order here.

May 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Call for Papers: LatCrit XXI Biennial Conference

LatCrit XXI Biennial Conference & Related Events

Orlando, Florida





2016:  What Next?

Outsider Jurisprudence and Progressive Formations at a Crossroad


Given the moment and trends, it is time to ask hard questions and think of new answers.  LatCrit and other critical outsider formations in the legal academy face a new crossroad. After twenty-one years of critical scholarship and progressive community building, LatCrit, like many organizations that focus on liberation, anti-subordination, and social justice, faces ever-morphing challenges and hurdles. In recent years, the “crisis” in legal academia—in which private actors like law firms, nonprofits, and government agencies have divested their roles in training young lawyers while shifting these costs to law schools and students—has meant the increasing adoption of selective austerity measures, the vilification of the professoriate, and attacks on critical scholarship. Access to education, like access to justice, increasingly erodes. The values exemplified by social justice oriented movements in legal scholarship, movements which have as their objective the demystification of the status quo and the dismantling of power hierarchies, are the first targets of this crisis-driven rush to selective austerity. In their place, neoliberal values like rent-seeking and concentration of wealth, and the accompanying mythologies of meritocracy and U.S. exceptionalism, have filled the void. And in the law school environment, the historically most vulnerable continue to suffer the most. Increasingly, students, support staff, adjunct professors, clinical faculty, and writing faculty join the youngest without tenure (and many of the oldest)—all without clout, and pushed into a new class of disposable workers within legal academia. As all this happens, private financial actors and the federal government continue to profit from an all-loan based approach to financial aid, and those with the richest endowments and the most resources continue deploying them to re-inscribe inequality across the profession. Nonetheless, everyone hopes that things will improve . . . somehow, eventually.


And then November 8th changed all paradigms; seemingly suddenly, entrenched notions of slow-but-steady progress through true-and-patient struggle made little sense.


In the wake of the 2016 election, with its surreal outcome, our political process (finally) has confirmed beyond deniability how hyper-nationalism, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, oligarchy, and hate are essential to contemporary “conservative” movements. The masking of these trends behind such double-speak as the “alt-right movement” has also emboldened those who seek to promote violent forms of intolerance to step out of the shadows and into the light. The poor and economically marginalized struggle with increasingly exploitative neoliberal forms of welfare, privatized for the profit and protection of the powerful financial class. The fight against these powerful forces, in the classroom, in the courtroom, and in our daily lives, has poured into the streets as we struggle to navigate the onslaught of executive orders, legislation, and appointments designed to divide and conquer democracy itself. If any doubt remained previously, the post-2016 world makes plain every day that unbridled power trumps even fundamental principles with growing impunity. This extreme zeitgeist demands correspondingly fresh critical thinking – and action.


Fortunately, critical and outsider communities in legal academia have been planning strategically for the long term. LatCrit, for example, developed a strategic plan to prioritize generational transition, acquire a physical campus, Campo Sano, to host programs and workshops, and develop a critical justice course book for the varied classrooms and uses. This approach enables veteran and rising generations to emphasize these strategic priorities while maintaining other cornerstones of our established Portfolio of community projects—such as the biennial South-North Exchange (Antigua, Guatemala 2018), the annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop, our periodic Study Space projects, and upcoming programs at Campo Sano. But inter-national events since November 8th have made increasingly plain that our ongoing efforts to remain nimble are no match for the intensified perfidies of the post-2016 world.


This year, then, we consider another strategic transition, from the anchor event we began in 1996 with the LatCrit I annual conference in La Jolla to the next generation and phase of our ongoing programmatic collective work. Responding directly to the moment, the LatCrit community will focus and decide, together, how we will respond programmatically to this moment.  Rather than flinch or crouch, we instead choose to re-group, re-think, and re-affirm our commitment to long-term work that transcends moments, persons, or events.  Determined to match the exigency of this moment, critical and outsider networks will gather at the Twenty-First Biennial LatCrit Conference in Orlando, Florida, to mobilize our resources and address innovatively the intensified challenges facing our diverse networks and communities.


At this historically urgent juncture, we invite papers, panels, roundtables, workshops and works in progress across disciplinary boundaries and from all constituencies that center the key, basic questions: What next? How do we reverse the forces that triumphed last November? What does critical solidarity require now of us in terms of organizing and mobilizing? How do lawyers, organizers, academics, students, and allies move forward communally, centering systematic patterns of group injustice, preserving hard-fought gains from our ancestors, and forging ahead into a freer future? How can each of us best use our respective training and talents for this common struggle? What is the role of identity and education moving forward? What part will critical outsider jurisprudence and pedagogy have to play in formal and public education in the future?  How do we make a difference now, and going forward, through personal and collective action?


