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Race, Racism, and the Law
Law Resources Page
Race and Racism in American Law

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: September 4, 1999
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"Critical Race Theory and Social Justice"
"Racial Disparity and the Death Penalty"
The Strong Black Woman Is Dead!
Randall's Site. Author Unknown.
Link added September 4, 1999.
Cigarette Smoking, Health, Law and Race
Randall's Site. Many valuable links.
Link added September 4, 1999.

"Critical Race Theory and Social Justice"

by Katheryn K. Russell


Chapter 9 of the Course Text, Arrigo, Social Justice/Criminal Justice, pp. 176-188.

Discussions and Lecture Notes

  1. Intersectionality

    A recurring issue in the social justice literature is our inability to adequately address intersectionality, the cross-effects of race, class, and gender with other social issues. Does critical race theory purport to do so? How?

    Critical race theory says that the assumption of neutrality in the study of the legal system is inappropriate. The system reflects the perceptions and assumptions of those in who power who both make and enforce the rules and the laws. To counter this, critical race theory insists that a different methodological approach to the analysis of law and the legal and social system must be used.

    Two factors included in critical race theory's methodological approach are:

    • Openly taking a perspective, that of the racial minority, and making no attempt to be neutral or objective.

    • Storytelling, or narrative. Relating personal accounts of actual experiences, and then basing the analysis on what has been learned from these personal experiences.

    Class discussion: How do we fit personal experience into the objective "scientific" measurement? Are they incompatible, or are they complementary?

    Personal experience is a valid way of knowing. Often, for those who have been silenced, telling of their personal experiences is a way of ending that silence, of our coming to see and hear the pain of their oppression, and a way of bringing their validity claims to the discourse table. Pepinskydescribes one of the four steps in peacemaking as that of listening to the "quietest voice," the one most often not heard. For further references on hearing the voice of those who have been silenced, consider Paolo Freire's culture of silence, and the silence imposed on women.

    It was precisely this kind of silencing that led to the feminist acceptance of "consciousness raising" as valid input for the study of women's issues. On this see Catharine MacKinnon on her methodology. See also Shulamit Rheinhart on feminist methodology. (Links to be added. Nag jeanne. Actually, the needed citations will be found in Women's Prize, Women's Difference, by Curran and Takata, and going up on site.)

    "Racial Disparity and the Death Penalty"


    Racial Disparity and the Death Penalty - External Site. Journal at Duke University.
    by John C. McAdams, 61 Law and Contemporary Problems 153 (Autumn 1998). Online at Duke. Read particularly III. Assessing Racial Unfairness.

    Criminal Justice Policy Review
    Offers abstract of "The Supreme Court and Evidence Of Discrimination: A Comparison Of Death Penalty and Employmen Discrimination Cases," by Gary Rabe.

    Discussions and Lecture Notes