Category Archives: Race
Call-for-Papers: “The New Color Lines: What Will it Mean to be an American?” – MAPOC Jan. 29-31 West Virginia University
Call-for-Papers and Conference Announcement: “The New Color Lines: What Will it Mean to be an American?” – MAPOC Jan. 29-31 West Virginia University. MAPOC Call for Panel and Paper Proposals FINAL 6 25 14.
New Symposium Issue Published: “Reigniting Community: Strengthening the Asian Pacific American Identity”
New Symposium Issue Published: UC Irvine Law Review has published an issue from a symposium on “Reigniting Community: Strengthening the Asian Pacific American Identity” that has a long list of interesting articles, many of which have poverty law relevance:
Reigniting Community: Strengthening the Asian Pacific American Identity
Denny Chan, Jennifer Chin, and James Yoon
The Invention of Asian Americans
Robert S. Chang
Legal Solutions for APA Transracial Adoptees
Kim H. Pearson
Symposium Published: “The Meaning of the Civil Rights Revolution” in Yale L.J. (with new David Super article)
Available here and on the Yale L.J. website. The symposium includes a great number of articles of interest, but to highlight one: David A. Super, Protecting Civil Rights in the Shadows, 123 Yale. L.J. 2806 (2014). Abstract below:
Beyond grand constitutional moments such as the New Deal and the civil rights era, the American people also remove other, less prominent issues from majoritarian politics. This process of petit popular constitutionalism resolves numerous important issues of government structure and is crucial for vulnerable groups seeking to implement and expand gains they made during grand constitutional moments.
In our two-party system, this gives groups three options. They may join one party’s core constituency, attempt to position themselves as a swing constituency, or seek to establish their concerns as moral imperatives outside of partisan debate with the leadership of a few mainstream politicians of each party. Exerting influence as a core constituency or swing group requires coherence, communication, and group identity that many sets of vulnerable people lack. The alternative petit constitutional route typically requires paring back a group’s objectives to essential aims that can win wide acceptance as moral imperatives across the political spectrum.
Since the 1960s, policy for means-tested public benefit programs has been torn between a partisan “welfare rights” track and a petit constitutional “anti-poverty” theme. The 1996 welfare law represented the final defeat of welfare rights in partisan politics. This leaves low-income people dependent on petit constitutionalism, following the same path that death penalty abolitionists and others took after being disowned by one or the other political party.
New Article: Ann Cammett, Deadbeat Dads & Welfare Queens: How Metaphor Shapes Poverty Law, 34 B.C. J. L. & Soc. Just. 233 (2014). Abstract below:
Since the 1960s, racialized metaphors describing dysfunctional parents have been deployed by conservative policymakers to shape the way that the public views anti-poverty programs. The merging of race and welfare has eroded support for a robust social safety net, despite growing poverty and economic inequality throughout the land. This Article begins by describing the influence that metaphors have on the way people unconsciously perceive reality. It proceeds by examining historical racial tropes for Black families and how they were repurposed to create the Welfare Queen and Deadbeat Dad, the metaphorical villains of welfare programs. It also tracks the demise of welfare entitlements and the simultaneous ascendency of punitive child support enforcement intended to penalize both “absent” parents and families with non-normative structures. Ultimately, this Article argues that the focus on demonizing Black parents in the welfare system has created an obstacle to providing necessary resources to alleviate the suffering of a growing number of poor children of all races, the intended beneficiaries of public assistance.
New Article: Aaron N. Taylor, Reimagining Merit as Achievement, 44 N.M. L. Rev. 1 (2014). Abstract below:
Higher education plays a central role in the apportionment of opportunities within the American meritocracy. Unfortunately, narrow conceptions of merit limit the extent to which higher education broadens racial and socioeconomic opportunity. This article proposes an admissions framework that transcends these limited notions of merit. This “Achievement Framework” would reward applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have achieved beyond what could have reasonably been expected. Neither race nor ethnicity is considered as part of the framework; however, its nuanced and contextual structure would ensure that racial and ethnic diversity is encouraged in ways that traditional class-conscious preferences do not. The overarching goal of the framework is to help loosen the “Gordian knot” binding race to class by ensuring that higher education opportunities are apportioned in true meritocratic fashion.