If we do not answer these urgent questions now, the forces of regression will do so for us.  Join us in Orlando for this forward-looking, action-focused, cross-disciplinary exchange.  Join us in helping to envision and secure the future we aim to live.


Paper, Panel, Roundtable, Workshop proposals and Works In Progress (WIPS) on all topics related to systemic subordination and organizing resistance are welcome.


DEADLINE: Please submit an abstract and your contact information by May 15, 2017.

Please make your submission at

For general information and questions about the event please email Saru Matambanadzo at

May 1, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

For Black "Intellectuals" Who Championed Jill Stein When Hillary Clinton was Enough - An Essay Reflecting on Trump's First 100 Days

100 image


Make no mistake – the individual that has been taking up space in the Oval Office for the past 100 days rose to power on the wings of good old-fashioned American racism.  However, attacks on Hillary Clinton by Black “intellectuals” were a powerful wind beneath those wings. 

Even though the 2016 election was decided months ago, as we reflect on the past 100 days, there are several reasons why we must discuss who is to blame for the outcome.  First, a problem is unsolvable until its causes are identified.  A major factor in Clinton’s loss was low turnout by Black voters.  If people of color had shown up in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton would be president.  But rather than encouraging people of color to turn out for Clinton, these Black “leaders” encouraged the third-party option long after it was responsible. Though it was crystal clear to most that a Trump victory would be disastrous for Black America, too many Black “intellectuals” with public platforms used their voices to mock Hillary Clinton, tell their audiences that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were one and the same, or to praise Jill Stein, the candidate preferred by the patron saint of lost causes.  These continued and relentless attacks on Clinton were likely enough to convince wavering voters– particularly young Black voters – to stay at home.  

This is particularly distressing because when Black folks show up, Democrats usually win handily.  However, Democrats usually lose ground in midterm elections because their core constituencies – young people and people of color – are less likely to vote in off year elections.   Meanwhile, the GOP’s older and whiter base continues to turn out in force.  

It is critical that the Democrats regain control of both houses of Congress in 2018.  The White House will remain in hostile hands, but a solidly Democratic Congress can stop Trump from implementing his agenda.  But if those who encouraged people to stay home or vote third party in 2016 continue to spout the same reckless nonsense over the next eighteen months, it could prevent a Democratic victory in 2018 – and perhaps even 2020.  This cannot happen.    

Second, while several factors caused the results in 2016, Black “intellectuals” must take responsibility for their role in creating the current political quagmire.  Each of the past 100 days has presented a new nightmare for marginalized people.  The White House has rolled back protections for LGBT people, particularly transgendered persons.  The Attorney General plans to weaken the consent agreements entered into by police departments across the nation.  The newest Supreme Court justice will likely provide the vote that will kill the Voting Rights Act – or at least put it in a permanent vegetative state.  Immigrants – including children who had no say in the decision to move here - are being deported.  Support for private prisons has been increased.  Plans for the border wall are progressing.   And while Obamacare is safe for now, at any point, the GOP could pass a bill to repeal it. 

None of these things would have happened under President Hillary Clinton. 

Even if it was somehow reasonable to think that Trump and Clinton were identical on racial issues prior to the election (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), the past 100 days have conclusively proven that this is not the case.  As such, anyone who says that the Democratic candidates in 2018 and 2020 are no different than their GOP counterparts deserves to be ignored like a call from a telemarketer.

Third, the logic of these “intellectual” left much to be desired.   The most common argument offered was some variation on the “voting my conscious” theme.  This is a dangerously cavalier attitude.  We have learned the hard way over these past 100 days that voting has consequences far beyond the individual.  Prioritizing the self over the community in this instance was not an act of conscience, but of ego.   Conscience dictates that we do what is best for others even when it may not be best for us.  Ego drives us to do what is best for ourselves even when it harms others.   If these talking heads continue to prioritize themselves and their agendas over what is best for the most marginalized, they deserve to be ignored like a piece of mail addressed to “Occupant.” 

