Category Archives: Race

Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law – ProPublica

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?

The Pros and Cons of Gentrification – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

The Pros and Cons of Gentrification – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

New Symposium: “Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System”

The New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy has published their symposium, “Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System,” which though it is not strictly about poverty is certainly related and features the following articles:

In Search of Racial Justice: The Role of the Prosecutor
Angela J. Davis

Across the Hudson: Taking the Stop and Frisk Debate Beyond New York City
David A. Harris

Stop Terry: Reasonable Suspicion, Race, and a Proposal to Limit Terry Stops
Renée McDonald Hutchins

“Give Us Free”: Addressing Racial Disparities in Bail Determinations
Cynthia E. Jones

Criminal Records, Race and Redemption
Michael Pinard

Implicitly Unjust: How Defenders Can Affect Systemic Racist Assumptions
Jonathan A. Rapping

“Curing” Own Race Bias: What Cognitive Science and the Henderson Case Teach About Improving Juror’s Ability to Identify Race-Trained Eyewitness Error
Andrew E. Taslitz

New Article: “The Hyperregulatory State: Women, Race, Poverty and Support”

New Article: Wendy A. Bach, The Hyperregulatory State: Women, Race, Poverty and Support, 25 Yale J. Law & Feminism __ (2014).  Abstract below:

Vulnerability and dependency theory offers a rich and promising vision for those who seek to conceptualize and build a more responsive state. In theorizing a road to a supportive state, however, what would it mean to take up the challenge of intersectionality? What would it mean to center the analysis around key aspects of the relationship between legal institutions and the poor, disproportionately women and families of color who have no choice but to avail themselves of what remains of a shredded social safety net? The Hyperregulatory State argues that, for women who have no choice but to avail themselves of the safety net (think welfare or public housing) and who by their sheer geographic exposure to the mechanisms of government systems (think over-policing of poor communities of color, public hospitals and inner city public schools) find themselves subject to government intrusion (think child welfare agencies and the criminalization of poverty) the state does not merely fail to respond to their needs. In fact, crucial interactions between poor women and the state are characterized by a phenomena here termed regulatory intersectionality, defined as the means by which state systems (in the examples herein, social welfare, child welfare and criminal justice systems) interlock to share information and heighten the adverse consequences of unlawful, deviant, or noncompliant conduct. At every juncture these punitive mechanisms are, in effect, targeted by race, class, gender and place to subordinate poor African American women, families and communities. The state is, in this sense, hyperregulatory. This article describes in detail the specific phenomena of regulatory intersectionality and contextualizes it within a larger schema of hyperregulation. Paying careful attention to regulatory intersectionality and hyperregulation would revise the theories of vulnerability and the responsive state in two crucial and related ways. First, it serves as a practical warning. If the current social safety net is so profoundly characterized by mechanisms that interlock to impose escalating punishment, the road to a supportive state that does not function in this way is likely to be long and complicated. Second, in attempting to realize the vision of the supportive or responsive state, a crucial first step is restructuring and building support systems to enhance rather than undermine the autonomy of poor women, poor families and poor communities. If we fail to center and prioritize those realities and those tasks, then this particular and crucial part of political and legal theory is again in danger of leaving behind those who are, by virtue of race, gender, class, and place, among the most vulnerable.

New Article: ““So Closely Intertwined”: Labor and Racial Solidarity”

New Article: Charlotte Garden & Nancy Leong, “So Closely Intertwined”: Labor and Racial Solidarity, 81 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1135 (2013).  Abstract below:

Conventional wisdom tells us that labor unions and people of color are adversaries. Commentators, academics, politicians, and employers across a broad range of ideologies view the two groups’ interests as fundamentally opposed and their relationship as predictably fraught with tension. For example, commentators assert that unions capture a wage premium that mostly benefits white workers while making it harder for workers of color to find work; that unions deprive workers of color of an effective voice in the workplace; and that unions are interested in workers of color only to the extent that they can showcase them to manufacture the appearance of racial diversity.

Like much conventional wisdom, the narrative of rivalry between unions and people of color is flawed. In reality, labor unions and civil rights groups work together to advance a wide array of mutual interests. This work ranges from lobbying all levels of government to protesting working conditions across the country. Moreover, unions can improve the lives of workers of color—whether or not they are union members—through activities that range from bargaining for better wages and working conditions to providing services like job training and continuing education to under-resourced communities.

We aim to replace the conventional wisdom with a narrative that more accurately describes the occasionally complicated but ultimately hopeful relationship between labor and race. In developing this narrative, we anchor our conclusions in an interdisciplinary literature that includes insights from legal, economic, psychological, and sociological scholarly research. This extensive body of scholarship indicates that union membership has significant benefits for workers of color in the form of higher wages and improved benefits, more racially congenial workplaces, and deeper cross-racial understanding. We complement this robust scholarly literature with real-world examples of union success at improving the well-being of workers and communities of color. In contrast to many other commentators, then, our account is largely optimistic, though we emphasize that there is still work for the labor movement to do.

New Book: “Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City”

Doing the Best I CanNew Book: Kathryn Edin & Timothy J. Nelson, Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City (2013).  Amazon link here.  Overview below:

Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning. The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. They offer keen insight into a radical redefinition of family life where the father-child bond is central and parental ties are peripheral.

Drawing on years of fieldwork, Doing the Best I Can shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor. Intimate interviews with more than 100 fathers make real the significant obstacles faced by low-income men at every step in the familial process: from the difficulties of romantic relationships, to decision-making dilemmas at conception, to the often celebratory moment of birth, and finally to the hardships that accompany the early years of the child’s life, and beyond.

New Article: “Growing Inequality and Racial Economic Gaps”

New Article: Thomas W. Mitchell, Growing Inequality and Racial Economic Gaps, 56 How. L.J. 849 (2013).  Available here (you have to scroll through the issue to get to this article).

New Article: “The Gentrification Trigger: Autonomy, Mobility, and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”

New Article: Rachel D. Godsil, The Gentrification Trigger: Autonomy, Mobility, and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, 78 Brooklyn L. Rev. 319 (2013).  Abstract below:

Gentrification connotes a process where often white “outsiders” move into areas in which once attractive properties have deteriorated due to disinvestment. Gentrification creates seemingly positive outcomes, including increases in property values, equity, and a city’s tax base, as well as greater residential racial and economic integration; yet it is typically accompanied by significant opposition. In-place residents fear that they will either be displaced or even if they remain the newcomers will change the culture and practices of the neighborhood. Gentrification then is understood to cause a loss of community and autonomy – losses that have been well recognized in the eminent domain literature.

This article focuses on gentrifying neighborhoods that were abandoned during the government sponsored suburban migration of the 1950s through the 1980s. Racially discriminatory practices of government and private actors often denied Black and Latino families the option either to join the migration to the suburbs or to maintain their homes in city neighborhoods. This article argues that in-place residents of now gentrifying neighborhoods should have access to rental vouchers or low-interest loans to restore the autonomy they were previously denied, providing them with viable, self-determining options to remain or exit the neighborhood. Such a remedy – which is consistent with the Fair Housing Act’s obligation to HUD and its grantees to “affirmatively further fair housing” – has the potential to alter the political terrain of gentrification.

New Report: “Separate and Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction of White Racial Privilege”

report imageNew Report: Anthony P. Carnevale & Jeff Strohl, Separate and Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction  of White Racial Privilege (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce 2013).  The press release can be found here.  And a slide show is on the main page here.