Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, Tanya Katerí Hernández

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2019-09-18 19:24Z by Steven

Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, Tanya Katerí Hernández

Political Science Quarterly
Volume 134, Number 2 (Summer 2019)
pages 351-352

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Multiracials and Civil Rights is a jewel. Relatively brief and always engaging, it presents a well-defined and well-motivated inquiry that simultaneously manages to speak to a much broader issue of deep importance. While legal scholar Tanya Katerí Hernández persuasively answers the immediate question of how multiracial people’s claims of racial discrimination are positioned and adjudicated in U.S. courts, she also provides real food for thought about the role of multiraciality in today’s racial order.

Multiracials and Civil Rights draws readers in with a puzzle: why do certain multiracial activists or scholars perceive existing antidiscrimination law as insufficient for their community’s needs? Is it indeed the case that mixed-race people’s claims of discrimination are not being adequately handled in the courts? Drawing on records for all such legal cases in the United States, in which an explicitly multiracial person alleged racial discrimination, Hernández argues persuasively that American courts do just fine by such complainants. If anything, they seem to be particularly solicitous of multiracials, treating their allegations with greater care and deference than those of other racial minorities. So where is the problem? For some multiracial advocates, it appears to lie in the courts’ pretty..

Read or purchase the review here.

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Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-16 19:22Z by Steven

Virginia couples no longer have to disclose race on marriage license applications, state attorney general says

The Washington Post
2019-09-14

Hannah Natanson


Sophie Rogers and Brandyn Churchill, who are getting married on Oct. 19, are shown in this engagement photograph in the Napa Valley. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

Virginia will no longer require couples to identify by race on their marriage licenses, the state’s attorney general announced this week.

Under a new policy — which Attorney General Mark Herring detailed in emails to court clerks and members of the media late Friday — people getting married will be able to select “Declined to Answer” in a box asking about race. Herring also told clerks they must issue a marriage license “regardless of an applicant’s answer or non-answer to that inquiry.”

The new guidance comes about a week after three couples filed a federal lawsuit alleging the required disclosure of race is unconstitutional because it violates the First, 13th and 14th amendments.

“We were happy to help quickly resolve this issue and get these couples what they asked for,” Herring said in his statement. “These changes will ensure that no Virginian will be forced to label themselves to get married.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-09-06 22:15Z by Steven

‘Aryan’ and ‘Octoroon’: Couples challenge racial labels to get married in Virginia

The Washington Post
2019-09-06

Rachel Weiner


Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers are challenging a Virginia requrement to list race when applying for a marriage license. (Christophe Genty/Christophe Genty Photography)

When they applied for a marriage license in Rockbridge County, Va., Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers were told they could not have one unless they each chose a race, from a list that included “Aryan” and “Octoroon.”

The Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage over half a century ago. Yet the mechanism by which that prohibition was enforced remains on the books: a requirement that all would-be newlyweds identify by race. To fill out the form falsely is a felony.

So, weeks away from their planned Oct. 19 wedding at a barn in Fincastle, Va., the couple is challenging the law in Virginia federal court. Joined by two other engaged couples, they argue the law is a racist holdover that has no place in modern marriage.

The suit is part of both efforts to scrape away vestiges of segregation in Virginia and to move away from institutional categorization in both race and gender. The plaintiffs say people should be free in their personal lives to identify by race but shouldn’t be forced to, under the First, 13th and 14th amendments. But the lawsuit raises a more challenging question: Can the government address discrimination without labels created from it?…

Kevin Maillard, a law professor at Syracuse University who has studied interracial marriage, said that while researchers might use the data, “I don’t know what the compelling reason that the state would have in retaining tracking of those categories would be.”

But he was skeptical of an effort to move away from race altogether.

“I think with the deep history of racial strife we have in the United States, these categories are going to remain incredibly important,” Maillard said. “My mother is racially mixed, but she considers herself a black person.”

Civil rights groups rely on government data to investigate inequality in schools and the criminal justice system and challenge voting restrictions.

“We need data on who people are to see if there are patterns,” said Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center for Justice…

Read the entire article here.

