Volume 24.2 (Winter 2019)
Content titles below link to full text on the MLaw Scholarship Repository.
Race & Curriculum
Incorporating Social Justice into the 1L Legal Writing Course: A Tool for Empowering Students of Color and of Historically Marginalized Groups and Improving Learning
Article by Sha-Shana Crichton
The media reports of police shootings of unarmed Black men and women; unprovoked attacks on innocent Jews, Muslims, religious minority groups, and LGBTQ persons; and current pervasive, divisive, and misogynistic rhetoric all cause fear and anxiety in impacted communities and frustrate other concerned citizens. Law students, and especially law students of color and of historically marginalized groups, are often directly or indirectly impacted by these reports and discrimination in all its iterations. As a result, they are stressed because they are fearful and anxious. Research shows that stress impairs learning and cognition. Research also shows that beneficial changes are made in the brain, and learning and cognition improve when students are empowered and motivated by their lessons. Incorporating issues of social justice into the first-year legal writing course benefits all students by equipping them with the knowledge and practical skills to address issues of social injustice and to affect social change. Incorporating issues of social justice into the first-year legal writing course has the added benefit of contributing to a learning environment that permits law students of color and of historically marginalized groups to learn more successfully by reducing stress, altering their perception of control over psychosocial stressors, building positive emotions, increasing confidence, and motivating them to learn.
◊ ◊ ◊
Race & Policing
Article by Chan Tov McNamarah
Over the past year, reports to the police about Black persons engaged in innocuous behaviors have bombarded the American consciousness. What do we make of them? And, equally important, what are the consequences of such reports?
This Article is the first to argue that the recent spike in calls to the police against Black persons who are simply existing must be understood as a systematic phenomenon which it dubs racialized police communication. The label captures two related practices. First, racially motivated police reporting—calls, complaints, or reports made when Black persons are engaged in behavior that would not have been read as suspicious, or otherwise worthy of police involvement had they been White. Second, racially weaponized police reporting—calls, complaints, or reports made against Blacks in an effort to capitalize on law enforcement mistreatment of Black persons, or harm the victim because of their race.
Both of these practices have severe ill-effects on their victims. As this Article documents, racialized police communication serves to segregate communities, expose innocent Black persons to physical, psychic, and psychological injuries, undermines governmental crime fighting efforts, and ultimately fortifies the second-class citizenship of Blacks. Because of these harms, the Article ends by considering how the law might serve to deter or punish those who use law enforcement in racially oppressive ways.
◊ ◊ ◊
Article by William J. Aceves
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Russian government engaged in a sophisticated strategy to influence the U.S. political system and manipulate American democracy. While most news reports have focused on the cyber-attacks aimed at Democratic Party leaders and possible contacts between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign, a more pernicious intervention took place. Throughout the campaign, Russian operatives created hundreds of fake personas on social media platforms and then posted thousands of advertisements and messages that sought to promote racial divisions in the United States. This was a coordinated propaganda effort. Some Facebook and Twitter posts denounced the Black Lives Matter movement and others condemned White nationalist groups. Some called for violence. To be clear, these were posts by fake personas created by Russian operatives. But their effects were real. The purpose of this strategy was to manipulate public opinion on racial issues and disrupt the political process. This Article examines Russia’s actions and considers whether they violate the international prohibitions against racial discrimination and hate speech.
◊ ◊ ◊
Article by Danielle Delaney
This Article studies the relationship between the three main lawsuits filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DaPL) and the mass protests launched from the Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin protest camps. The use of environmental law as the primary legal mechanism to challenge the construction of the pipeline distorted the indigenous demand for justice as U.S. federal law is incapable of seeing the full depth of the indigenous worldview supporting their challenge. Indigenous activists constantly re-centered the direct actions and protests within indigenous culture to remind non-indigenous activists and the wider media audience that the protests were an indigenous protest, rather than a purely environmental protest, a distinction that was obscured as the litigation progressed. The NoDAPL protests, the litigation to prevent the completion and later operation of the pipeline, and the social movement that the protests engendered, were an explosive expression of indigenous resistance—resistance to systems that silence and ignore indigenous voices while attempting to extract resources from their lands and communities. As a case study, the protests demonstrate how the use of litigation, while often critical to achieving the goals of political protest, distorts the expression of politics not already recognized within the legal discourse.
◊ ◊ ◊
Digital Colonialism: The 21st Century Scramble for Africa through the Extraction and Control of User Data and the Limitations of Data Protection Laws
Note by Danielle Coleman
As Western technology companies increasingly rely on user data globally, extensive data protection laws and regulations emerged to ensure ethical use of that data. These same protections, however, do not exist uniformly in the resource-rich, infrastructure-poor African countries, where Western tech seeks to establish its presence. These conditions provide an ideal landscape for digital colonialism.
Digital colonialism refers to a modern-day “Scramble for Africa” where largescale tech companies extract, analyze, and own user data for profit and market influence with nominal benefit to the data source. Under the guise of altruism, large scale tech companies can use their power and resources to access untapped data on the continent. Scant data protection laws and infrastructure ownership by western tech companies open the door for exploitation of data as a resource for profit and a myriad of uses including predictive analytics.
One may believe that strengthening data protection laws will be a barrier to digital colonialism. However, regardless of their relative strength or weakness, data protection laws have limits. An analysis of Kenya’s 2018 data protection bill, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and documented actions of largescale tech companies exemplifies how those limits create several loopholes for continued digital colonialism including, historical violations of data privacy laws; limitations of sanctions; unchecked mass concentration of data, lack of competition enforcement, uninformed consent, and limits to defined nation-state privacy laws.