Another problem with the logic employed in 2016 is that the folks in question savaged a perfectly good candidate in the outlandish hopes that a “perfect” candidate would win.  Settling for the good is not as emotionally satisfying as crusading for the perfect.   But we live in serious and dangerous times.  Such times call not for frivolous crusades, but for relentless practicality.  Being practical is not exciting, but the time for childish pipe dreams is over.  In this current climate, we must devote our energy into preventing any further harm to immigrants, the poor, women, people of color, and other marginalized populations. 

It is critical that we remember not to sacrifice the good for the potentially perfect going forward.  The Democrats are not perfect.  They are going to make mistakes.  They are going to frustrate us.   This result is inevitable because no one is perfect.  But while the Democrats are not perfect, they are good.  In the past 100 days, though they have had very little power to stop Trump, they have done what they can to frustrate his efforts and to speak for those that he is attempting to harm.   That is good.  And for now, good will have to be good enough.  Anyone who says otherwise in 2018 or 2020 must be ignored like an e-mail from a Nigerian prince seeking help with his fortune. 

Over the past 100 days, it has become clear that all but the wealthiest and whitest Americans will suffer greatly under the current regime.  There is only one way to stop this suffering.  We should protest, but protests won’t stop deportations.  We should boycott stores that sell Trump products, but that won’t change the Supreme Court.  We should continue to mock Trump mercilessly, but what he has done in the past 100 days is no laughing matter.  The only way to begin to repair the damage Trump has done is to use our votes to limit his power in 2018 and then to kick him out of office in 2020.

Anyone who tells you otherwise deserves to be ignored for the next 100,000 days. 

April 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Call for Papers: ClassCrits - Mobilizing for Resistance, Solidarity, and Justice

ClassCrits at Ten: Mobilizing for Resistance, Solidarity, and Justice

Call For Papers and Participation

Sponsored by the Tulane University School of Law

New Orleans, LA  * * *   November 10 & 11, 2017

Ten years ago, a group of scholar-activists organized a series of conversations about law and economic class.  Building on “outsider” jurisprudence that has moved inequalities of race, gender, and sexuality from the margins to the center of law, the group proposed a jurisprudence of economic inequality. To foreground economic justice, the group sought to critique mainstream law and economics and to focus on the lives of poor and working class people. 

Rejecting the neoliberal ideology of scarcity, and reclaiming the possibilities presented by the commons and by collective action, ClassCrits was born.  Our name, “ClassCrits,” reflects our ties to critical legal analysis and our goal of addressing economic class in the multiple intersecting forms of subordination. We confront the roots of economic inequality in divisions such as race and gender and in legal and economic systems destructive to the well-being of humanity and the planet.

Alternative visions and solutions have become even more essential in the contemporary moment. In the United States, 2017 has begun with historic dangers, global protests, and major constitutional litigation against the new federal administration.  The 2016 presidential election has exposed deep rifts in the foundations of law, economy, and society, reflecting a broad and deep discontent with neoliberal globalization.  Decades of bipartisan policies have focused on privatization and de-regulation of economic power.  Perceptions that established systems of law and economy are “rigged” against ordinary people have led to demands for change.  Some blame liberal “identity” politics for giving short shrift to those harmed by economic disruption.  Others rationalize increased inequality and insecurity as the inevitable results of innovation and potential growth that necessarily skews rewards to a privileged few.

What we cannot deny is the reality we are facing:  A counter-democratic revolution.  In response to this discontent, the prevailing response has been to take the neoliberal vision further. In place of principles and practices of law, democracy, and public service, this vision idealizes unaccountable authority aimed at unequal private gain.  Policy proposals include selling off public lands, privatizing the already fragile public education system with vouchers, and permitting private interests to foul the air and water held in common as fundamental to health and life on earth.  Promises to “Make America Great Again” seem to entail a rollback of civil rights protections for people of color, women, immigrants, religious minorities, and LGBTQ persons, along with an increase in militarization and an expanding carceral state, in the name of never ending foreign threats and geared toward hands of private profiteers. 

The new dangers of oligarchy and authoritarianism risk fostering hopelessness and cynicism. Many of us grope around silences to find reasoned words of persuasion.  Many struggle to find strategies for scholarship, teaching and advocacy sufficient to address emerging threats.

At the same time, this moment has sparked new voices and energy.  Whether it is attending town hall meetings, calling or writing democratically elected representatives, engaging in numerous strikes and protests, or filing lawsuits, a resurgence of public dissent and collective action suggests the possibility of alternative solutions.  Protests by indigenous persons at Standing Rock, by diverse groups of women marching in cities all over the world, by workers of color in the “Fight for Fifteen,” and by immigrants speaking out against the rising xenophobia and racism have inspired support and action challenging established boundaries of identity, interest, and policy.