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Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2019-09-04 02:43Z by Steven

Women in Philosophy: Cramblett, Race, Disability, and Liberatory Politics

Blog of the APA
The American Philosophical Association
2019-08-14

Desiree Valentine, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In October of 2014, news outlets began reporting on a case of a lesbian couple suing a sperm bank for receiving the wrong donor’s sperm. As the lawsuit Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank alleged, not only did the couple receive the wrong donor’s sperm, but they had specifically chosen a white donor with blonde hair and blue eyes and the sperm they received had been from a black donor. Both women were white. The couple gave birth to a black/mixed-race child in 2012 and claimed that their daughter’s race posed particular challenges for their family, from facing prejudice in their nearly all-white community to difficulties dealing with their daughter’s hair. The couple sued for “wrongful birth” and “breach of warranty,” citing emotional and economic difficulties.

Clearly, there are legal issues at stake—the particular sperm bank was negligent in their handling of the transaction. But the claim of ‘wrongful birth’ brings up myriad sociopolitical and ethical concerns as well. Effectively, the plaintiff was alleging that her daughter’s blackness generated emotional suffering and economic burdens for Cramblett, and moreover, that she should be compensated for ‘damages’.

Unsurprisingly, many commentators reacted with outrage, disbelief, and dismay—outrage that a mother would sue on account of having a non-white, but healthy child, disbelief that this claim could even be legally articulable, and dismay at the fact that one day this child would learn that her mother implicitly claimed that she should have never been born because she was black/mixed race.

While obviously problematic (the case was thrown out by an Illinois Circuit Court Judge in 2015), the fact that this case was legally and thus on some level, socially and culturally intelligible, sets the stage for an array of philosophical interventions. For my purposes here, I’ll focus primarily on the problems and possibilities of various conceptualizations of race and disability that are illuminated by a politically-aware and historically-situated reading of Cramblett

Read the entire article here.

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Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2019-08-31 20:23Z by Steven

Birth certificates have always been a weapon for white supremacists

The Washington Post
2018-09-11

Susan Pearson, Associate Professor of History
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois


(Bigstock) (ziimmytws/Bigstock)

Policing the color line through vital documents.

The Trump administration’s decision to revive and expand the Bush and Obama-era practice of denying U.S. passports to Latinos born in South Texas should come as no surprise. From his assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his allegations that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists to his promise to institute a Muslim ban, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he believes the only true Americans are white.

But long before Trump rode to prominence promoting birtherism, birth certificates were an important instrument for policing the racial boundaries of citizenship. In the Jim Crow era, states used these seemingly innocuous public records to ensure that the rights of citizenship were accessible to white Americans — and no one else.

The best example of this comes from the career of Walter Plecker. Plecker, the state registrar of vital statistics in Virginia from 1912 to 1946, worked with the white-supremacist Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America to persuade the state legislature to pass the 1924 Racial Integrity Act

Read the entire article here.

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In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-20 13:39Z by Steven

In 1870, Henrietta Wood Sued for Reparations—and Won

Smithsonian Magazine
September 2019

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Verdict slip collage
No image of Henrietta Wood survives today, but her story is recorded in court filings, including the verdict slip above. (Illustration by Cliff Alejandro; Source material: W. Caleb McDaniel; New York Public Library (3))

The $2,500 verdict, the largest ever of its kind, offers evidence of the generational impact such awards can have

On April 17, 1878, twelve white jurors entered a federal courtroom in Cincinnati, Ohio, to deliver the verdict in a now-forgotten lawsuit about American slavery. The plaintiff was Henrietta Wood, described by a reporter at the time as “a spectacled negro woman, apparently sixty years old.” The defendant was Zebulon Ward, a white man who had enslaved Wood 25 years before. She was suing him for $20,000 in reparations.

Two days earlier, the jury had watched as Wood took the stand; her son, Arthur, who lived in Chicago, was in the courtroom. Born into bondage in Kentucky, Wood testified, she had been granted her freedom in Cincinnati in 1848, but five years later she was kidnapped by Ward, who sold her, and she ended up enslaved on a Texas plantation until after the Civil War. She finally returned to Cincinnati in 1869, a free woman. She had not forgotten Ward and sued him the following year.

