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Law Prof: Law Schools Operate As “White Spaces”

Law Prof: Law Schools Operate As “White Spaces”

“They are white spaces in what they teach, in how they teach, and even in their architecture.”

Must race be inserted into every aspect of life? It gets so old.

This is from a paper by I. Bennett Capers, who teaches law at Fordham University School of Law.

The Law School as a White Space

In this moment when the country is undergoing a racial reckoning, when law schools have pledged to look inward and become anti-racist and truly inclusive, it is past time to acknowledge how law schools function as “white spaces.” For starters, there are the numbers. There is a reason why just a few years ago, The Washington Post ran a headline describing law as “the least diverse profession in the nation.” But the argument goes beyond numbers. This Essay argues that law schools—even law schools at HBCUs— function as white spaces. They are white spaces in what they teach, in how they teach, and even in their architecture.

The end goal of the essay, however, is not solely to describe law schools as white spaces—nor is the goal simply to challenge law schools to do better. Given that this country is slated to tip from being majority white to majority minority in the year 2044, it should already be a given that law schools must step up. Rather, the end goal is to check, and even disturb, the very foundations upon which most law schools are built.

It is to reexamine the walls and the insulation that allow some students to thrive, while keeping others out. It is to dare law schools—to dare all of us—to imagine a new construction, an entirely new law school. In short, the end goal of this Essay is to imagine the law school no longer as a white space (in terms of demographics, or what is taught, or how it is taught), but as a white space (as in a blank page, at once empty and full of possibilities). What would it mean to rethink, from the bottom up, what is taught, how it is taught, and to what end?

More broadly, what would it mean to create a law school that is cosmopolitan and then some, a place where intellectual curiosity thrives, where change and challenge are celebrated, where education itself is a practice of freedom, and perhaps most importantly, where there is no need to tout inclusivity, because everyone already belongs?

Hat tip to the TaxProfBlog.

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Comments

The Gentle Grizzly | January 1, 2022 at 12:46 pm

It may be time for “Let’s Pretend” to stop; accept that forced integration and we-are-all-the-same fantasies are just that.

Is it, in fact, time to re-segregate?

    Antifundamentalist in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | January 2, 2022 at 11:11 am

    As long as it’s mostly voluntary, and the government stays out of it, sure. Just don’t tell me I have to forfeit my house because some racial group decides that they want a segregated neighborhood and I don’t belong there.

Dolce Far Niente | January 1, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Since we have already been lectured that merit, intellectual rigor and even everyday attendance are racist white-centric concepts, it is clear that every professor in every law school must be willing to forsake their salaries, law schools forsake any tuition, in order to make law school affordable for the poor and unprepared.

Any other attempt to remake law education as truthfully inclusive must start with the concept of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

Black scholars with a 4th grade education are as entitled to space in the re-imagined law schools as any overachieving white kid.

I wonder about the statement “It is to reexamine the walls and the insulation that allow some [law school] students to thrive, while keeping others out.”

In my 40 years of advising undergraduates, I’ve found that pretty much anyone who wants to go to law school gets in somewhere, and pretty much everyone who gets in graduates. They just compete to get into the “best” (whatever that means) possible law school.

That’s not true of medical school or veterinary school. Many of the applicants don’t get in anywhere, and apply again or give up.

More broadly, what would it mean to create a law school that is cosmopolitan and then some, a place where intellectual curiosity thrives, where change and challenge are celebrated, where education itself is a practice of freedom, and perhaps most importantly, where there is no need to tout inclusivity, because everyone already belongs?

Sounds like an excellent project!
Why don’t you do it, find out the answer, and then report back?
Oh… you want someone else to do it for you?
I think we’ve already got the answer, and the real problem.

I agree that “change and challenge are celebrated, where education itself is a practice of freedom, and perhaps most importantly, where there is no need to tout inclusivity, because everyone already belongs” We were their until DEI and “anti-racism.” Most important, law schools teach individual rights and responsibilities, not group “oppression/oppressor” and collective guilt. The ideas represented by CRT were rejected in law schools decades ago.

Antifundamentalist | January 2, 2022 at 11:07 am

My understanding is that basic educational principles, rule of law, and other concepts of order are all “white construct” that the left wants to abolish in order to pave the way for their totalitarian regime. When the time comes, they will slaughter anyone who isn’t willing to comply, but up until that time, they will encourage any idiocy that works to break down a functional social structure.

The Gentle Grizzly | January 3, 2022 at 7:39 am

I have a question for anyone here who is a computer programmer: good programming technique, as far as I know, how’s it where you put a couple of courage returns and wine feeds between routines, subroutines, or other things in computer programming. My question is, are you still allowed to call it white space?

    henrybowman in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | January 3, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    Your speak-os are absolutely hilarious. “Courage returns and wine feeds” sounds like what you end up with when the “book of the week” at the local feminist book club is “Python For Dummies.”

David Codrea’s hilarious take on the need to make law schools less white:

“Good points! I’ve always said we don’t stick anywhere near enough hands in boiling oil.

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