During this exciting moment of possibility and struggle, we invite participants to submit applications to present at the 10th Annual ClassCrits conference, held at Tulane University Law School.  We invite panel proposals, roundtable discussion proposals, paper presentations, poetry and fiction reading, and art that speak to this year’s theme, as well as to general ClassCrits themes.  We are also interested in receiving proposals from law clinicians who engage in activist lawyering as a core part of their curriculum design. See the following page for details.

Finally, we extend a special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students and non-tenured faculty members) to submit proposals for works in progress. At least one senior scholar, as well as other ClassCrits scholars, will provide feedback and detailed commentary upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session at this year’s workshop

The general themes of ClassCrits, include: 

  • The legal and cultural project of constructing inequalities of all kinds as natural, normal, and necessary. 
  • The relationships among economic, racial, and gender inequality. 
  • The development of new methods (including the interdisciplinary study and development of such methods) with which to analyze and criticize economics and law (beyond traditional “law and economics”). 
  • The relationship between material systems and institutions and cultural systems and institutions. 
  • The concept and reality of class within the international legal community, within international development studies and welfare strategies, and within a “flattening” world of globalized economics and geopolitical relations. 

Proposal Submission Procedure and Deadline

Please submit your proposal by email to by June 1, 2017. Proposals should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation and contact information, the title of the paper to be presented, and an abstract of the paper to be presented of no more than 750 words.  Junior scholar submissions for works in progress should be clearly marked as “JUNIOR SCHOLAR WORK IN PROGRESS PROPOSAL.”  

The venue for the gathering is Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, LA. The workshop will begin with continental breakfast on Friday, November 10 and continue through the afternoon of Saturday, November 11. Arrangements are being made for conference hotels. The registration fee is $210.00 for all conference attendees who are full-time faculty members from the Global North. Registration is free for students and activists. Participants who do not fit into these categories, and/or who for individual reasons cannot afford the registration fee, should contact us at Workshop attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses.  

Conference Organizing Committee: 

Chair and Host, Saru Matambanadzo, Tulane University Law School, 

Tonya Brito, University of Wisconsin Law School,

Kim Clark, Pacific School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union,

Angela Harris, U.C. Davis School of Law,

Danielle Hart, Southwestern Law School,

Lucy Jewel, University of Tennessee College of Law, 

Martha McCluskey, University of Buffalo School of Law,

Athena Mutua, University of Buffalo School of Law,

René Reich-Graefe, Western New England Law School,

Matthew Titolo, University of West Virginia School of Law,

About ClassCrits

ClassCrits is a network of scholars and activists interested in the critical, interdisciplinary and international analysis of law and economic relations.  Please visit our website at for more about ClassCrits.



April 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rendered Invisible: African American Low-Wage Workers and Workplace Exploitation

Professor Llezlie Green Coleman offers an insightful thesis in her article Rendered Invisible: African American Low-Wage Workers and the Workplace Exploitation Paradigm published in the Howard Law Journal.  She states:

"The narrative of low-wage worker exploitation has increasingly narrowed in focus to reflect the experiences of undocumented immigrant workers whose immigration status makes them particularly vulnerable to wage theft and other denials of their substantive workplace rights. Indeed, much of the scholarship in this area rests solidly at the intersection of immigrant justice and employment law.

This article disrupts this paradigm by arguing that this limited narrative has rendered African American low-wage workers invisible. It also draws from the voices of low-wage worker advocates who have borrowed from current activism to announce that #BlackWorkersMatter. Given the role of paradigms in defining which issues merit our attention, analysis, and assessment, this article argues for a shift in the scholarly conversation to consider not only the historical reasons for the distancing of African Americans from worker advocacy, but also the current dynamics that have facilitated this phenomenon.

Despite the reality that low-wage workers in this country are predominantly white, images and narratives of African Americans historically dominated the images and narratives of low-wage work, particularly where that work involved the labor of farm workers (sharecroppers) and domestic workers. In recent years, however, the focus on low-wage workers has shifted toward Latino workers: often recent immigrants and sometimes undocumented. This shift in our attention, however, is not based upon a mass departure of African Americans from the low-wage workforce. While the number of African Americans engaged in low-wage work has decreased as a result of immigration patterns, African Americans continue to occupy a significant number of low-wage jobs.1

Nevertheless, the standard narrative of low-wage work has shifted to one that is inextricably linked to the exploitation of immigrants. Given the particular vulnerability of our immigrant population and the resulting high levels of wage theft and other workplace exploitation in the immigrant community, targeted efforts to address the intersections of these issues is both important and necessary. In the midst of this change, however, the experiences of African American workers have received very limited attention in the media, and even less attention in the academy. Indeed, the more common narrative of the African American work experience has become one of unemployment, rather than low-wage employment.