The trial began only after eight years of litigation, leaving Wood to wonder if she would ever get justice. Now, she watched nervously as the 12 jurors returned to their seats. Finally, they announced a verdict that few expected: “We, the Jury in the above entitled cause, do find for the plaintiff and assess her damages in the premises at Two thousand five hundred dollars.”

Though a fraction of what Wood had asked for, the amount would be worth nearly $65,000 today. It remains the largest known sum ever granted by a U.S. court in restitution for slavery…

But Wood’s name never made it into the history books. When she died in 1912, her suit was already forgotten by all except her son. Today, it remains virtually unknown, even as reparations for slavery are once again in the headlines.

I first learned of Wood from two interviews she gave to reporters in the 1870s. They led me to archives in nine states in search of her story, which I tell in full for the first time in my new book, Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Read the entire article here.

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The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-08-12 01:50Z by Steven

The Law According to Rachael Rollins

Boston Magazine
2019-08-06

Catherine Elton


Portrait by Diana Levine

The charismatic new district attorney is Boston’s greatest hope to bring the criminal justice system into the wide, woke 21st century. What’s at stake? Only the future of law and order in our city.

The first thing I notice when I walk into Rachael Rollins’s downtown corner office is the impressive wraparound windowsill jam-packed with plaques, diplomas, statuettes, and a little engraved glass prism that catches the afternoon light shining through the window. Everyone from Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly to the Cambridge branch of the NAACP and a Dorchester football team has contributed an object to her collection.

“Wow, you have a lot of awards,” I say.

“See,” Rollins says, looking up from her desk. “There are people who like me.”

The second thing I notice is that the city’s top prosecutor is already on the defensive.

At first blush, it seems a little odd that the woman who recently won a landslide election with 185,133 votes (a number she mentions with striking regularity) would feel the need to remind me that there are people who actually like her. Then again, ever since winning the job of Suffolk County district attorney on a promise to reform criminal justice, reduce racial biases in the system, and essentially reinvent the role of DA, Rollins has become a lightening rod for Boston’s law enforcement and political establishments. She has received more attention and public ridicule than any other DA in the state—probably more than all of the rest combined—for policies her critics warn are a threat to public safety. She has taken heat from the cops, feuded publicly with Governor Charlie Baker, and been hammered by a fellow DA. She’s also been thumped by her fellow progressives for not yet making good on some campaign promises and has been featured in more unflattering photos in the Herald than she has spent months on the job. And she’s losing experienced prosecutors by the droves…

…One of the foremost reasons that early supporters thought she should run is the rare mix of personal experiences she could bring to the campaign trail. The eldest of five children of a mixed-race couple, Rollins identifies as black but, thanks to her father, says she is “fluent in white Irish male.” She grew up with tight finances in a working-class family, but a scholarship allowed her to attend school at the tony Buckingham Browne & Nichols. “I am everything that people don’t think I am,” she tells me, “and that’s my superpower.”

Race and class aren’t the only divides Rollins has straddled in her personal life. On one hand, she is an accomplished lawyer who worked at the U.S. attorney’s office and served as general counsel at Massport and the MBTA. On the other hand, one of her siblings has served time in federal prison on drug and weapons charges. And Rollins is candid when talking about how another has had his own run-ins with the law, and a third has battled an opioid addiction. As the result of some of these entanglements with the criminal justice system, Rollins is the guardian and has custody of two of her siblings’ children, in addition to having her own teenage girl. It was these contradictions that made her the most distinctive candidate vying for the job of the county’s top law enforcement officer. “There is no one out there with such a wide range of experiences,” Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell told me, explaining why she was one of those dozens of people who flooded Rollins’s phone with messages urging her to run. “She gets the story from both sides.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Women on 2019-08-06 20:51Z by Steven

Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America

Oxford University Press
2019-08-05
288 Pages
28 b/w images, 2 maps
6-1/8 x 9¼ inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190846992

W. Caleb McDaniel, Associate Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

  • The epic, unique, and haunting story an enslaved woman and her quest for justice
  • Incorporates recent scholarship on slavery, reparations, and the ongoing connection between slavery and incarceration of black Americans
  • McDaniel received a Public Scholar fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities that enabled him to write this book

Born into slavery, Henrietta Wood was taken to Cincinnati and legally freed in 1848. In 1853, a Kentucky deputy sheriff named Zebulon Ward colluded with Wood’s employer, abducted her, and sold her back into bondage. She remained enslaved throughout the Civil War, giving birth to a son in Mississippi and never forgetting who had put her in this position.

