Volume 24.1 (Fall 2018)
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Content titles below link to full text on the MLaw Scholarship Repository.
“When They Enter, We All Enter”: Opening the Door to Intersectional Discrimination Claims Based on Race and Disability by Alice Abrokwa
This Article explores the intersection of race and disability in the context of employment discrimination, arguing that people of color with disabilities can and should obtain more robust relief for their harms by asserting intersectional discrimination claims. Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw first articulated the intersectionality framework by explaining that Black women can experience a form of discrimination distinct from that experienced by White women or Black men, that is, they may face discrimination as Black women due to the intersection of their race and gender. Likewise, people of color with disabilities can experience discrimination distinct from that felt by people of color without disabilities or by White people with disabilities due to the intersection of their race and disability. Yet often our legal and cultural institutions have been reluctant to acknowledge the intersectional experience, preferring instead to understand people by a singular trait like their race, gender, or disability. While courts have recognized the validity of intersectional discrimination claims, they have offered little guidance on how to articulate and prove the claims, leaving compound and complex forms of discrimination unaddressed. This Article thus offers an analysis of how courts and litigants should evaluate claims of workplace discrimination based on the intersection of race and disability, highlighting in particular the experience of Black disabled individuals. Only by fully embracing intersectionality analysis can we realize the potential of antidiscrimination law to remedy the harms of those most at risk of being denied equal opportunity.
Urban Decolonization by Norrinda Brown Hayat
National fair housing legislation opened up higher opportunity neighborhoods to multitudes of middle-class African Americans. In actuality, the FHA offered much less to the millions of poor, Black residents in inner cities than it did to the Black middle class. Partly in response to the FHA’s inability to provide quality housing for low-income blacks, Congress has pursued various mobility strategies designed to facilitate the integration of low-income Blacks into high-opportunity neighborhoods as a resolution to the persistent dilemma of the ghetto. These efforts, too, have had limited success. Now, just over fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act and the Housing Choice Voucher Program (commonly known as Section 8), large numbers of African Americans throughout the country remain geographically isolated in urban ghettos. America’s neighborhoods are deeply segregated and Blacks have been relegated to the worst of them. This isolation has been likened to colonialism of an urban kind. To combat the housing conditions experienced by low-income Blacks, in recent years, housing advocates have reignited a campaign to add “source of income” protection to the federal Fair Housing Act as a means to open up high-opportunity neighborhoods to low-income people of color.
This Article offers a critique of overreliance on integration and mobility programs to remedy urban colonialism. Integration’s ineffectiveness as a tool to achieve quality housing for masses of economically-subordinated Blacks has been revealed both in the historically White suburbs and the recently gentrified inner city. Low-income Blacks are welcome in neither place. Thus, this Article argues that, focusing modern fair housing policy on the relatively small number of Black people for whom mobility is an option (either through high incomes or federal programs) is shortsighted, given the breadth of need for quality housing in economically-subordinated inner-city communities. As an alternative, this Article proposes, especially in the newly wealthy gentrified cities, that fair housing advocates, led by Black tenants, insist that state and local governments direct significant resources to economically depressed majority-minority neighborhoods and house residents equitably. This process of equitable distribution of local government resources across an entire jurisdiction, including in majority-minority neighborhoods, may be a critical step towards urban decolonization.
Whiteness at Work by Lihi Yona
How do courts understand Whiteness in Title VII litigation? This Article argues that one fruitful site for such examination is same-race discrimination cases between Whites. Such cases offer a peek into what enables regimes of Whiteness and White supremacy in the workplace, and the way in which Whiteness is theorized within Title VII adjudication. Intra-White discrimination cases may range from associational discrimination cases to cases involving discrimination against poor rural Whites, often referred to as “White trash.” While intragroup discrimination is acknowledged in sex-discrimination cases and race-discrimination cases within racial minority groups, same-race discrimination between Whites is currently an under-theorized phenomenon. This Article maps current cases dealing with racial discrimination between Whites, arguing that these cases suffer from under-theorization stemming from courts’ tendency to de-racialize Whiteness and see White people as ‘not being of any race.’ This tendency has led to a limited doctrine of same-race discrimination between Whites, affording it recognition only when racial minorities are involved. Acknowledging Whiteness as a racial project— the product of White supremacy—may enable courts to better theorize intra-White discrimination. Such possible theorization is developed via the stereotype doctrine. Accordingly, same-race discrimination and/or harassment between Whites is often a result of Whites policing other Whites to conform to stereotypes and expectations regarding Whiteness, i.e., how White people should act or with whom they may associate. Recognizing dynamics of intra-White racialization and the racial work behind Whiteness, this Article concludes, is aligned with Title VII’s antisubordination goals, as it is in the interest of racial minorities as well.
From Pelican Bay to Palestine: The Legal Normalization of Force-Feeding Hunger-Strikers by Azadeh Shahshahani and Priya Arvind Patel
Hunger-strikes present a challenge to state authority and abuse from powerless individuals with limited access to various forms of protest and speech—those in detention. For as long as hunger-strikes have occurred throughout history, governments have force-fed strikers out of a stated obligation to preserve life. Some of the earliest known hunger-strikers, British suffragettes, were force-fed and even died as a result of these invasive procedures during the second half of the 19th century. This Article examines the rationale and necessity behind hunger-strikes for imprisoned individuals, the prevailing issues behind force-feeding, the international public response to force-feeding, and the legal normalization of the practice despite public sentiment and condemnation from medical associations. The Article will examine these issues through the lens of two governments that have continued to endorse force-feeding: the United States and Israel. This examination will show that the legal normalization of force-feeding is repressive and runs afoul of international human rights principles and law.
Do You See What I See? Problems with Juror Bias in Viewing Body-Camera Video Evidence by Morgan Birck
In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, advocates and activists called for greater oversight and accountability for police. One of the measures called for and adopted in many jurisdictions was the implementation of body cameras in police departments. Many treated this implementation as a sign of change that police officers would be held accountable for violence they perpetrate. This Note argues that although body-camera footage may be useful as one form of evidence in cases of police violence, lawyers and judges should be extremely careful about how it is presented to the jury. Namely, the jury should be made aware of their own implicit biases and of the limited nature of the footage. Taking a look at the biases that all jurors hold as well as the inherent subjectivity of video footage, this Note shows how implicit biases and the myth of video objectivity can create problems in viewing body-camera footage, and the footage should therefore be treated carefully when introduced at trial.