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Race, Racism And The Law

Race, Racism And The Law considers race, racism and racial distinctions in the law. It examines the role of domestic and international law in promoting and/or alleviating racism.

Institutional and Systemic Racism

"Racist" and "racism" are provocative words in American society. To some, these words have reached the level of curse words in their offensiveness. Yet, "racist"  and "racism" are descriptive words of a reality that cannot be denied. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans (people-of-color) live daily with the effects of both institutional and individual racism. 

Race issues are so fundamental in American society that they seem almost an integral component. Some Americans believe that race is the primary determinant of human abilities and capacities. Some Americans behave as if racial differences produce inherent superiority in European Americans (whites). In fact, such individuals respond to people-of-color  and whites differently merely because of race (or ethnicity). As a consequence, people of color are injured by judgments or actions that are directly or indirectly racist.

Much of the attention of the last 40 years has focused on individual racist behavior. However, just as individuals can act in racist ways, so can institutions. 

Institutions can behave in ways that are overtly racist (i.e., specifically excluding people-of-color from services) or inherently racist (i.e., adopting policies that while not specifically directed at excluding people-of-color, nevertheless result in their exclusion). 

Therefore, institutions can respond to people-of-color and whites differently. Institutional behavior can injure people-of-color; and, when it does, it is nonetheless racist in outcome if not in intent. 

Perpetual Oppression

As I celebrate my 66th birthday. I am so grateful for the love of family and friends.

I am distressed by the continuing oppression of Blacks and the inability of both blacks, whites and others to recognize the virulent anti-black racism that is distinctive american.

Almost generation of blacks have had a system of oppression that they had to attempt to dismantle
- my great-grandparents and ancestors had slavery;
- my grandparents, parents and my self had legal apartheid (aka jim crow),
-my children and grandchildren have de facto apartheid (new jim crow).

Each of these systems have based on a system of law and interpretation. America's de facto apartheid is based on having no formal laws that result racial oppression but limiting illegal discrimination to overt intentional acts -- thus not only allowing but legally authorizing covert, unconscious, unintentional discrimination.

We need to name it. Call it for what its and take on the challenge of dismantling it. It is going to be difficult to dismantle because many blacks now have an economic interest in maintaining the system.

The ingenious of this current day system is assure that some blacks get some limited political power -- but only those blacks who are committed to maintaining the oppressed system - shall I name names - yes Obama, cory booker, the congressional black caucus.

The ingenious of this current system is to assure that some blacks get some limited economic power -- but only those blacks who are committed to maintaining the oppressed system -- shall I name names -- yes Oprah, almost every entertainer, sports person, black ceo

When I was growing up in the south and used to pick cotton, we had a saying that we used for life circumstances " A tough row to hoe." We have left for the younger generation a tough row to hoe.

WAKE UP and protest, rebell. Lets not die with our children in perpetual oppression!

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On the Web Since 1995

Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law
The University of Dayton
School of Law
Dayton, OH 45469-2772
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