By 1869, Wood had obtained her freedom for a second time and returned to Cincinnati, where she sued Ward for damages in 1870. Astonishingly, after eight years of litigation, Wood won her case: in 1878, a Federal jury awarded her $2,500. The decision stuck on appeal. More important than the amount, though the largest ever awarded by an American court in restitution for slavery, was the fact that any money was awarded at all. By the time the case was decided, Ward had become a wealthy businessman and a pioneer of convict leasing in the South. Wood’s son later became a prominent Chicago lawyer, and she went on to live until 1912.

McDaniel’s book is an epic tale of a black woman who survived slavery twice and who achieved more than merely a moral victory over one of her oppressors. Above all, A Sweet Taste of Liberty is a portrait of an extraordinary individual as well as a searing reminder of the lessons of her story, which establish beyond question the connections between slavery and the prison system that rose in its place.

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Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Louisiana, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2019-07-22 23:50Z by Steven

Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana

Cambridge University Press
January 2020
320 pages
17 b/w illus. 6 maps 2 tables
228 x 152 mm
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1108480642

Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics; Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Ariela J. Gross, John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History
University of Southern California

Highlights

  • Examines the development of the legal regimes of slavery and race in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana from the sixteenth century to the dawn of the Civil War
  • Demonstrates that the law of freedom, not slavery, determined the way race developed over time
  • Draws on a variety of primary sources, including local court records, original trial records of freedom suits, legislative case, and petition

How did Africans become ‘blacks’ in the Americas? Becoming Free, Becoming Black tells the story of enslaved and free people of color who used the law to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. Their communities challenged slaveholders’ efforts to make blackness synonymous with slavery. Looking closely at three slave societies—Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana—Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross demonstrate that the law of freedom—not slavery—established the meaning of blackness in law. Contests over freedom determined whether and how it was possible to move from slave to free status, and whether claims to citizenship would be tied to racial identity. Laws regulating the lives and institutions of free people of color created the boundaries between black and white, the rights reserved to white people, and the degradations imposed only on black people.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. ‘A Negro and by consequence an alien’: local regulations and the making of race, 1500s–1700s
  • 2. The ‘inconvenience” of black freedom: manumission, 1500s–1700s
  • 3. ‘The natural right of all mankind’: claiming freedom in the age of revolution, 1760s–1830
  • 4. ‘Rules … for their expulsion’: foreclosing freedom, 1830s–1860
  • 5. ‘Not of the same blood’: policing racial boundaries, 1830s–1860
  • Conclusion: ‘Home-born citizens: the significance of free people of color.
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The Legible Citizen: Race Making and Classification in Jim Crow Louisiana, 1955-1965

Posted in Census/Demographics, Dissertations, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-24 19:07Z by Steven

The Legible Citizen: Race Making and Classification in Jim Crow Louisiana, 1955-1965

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
May 2013
34 pages

Michell Chresfield

Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Vanderbilt University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in History

This study examines three legal contests during the high tide of black freedom agitation, 1955-1965, in which citizens of Louisiana challenged the state Bureau of Health’s authority to make racial classifications. Through these cases, I argue that state bureaucrats rather than the judiciary and legislature emerged as a new arbiter of race by the mid-twentieth century; by making racial categorization part of vital information recording, Bureau administrators could gain a better understand of citizens while also helping to shape the very meaning of citizenship in a racialized sense; and that this latter development was obscured by the ubiquitous and seemingly race neutral methods of vital statistic collection. Together these cases enrich general narratives of the Jim Crow era which have tended to focus on the role of the judiciary and the legislature exclusively. Through the inclusion of state bureaucrats, this study illustrates how racial categorization has persisted in a climate that is both more fluid and more obscure than generally acknowledged.

Read the entire thesis here.

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