Category Archives: Books

New Book: “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City”

EvictedNew Book: Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016).

New Book: “Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake That Rocked a Nation”

FergusonNew Book: Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake That Rocked a Nation (Kimberly Norwood ed., ABA forthcoming 2016).  The book is not yet available but the above link includes pre-order information.

Book Recommendation: “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League”

PeaceBook Recommendation: Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League (2014).

[This recommendation is a bit dated, but in light of Scalia’s comments in Fischer, I thought it worth recommending this book.   The book does a good job showing the difficult circumstances of Robert Peace’s childhood, his brilliance in high school and at Yale, as well as the choices that led to his early and violent death.  It is also well written and engaging throughout.]

New Article: “Book Review, Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice” by Stephen Wizner

New Article: Stephen Wizner, Book Review, Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice, 22 Georgetown J. Poverty L. & Pol’y 441 (2015).

I have been unable to find a copy of the review except through paid services, but I am happy to email a copy to anyone who requests one.  It is of course a huge honor for all of us–Juliet Brodie, Clare Pastore, Ezra Rosser, and Jeffrey Selbin–that both Peter Edelman and Stephen Wizner both took the time to review the book.  It is also of course a relief that the reviews were favorable!  =)

New Book: “The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity”

TumbleweedNew Book: Allison J. Pugh, The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity (2015).

New Article: “The Banality of Racial Inequality”

New Article: Richard R.W. Brooks, The Banality of Racial Inequality, 124 Yale L.J. 2202 (2015).  [Reviewing Daria Roithmayr, Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage (2014).]

New Article: “Acting White? Or Acting Affluent? A Book Review of Carbado & Gulati’s Acting White? Rethinking Race in ‘Post-Racial’ America”

New Article: Lisa R. Pruitt, Acting White? Or Acting Affluent? A Book Review of Carbado & Gulati’s Acting White? Rethinking Race in ‘Post-Racial’ America, 18 Journal of Gender, Race and Justice 159 (2015).  Abstract below:

Acting White? Rethinking Race in “Post-Racial” America (2013) is the latest installment in Devon Carbado and Mitu Gulati’s decade-plus collaboration regarding issues of race and employment. This review lauds the book’s comprehensive treatment of the double bind that racial minorities — especially blacks — experience within principally white institutions. In this volume, the authors expand on their prior employment-centered work to consider, for example, Barack and Michelle Obama’s presence on the national political stage, racial identity and performance in the context of higher education admissions, and racial profiling by law enforcement. With a focus on intra-racial diversity, Carbado and Gulati begin to gesture to the intersection of class (more precisely, the struggle for upward class migration) with blackness in the high-brow settings that are the employment staple for Acting White?‘s analysis.

What Carbado and Gulati overlook, however, is intra-racial diversity among whites. While the authors give a nod to aspects of identity such as gender and sexuality, acknowledging that, like race, these may render individuals “Outsiders,” they otherwise treat whiteness as monolithic, as simply the foil for black identity work. In so doing, Carbado and Gulati overlook the struggle for assimilation that poor and working class whites — aspiring, striving class migrants — experience when they seek to integrate these same “white institutions.” The point is that all employees are expected to assimilate to institutional norms that, in elite professional settings, are as much about class (affluence) as about race (whiteness). I thus suggest that the book might have been titled, Acting Affluent?, although that alternative would have been misleading, too, because the identity work expected in these upscale milieu implicates both race and class. Ultimately, neither the title Carbado and Gulati chose nor the one I suggest is very precise because affluent black identity and affluent white identity are unlikely to be identical. While Acting White? grapples with some very complex and potent intersections of race and class, it looks right past many other such intersections, including that of white skin privilege with class disadvantage.

New Book: “Women and Justice for the Poor A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945”

BaltanNew Book: Felice Batlan, Women and Justice for the Poor A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945 (2015).  Abstract below:

This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women’s history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women’s organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor.

New Book: “A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System”

dowdNew Book: A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System (Nancy E. Dowd ed. 2015).  As can be seen in this table of contents, it includes many poverty related chapters.

-Thanks to Wendy Bach for the heads up!

New Book: “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America”

MeritocracyNew Book: Lani Guinier, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America (2015).  From the publisher’s website:

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Guinier goes on to offer vivid examples of communities that have developed effective learning strategies based not on an individual’s “merit” but on the collaborative strength of a group, learning and working together, supporting members, and evolving into powerful collectives. Examples are taken from across the country and include a wide range of approaches, each innovative and effective. Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself.