Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Latino Studies, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2022-05-17 01:23Z by Steven

Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality

Beacon Press
2022-08-23
208 pages
5.5 x 8.5 Inches
Hardcover ISBN: ISBN: 978-080702013-5

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York

The first comprehensive book about anti-Black bias in the Latino community that unpacks the misconception that Latinos are “exempt” from racism due to their ethnicity and multicultural background.

Racial Innocence will challenge what you thought about racism and bias, and demonstrate that it’s possible for a historically marginalized group to experience discrimination and also be discriminatory. Racism is deeply complex, and law professor and comparative race relations expert Tanya Katerí Hernández exposes “the Latino racial innocence cloak” that often veils Latino complicity in racism. As Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in the US, this revelation is critical to dismantling systemic racism. Based on interviews, discrimination case files, and civil rights law, Hernández reveals Latino anti-Black bias in the workplace, the housing market, schools, places of recreation, criminal justice, and in Latino families.

By focusing on racism perpetrated by communities outside those of White non-Latino people, Racial Innocence brings to light the many Afro-Latino and African American victims of anti-Blackness at the hands of other people of color. Through exploring the interwoven fabric of discrimination and examining the cause of these issues, we can begin to move toward a more egalitarian society.

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The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-05-05 01:33Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

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So What Exactly Is ‘Blood Quantum’?

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2022-03-29 18:49Z by Steven

So What Exactly Is ‘Blood Quantum’?

Code Switch: Race. In Your Face.
National Public Radio
2018-02-09

Kat Chow

Blood quantum was initially a system that the federal government placed onto tribes in an effort to limit their citizenship.
Leigh Wells/Getty Images/Ikon Images


If you’re Native American, there’s a good chance that you’ve thought a lot about blood quantum — a highly controversial measurement of the amount of “Indian blood” you have. It can affect your identity, your relationships and whether or not you — or your children — may become a citizen of your tribe.

Blood quantum was initially a system that the federal government placed onto tribes in an effort to limit their citizenship. Many Native nations, including the Navajo Nation and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, still use it as part of their citizenship requirements.

And how tribes use blood quantum varies from tribe to tribe. The Navajo Nation requires a minimum of 25 percent “Navajo blood,” and Turtle Mountain requires a minimum of 25 percent of any Indian blood, as long as its in combination with some Turtle Mountain.

Blood quantum minimums really restrict who can be a citizen of a tribe. If you’ve got 25 percent of Navajo blood — according to that tribe’s blood quantum standards — and you have children with someone who has a lower blood quantum, those kids won’t be able to enroll.

So why keep a system that’s decreasing your tribe’s rolls and could lead to its demise?

“I use the term ‘Colonial Catch 22’ to say that there is no clear answer, and that one way or another, people are hurt,” says Elizabeth Rule. She’s a doctoral candidate at Brown University who specializes in Native American studies, and also a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

“The systems are so complicated,” she explains, “but it’s all part of tribes deciding on their own terms, in their own ways, utilizing their own sovereignty [to decide] what approach is best for them.”

As we explored blood quantum in this week’s episode, we thought a primer of what, exactly, this system is and how it works — or doesn’t — might be useful. Here’s my interview with Elizabeth Rule, edited and condensed for clarity…

Read the entire story here.

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How Are We Still Debating Interracial Marriage in 2022?

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2022-03-25 19:57Z by Steven

How Are We Still Debating Interracial Marriage in 2022?

The New York Times
2022-03-25

Jamelle Bouie, Opinion Columnist

Mildred and Richard Loving, who won their case against a Virginia law that banned interracial marriage. Getty Images

“You would be OK with the Supreme Court leaving the question of interracial marriage to the states?”

“Yes,” said Senator Mike Braun of Indiana while fielding questions from local media on Tuesday. “If you’re not wanting the Supreme Court to weigh in on issues like that, you’re not going to be able to have your cake and eat it, too,” he said. “That’s hypocritical.”

Braun walked this back, of course, undoubtedly aware of the damage it could do if he let it stand. “Earlier during a virtual press conference, I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage,” he said in a statement to NBC News. “Let me be clear on that issue — there is no question the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind based on race, that is not something that is even up for debate, and I condemn racism in any form, at all levels and by any states, entities or individuals.”

As damage control goes, this was unpersuasive. It’s not just that the questions he originally answered were clear; it’s that Braun’s answer was consistent with what he had said throughout the news conference. His argument to reporters was that the existence of certain rights, and the particular shape they take, was best left to the states. He used abortion and marijuana legalization as examples. It was then that a reporter asked if this applied to interracial marriage…

Read the entire article here.

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The Journey to Separate but Equal: Madame Decuir’s Quest for Racial Justice in the Reconstruction Era

Posted in Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-03-22 19:31Z by Steven

The Journey to Separate but Equal: Madame Decuir’s Quest for Racial Justice in the Reconstruction Era

University Press of Kansas
April 2021
256 pages
Hardback ISBN: ISBN 978-0-7006-3183-4

Jack M. Beermann, Professor of Law and Harry Elwood Warren Scholar
Boston University School of Law

In The Journey to Separate but Equal: Madame Decuir’s Quest for Racial Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Jack Beermann tells the story of how, in Hall v. Decuir, the post–Civil War US Supreme Court took its first step toward perpetuating the subjugation of the non-White population of the United States by actively preventing a Southern state from prohibiting segregation on a riverboat in the coasting trade on the Mississippi River. The Journey to Separate but Equal offers the first complete exploration of Hall v. Decuir, with an in-depth look at the case’s record; the lives of the parties, lawyers, and judges; and the case’s social context in 1870s Louisiana. The book centers around the remarkable story of Madame Josephine Decuir and the lawsuit she pursued because she had been illegally barred from the cabin reserved for White women on the Governor Allen riverboat.

The drama of Madame Decuir’s fight against segregation’s denial of her dignity as a human and particularly as a woman enriches our understanding of the Reconstruction era, especially in Louisiana, including political and legal changes that occurred during that time and the plight of people of color who were freed from slavery but denied their dignity and rights as American citizens. Hall v. Decuir spanned the pivotal period of 1872–1878, during which White segregationist Democrats “redeemed” the South from Republican control. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hall overturned the application of an 1869 Louisiana statute prohibiting racial segregation in Madame Decuirs case because of the status of the Mississippi River as a mode of interstate commerce. The decision represents a crucial precedent that established the legal groundwork for the entrenchment of Jim Crow in the law of the United States, leading directly to the Courts adoption of separate but equal in Plessy v. Ferguson.

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Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism

Posted in Books, History, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2022-02-22 03:09Z by Steven

Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism

The New Press
August 2020
272 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-59558-917-0

Laura E. Gómez, Professor of Law; Professor of Sociology; Professor of Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

An NPR Best Book of the Year, exploring the impact of Latinos’ new collective racial identity on the way Americans understand race, with a new afterword by the author

Latinos will comprise a third of the American population in just a matter of decades, but many Americans still struggle with two basic questions: Who are Latinos and where do they fit in America’s racial order? In this “timely and important examination of Latinx identity” (Ms.), Laura E. Gómez, a leading critical race scholar, argues that it is only recently that Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and others are seeing themselves (and being seen by others) under the banner of a cohesive racial identity. And the catalyst for this emergent identity, she argues, has been the ferocity of anti-Latino racism.

In what Booklist calls “an incisive study of history, complex interrogation of racial construction, and sophisticated legal argument,” Gómez “packs a knockout punch” (Publishers Weekly), illuminating for readers the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making processes that Latinos have undergone over time, indelibly changing the way race functions in this country.

The paperback features a new afterword in which the author analyzes results of the 2020 Census, providing “much-needed insight into the true complexity of Latinx identity” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Judge Jane Bolin

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-02-01 04:14Z by Steven

Judge Jane Bolin

Historical Society of the New York Courts
2018-02-21

David L. Goodwin, Appellate Public Defender
New York, New York

Dear Jane,

You’re one of the reasons the courts for children are a greater hope than some people say. You’re one of the dedicated ones.1

Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, but with a career in the five boroughs of New York City, Jane Matilda Bolin (1908–2007) is best known for a particular “first” of groundbreaking magnitude. She holds the honor of being the first African-American judge in the entire United States, joining the bench of New York City’s Domestic Relations Court in 1939. Her appointment by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, which came as some surprise to Bolin herself — summoned with her husband to an audience with the mayor at the 1939 World’s Fair, she was not informed of the mayor’s intentions in advance — made “news around the world.”2

About that news: in announcing this historical judgeship, some outlets hedged the call, if ever so slightly. The Chicago Defender, which “chronicled and catalyzed the African-American community’s greatest accomplishments for nearly a century,”3 proudly announced that La Guardia had “smashed a precedent for the entire United States” because Bolin was “thought to be the first Race woman judge to be appointed in this country.”4 About two months later, the Defender had eliminated the qualifier, describing Judge Bolin as the “first Race woman to serve as a judge in the history of America.”5 And despite the shifting nature of historical inquiry, her title has held firm; on the sad occasion of her obituary, she was still, resolutely, “the first black woman in the United States to become a judge.”6

Read the entire article here.