This article draws from critical race theorists’ black/white binary analysis to consider whether there exists an immigrant/non-immigrant binary paradigm in the analyses of low-wage worker exploitation. Finally, it considers the particular vulnerabilities and disadvantages this paradigm creates for African American workers."

A copy of the full article is available here.


April 19, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

‘Safe Spaces’ and the Educational Benefits of Diversity

With the troubling rise in hate groups in America, Professor Vinay Harpalani's article "Safe Spaces" and the Educational Benefits of Diversity offers a timely defense of campus safe spaces in the broader framework of diversity programming in higher education.  The following is an abstract of his article, forthcoming in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy.

"This Article analyzes and defends “safe spaces” on university campuses. Safe spaces are campus programs and organizations that are devoted to the needs and experiences of marginalized groups — especially students of color. The Article argues that safe spaces are vital to the educational benefits of diversity — the compelling interest upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin II (2016) to justify universities’ use of race-conscious admissions policies. Safe spaces provide valuable support mechanisms for students of color at predominantly White universities.

The Supreme Court has recognized that these students can often feel “isolated or like spokespersons for their race,” and safe spaces can help them with social and cultural adjustment. Additionally, safe spaces also provide unique educational benefits for both students of color and for White students. Contrary to popular discourse, safe spaces do not promote balkanization or racial separatism on campuses. Even safe spaces that focus on one group, such as residential programs devoted to Black heritage and experiences, are open to students of all backgrounds. Some of these spaces have very diverse student participation. Safe spaces illustrate that immersion within one group’s experience is compatible with cross-racial understanding, not antithetical to it. These spaces provide valuable opportunities for students of color to engage issues of salience within their own groups, and for White students to learn about issues that would not come up in predominantly White settings. The conversations and debates that occur between students turn safe spaces into miniature “marketplaces of ideas,” where unique cross-racial exchanges can occur. Such exchanges epitomize the educational benefits of diversity upheld in Grutter and Fisher II."

To download Professor Harpalani's article, click here.


April 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Islam on Trial (Sudha Setty)

The Boston Review featured a series of articles by legal scholars and lawyers on the legal, social, and political implications of the rise in Islamophobia in the United States.  Over the next few weeks, we will highlight the essays within this thought provoking and timely series.

Professor Sudha Setty exmaines how bipartisan consensus about the government's powers in matters of national security bolsters surveillance of Muslims, as well as other groups deemed suspect by the state.  She writes:

"Even if President Trump’s January 27 executive order barring or delaying immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries is deemed unconstitutional, the administration will continue implementing its plan to target Muslims. Trump has promised to ramp up the “respectful” surveillance of mosques and, if history serves as a guide, we should not expect popular, political, and judicial resistance to such measures to match recent furor. Since September 11, 2001, Muslim life in the United States has entailed burdens that the majority of U.S. citizens simply ignore because they do not affect us and, unlike the recent executive order, we are not privy to seeing them in action. Moreover, a high percentage of Americans are indifferent to or even supportive of Muslim citizens being watched closely by the government in the name of national security—despite the fact that at least some of the surveillance is legally indefensible and there is no evidence that it significantly improves national security.

Long before the Trump presidency, government surveillance targeted U.S. Muslims at their colleges, mosques, charities, and community centers. These shadowy practices are carried out under the umbrella of national security and exist largely beyond the reach of legal accountability. In late 2005 the New York Times disclosed the existence of a secret surveillance program against U.S. Muslims, put in place by the Bush administration in 2001. This led to public anger and accusations that the program undermined the constitutional rights of Muslims. However, rather than backing down, the Bush administration lobbied Congress to grant the legal authority to continue the program, and Congress obliged by voting overwhelmingly to enact the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008. The act retroactively authorized broad surveillance and immunized telecommunications companies and the government from lawsuits or future government investigations. Lest we forget, both chambers were controlled by Democrats, and then–Senator Obama voted for the bill."

To read Professor Setty's article in full, click here.


April 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)