Blog for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at University of Cincinnati
Author: Verna L. Williams
Interim Dean, Nippert Professor of Law, co-founder and co-director of Cincinnati Law's Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. Professor Williams joined Cincinnati Law's faculty in 2001. She teaches Constitutional Law; Gender and the Law; and Family Law. Her research examines the intersection of race and gender in law and society.
By Guest Contributors Francesca Boland(’19), David Wovrosh (’19), and Prof. Janet Moore
On June 19, 2017, Cincinnati Law students saw their work cited in a 5-4 majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court. The case, McWilliams v. Dunn, resolved a lower court split over what the Constitution requires when prosecutors seek to impose the death penalty against defendants who have mental illness, but cannot afford to hire mental health experts to present an effective defense.
University of Dayton Sociology Professor Dr. Jamie Longazel recently published Undocumented Fears, which examines immigration and the racialization that occurs in small towns. Berkeley Law Prof. Ian Haney Lopez says
Jamie Longazel brings into sharp focus the anti-Latino racism at the heart of national politics today. Even as we as a society struggle to build solidarity across racial divisions, powerful forces seek advantage in tearing us farther apart. The concentrated focus of Undocumented Fears helps us understand not only why this occurs but also how we might help replace fear with friendship, social division with a sense of shared humanity.
Looking for the next binge-worthy program? Netflix’s Dear White People is absolutely relevant and important. And, it’s being renewed for second season!
Speaking of television, BBC just announced that 13 is the charm–the next Dr. Who will be a woman.
Does it ever appear that racial vigilantes — for example, George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin–are presumed innocent? Race and the Law Prof Blog takes on that topic.
And, in the “can’t wait!” category:
Director Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters March 9, 2018! Can’t come soon enough.
Congress’s 70-year-old ban on registering disparaging terms struck down on free-speech grounds
Guest Contributor: Cincinnati Law Professor Tim Armstrong
An important new Supreme Court decision gives private parties the right to receive federal trademark registration of a term that disparages racial or ethnic minority groups. In Matal v. Tam, the Supreme Court ruled that part of the federal trademark statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it forbids federal trademark registration for terms “which may disparage … persons, living or dead … or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” To forbid registration of disparaging terms as trademarks, the Court unanimously agreed, violates registrants’ First Amendment rights to free expression even of “ideas that offend.”
At the heart of this case is bass player Simon Tam, a member of a quartet of Asian-American musicians who describe their style as “Chinatown dance rock.” The band chose to name itself “The Slants,” in what the Court described as an attempt to “reclaim … a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent …. and drain its denigrating force.” Continue reading “Supreme Court: Offensive Speech May be Trademarked”
Cultural ignorance slows the progress of social justice.
Guest Contributor: Nikita Srivastava, (’19)
As a minority woman in the United States, I am often defined by the color of skin. Although I take pride in my heritage, it is not the only thing that defines who I am. I find myself explaining who I am (or what defines me) more often than my white peers. Not only is this common in social settings, but professional settings as well. What makes matters worse is that my concerns about cultural ignorance are dismissed as “little things.” Continue reading “I speak Hindi, I am Hindu, and I’m an American: Fighting “Little Things””
I’ve been away from the Blog for too long. But for good reason.
The University’s Provost appointed me Interim Dean of the College of Law, which, as you can imagine, meant a raft of new responsibilities for me. The most gratifying thus far was presiding over commencement. Cincinnati Law graduated 84 students in May, and we were inspired by speeches from alums Rob Richardson (’05) of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings and the Hon. Marilyn Zayas (’97) of Ohio’s First Appellate District Court, who received the 2017 Nicholas Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award. I am very proud of our most recent alums and look forward to the significant contributions they will make to the profession and society.
who inspired attendees to follow his lead in persisting despite the odds. Judge Wilkins was a primary catalyst in making the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) a reality (it also was the site of the Celebration!).
Perhaps most poignant and moving of all was how Ms. Ifill reminded all of us–many of whom were African American attorneys–of the significant role Black lawyers played in moving this nation closer to the promise of equality set forth in our founding documents.
Her words made me remember that I am part of something larger. A profession with the power to realize the country’s democratic potential. A tradition of lawyers that pushed this nation to live up to its creed. A social engineer, to use the term coined by the great Charles Hamilton Houston,
architect of the strategy that dismantled de jure segregation.
Envisioning myself as descended from such notables as Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I walked out of the NMAAHC considerably more inspired than when I entered.
After eight years of historic progress and support from the Obama Administration in almost all aspects of the law, from removing barriers to marriage equality and military service, to protecting LGBTQ persons at work and in school, we confront a new President, chosen after one of the most bitter and divisive elections in modern history. Does President Trump’s ascension to the White House mean this progress will be reversed or stalled – even if America’s hearts and minds already are evolving in favor of LGBTQ equality? Hard to say, given the mixed messages first from Candidate and now President Trump. What’s clear is that much work remains ahead.