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Surnames, by Counties and Cities, of Mixed Negroid Virginia Families Striving to Pass as “Indian” or White by Walter A. Plecker (ca. 1943)

Posted in Census/Demographics, Law, Letters, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States, Virginia on 2022-01-20 22:18Z by Steven

Surnames, by Counties and Cities, of Mixed Negroid Virginia Families Striving to Pass as “Indian” or White by Walter A. Plecker (ca. 1943)

Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Richmond, Virginia
(Source: Encyclopedia Virginia)

December 1943

To Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixtures:

In our January 1943 annual letter to local registrars and clerks of courts, with list of mixed surnames, we called attention to the greatly increased effort and arrogant demands now being made for classification as whites, or at least for recognition as Indians, as a preliminary step to admission into the white race by marriage, of groups of the descendants of the “free negroes,” so designated before 1865 to distinguish them from slaves.

According to Mendel’s law of heredity, one out of four of a family of mixed breeds, through the introduction of illegitimate white blood, is now so near white in appearance as to lead him to proclaim himself as such and to demand admission into white schools, forbidden by the State Constitution. The other three find it more difficult to make the grade. As a climax of their ambition, colored people of this type are applying for licenses to marry whites, or for white license when intermarrying amongst themselves. These they frequently secure with ease when they apply in a county or city not the home of the woman and are met by a clerk or deputy who justifies himself in accepting a casual affidavit as the truth and in issuing a license to any applicant regardless of the requirements of Section 5099a, Paragraph 4, of the Code. This Section places the proof upon the applicants, not upon the clerks. We have learned that affidavits cannot always be accepted as truth. This loose practice (to state it mildly) of a few clerks is now the greatest obstacle in the way of the proper registration by race required of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in that Section. Local registrars, who are supposed to know the people of their registration areas, of course, have no excuse for not catching false registration of births and deaths.

In many cases negroids have white marriage certificates, while the Bureau demands correct Legal registration as to race when their children’s births are reported. Armed with the clerk’s marriage certificate, they leave home and easily pass as white, when a birth certificate with the pedigree on the back is not requires. They are even threatening legal action against the State Registrar but have difficulty in securing a lawyer if he first applies to the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the facts.

The Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, through the exceptional, painstaking, and laborious work of the highly trained genealogist whom it is fortunate in having, has made a study by groups and families of the principal borderline aspirants for racial change. The chief sources of information are the early birth and death records, made by tax assessors from 1853 to 1896; marriage records from 1853 to date; United States Census reports for 1830, 1850, and 1870, especially a printed list of free negroes by counties from the 1830 Census; county tapayer lists by races, now in the State Library, which have been studied back to 1808; and, not of least value, their own proclamation of race made by applicants for registration as voters, made soon after the War Between the States, to United States military authorities, now preserved in the State Library. The progenitors of the present would-be whites then marched up voluntarily and registered, for the first time in the life of their race in Virginia, as negro voters—not as Indians, not as whites.

Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, ana in the State Library, indicate that there, does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood. Since our more complete investigation of all of these records and the statements (mostly signed) of numerous trustworthy old citizens, many now dead, all preserved in our “racial integrity” files, no one has attempted by early recorded evidence to disprove this finding. If such evidence exists, our research worker would have found it.

One weak point, which is giving us endless trouble, is the fact that many birth certificates since 1912 have, without realization of future danger, been accepted with false registration as “Indian.” Not a few, when we were off our guard, have slipped by as white. The General Assembly should empower us to state the recorded pedigree on the backs of such certificates and transcripts, to protect those desiring the truth now and in the future.

SURNAMES, BY COUNTIES AND CITIES, OF MIXED NEGROID VIRGINIA FAMILIES STRIVING TO PASS AS “INDIAN” OR WHITE.