New(ish) Article: Melina Angelos Healey, The School-to-Prison Pipeline Tragedy on Montana’s American Indian Reservations, 37 NYU Rev. L. & Soc. Change 671 (2013). Abstract below:
American Indian adolescents in Montana are caught in a school-to-prison pipeline. They are plagued with low academic achievement, high dropout, suspension and expulsion rates, and disproportionate contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This phenomenon has been well documented in poor, minority communities throughout the country. But it has received little attention with respect to the American Indian population in Montana, for whom the problem is particularly acute. Indeed, the pipeline is uniquely disturbing for American Indian youth in Montana because this same population has been affected by another heartbreaking and related trend: alarming levels of adolescent suicides and self-harm.
The statistical evidence and tragic stories recounted in this report demonstrate beyond doubt that American Indian children on the reservations and elsewhere in Montana are moving into the school-to-prison pipeline at an alarming and tragic rate. The suicides of so many children is cause for despair, and the complicity of the education system in those deaths, whether through deliberate actions or through inattention, is cause for serious self-reflection and remediation. This article has been written in the hope that the people of Montana, government officials at all levels, teachers and school administrators, and public interest lawyers will have some of the information they need to take action. Despair, prison, and untimely death should not and need not be the ending places of public education for our most vulnerable children.
Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law – ProPublica. [Includes a good graphic.]
New Article: “The Blacks Who “Got Their Forty Acres”: A Theory of Black West Indian Migrant Asset Acquisition”
New Article: Eleanor Marie Lawrence Brown, The Blacks Who “Got Their Forty Acres”: A Theory of Black West Indian Migrant Asset Acquisition, 89 NYU L. Rev. 27 (2014). Abstract below:
The impediments to property acquisition and market success among African Americans are a significant area of inquiry in legal scholarship. The prevailing narrative on the historical relationship between Blacks and property is overwhelmingly focused on loss. However, in the political science, economics, and sociology literatures there is a countervailing narrative of successful property acquisition and retention among what might be termed a “market dominant” subset of migrant Blacks. The most successful subset of Black property owners in the United States today are descendants of Black migrants who were enslaved outside the United States. These free Black migrants, overwhelmingly British subjects originating from the West Indies, are largely invisible in the legal scholarship. Questions have arisen in other disciplines about what differentiated this subset of Black people. Why was their experience of property ownership so different?
Debates in the sociology, political economy, and political science literature have often focused on what Francis Fukuyama has controversially termed “cultural questions,” namely, the view that early West Indian migrants—like Korean or Japanese migrants—possessed a particular set of cultural traits that were distinctly well suited to asset acquisition. This Article focuses on a far more prosaic rationale, contending that the success of West Indian migrants may be rooted in the early grant of what I term “de facto property and contract rights” to West Indian slaves, which allowed their freedmen descendants to become the largest independent Black peasantry in the Americas. Between 1880 and 1924, U.S. immigration officials may have inadvertently selected for propertied migrant “types” when admitting immigrants. Through their own historical exposure to property and contract rights frameworks in the West Indies, as well as internal communal networks which supported informal banking schemes, these Blacks were particularly well placed to take advantage of opportunities for home and business ownership upon arrival in the United States.
The broader point is that there is a glaring omission amidst the “cultural” controversy: What about law? I use the term “law” in this context as it is used by many proponents of new institutional economics, as a proxy for an institutional frame- work that supports property acquisition, regardless of whether this framework is formal (state-supported) or customary. Moreover, the law and economics scholar- ship has focused extensively on institutional frameworks that allow certain religious and ethnic groups to dominate particular sectors, such as Orthodox Jews in the diamond industry or Koreans in the grocery sector. The insights of this literature allow us to interrogate whether Black West Indians had early access to institutions that facilitated contracting and property ownership and if so, whether this institutional history might contribute to their long-term asset acquisition patterns. The question necessarily arises: Why would we think of Black migrants any differently from the way we think of other ethnic and religious minorities who have been successful asset acquirers?