Albemarle: Moon, Powell, Kidd, Pumphrey Amherst: (Migrants to Alleghany and Campbell) Adcock (Adcox), Beverly (this family is now trying to evade the situation by adopting the name of Burch or Birch, which was the name of the white mother of the present generation), Branham, Duff, Floyd, Hamilton, Hartless, Hicks, Johns, Lawless, Nuckles (Knuckles), Painter, Ramsey, Redcross, Roberts, Southards (Suthards, Southerds, Southers), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Fillis, Clark, Cash, Wood. Bedford: McVey, Maxey, Branham, Burley. (See Amherst County) Rockbridge: (Migrants to Augusta) Cash, Clark, Coleman, Duff, Floyd, Hartless, Hicks, Mason, Mayse (Mays), Painters, Pults, Ramsey, Southerds (Southers, Southards, Suthards), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Wood, Johns. Charles City: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins. King William: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Custalow (Custaloe), Dungoe, Holmes, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes, Spurlock, Doggett. New Kent: Collins, Bradby, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins, Langston. Henrico and Richmond City: See Charles City, New Kent, and King William. Caroline: Byrd, Fortune, Nelson. (See Essex) Essex and King and Queen: Nelson, Fortune, Byrd, Cooper, Tate, Hammond, Brooks, Boughton, Prince, Mitchell, Robinson. Elizabeth City & Newport News: Stewart (descendants of Charles City families). Halifax: Epps (Eppes), Stewart (Stuart), Coleman, Johnson, Martin, Talley, Sheppard (Shepard), Young. Norfolk County & Portsmouth: Sawyer, Bass, Weaver, Locklear (Locklair), King, Bright, Porter, Ingram. Westmoreland: Sorrells, Worlds (or Worrell), Atwells, Gutridge, Cliff. Greene: Shiflett, Shiflet. Prince William: Tyson, Segar. (See Fauquier) Fauquier: Hoffman (Huffman), Riley, Colvin, Phillips. (See Prince William) Lancaster: Dorsey (Dawson). Washington: Beverly, Barlow, Thomas, Hughes, Lethcoe, Worley. Roanoke County: Beverly. (See Washington) Lee and Smyth: Collins, Gibson (Gipson), Moore, Goins, Ramsey, Delph, Bunch, Freeman, Miso, Barlow, Bolden (Bolin), Mullins, Hawkins—Chiefly Tennessee Melungeons.” Scott: Dingus. (See Lee County.) Russell: Keith, Casell, Stillwell, Meade, Proffitt. (See Lee & Tazewell) Tazewell: Hammed, Duncan. (See Russell) Wise: See Lee, Smyth, Scott, and Russell Counties.

Very truly yours,

W. A. Plecker, M. D.
State Registrar of Vital Statistics

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Unsung hero: As a pioneering attorney and judge, Elreta Alexander-Ralston left indelible mark on civil rights, criminal justice reform

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-01-20 19:21Z by Steven

Unsung hero: As a pioneering attorney and judge, Elreta Alexander-Ralston left indelible mark on civil rights, criminal justice reform

The News & Record
Greensboro, North Carolina
2021-12-19

Nancy McLaughlin

Historian and UNCG professor Virginia Summey’s biography of Elreta Melton Alexander-Ralston goes back to the history-making judge’s childhood, including her years at Dudley High School and N.C. A&T.
News & Record archives

GREENSBORO — Former attorney and District Court Judge Elreta Alexander-Ralston was known for the sheer force of her personality and style.

Outspoken. Flamboyant. Fierce. Unforgettable. Bold. She had an air of authority about her that left no doubt who was in charge.

And oh the stories, said historian and UNCG fellow Virginia Summey, the author of a new biography of the history-making judge.

“I can’t imagine I will have as much fun on another book,” Summey said.

Summey was watching an oral-history interview with Alexander-Ralston when she heard the judge say she hired legendary attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend her over a judicial complaint.

“She would say something in her oral history and I could say, that could not be true,” Summey said. “But it was.”

With Bailey, it was the drama of her driving to Massachusetts and showing up at his front door, Summey said.

“I called him right before he died and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, Elreta…,” Summey said, of the story he would go on to tell about her hiring him.

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts” is available through pre-order from the University of Georgia Press and includes her years at Dudley High School and N.C. A&T. Alexander-Ralston built her legal reputation as Elreta Alexander.

Alexander-Ralston died in 1998 and is remembered for an unusual career pioneering legal reform among an impressive list of firsts, including the first Black woman in the nation to sit on the bench who was elected by voters…

Read the entire article here.

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Marginal Citizens: Interracial intimacies and the incarceration of Japanese Canadians, 1942–1949

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2022-01-11 21:22Z by Steven

Marginal Citizens: Interracial intimacies and the incarceration of Japanese Canadians, 1942–1949

Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
Published online 2021-09-08
DOI: 10.1017/cls.2021.18

Mary Anne Vallianatos, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Victoria School of Law, British Columbia

Following Japan’s 1941 attacks on Hawai’i and Hong Kong, Canada relocated, detained, and exiled citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry. Many interracial families, however, were exempted from this racial project called the internment. The form of the exemption was an administrative permit granted to its holder on the basis of their marital or patrilineal proximity to whiteness. This article analyzes these permits relying on archival research and applying a critical race feminist lens to explore how law was constitutive of race at this moment in Canadian history. I argue that the permits recategorized interracial intimacies towards two racial ends: to differentiate the citizen from the “enemy alien”; and to regulate the interracial family according to patriarchal common law principles. This article nuances received narratives of law as an instrument of racial exclusion by documenting the way in which a new inclusive state measure sustained old exclusions.

Read or purchase the article here.

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