Tyler Ambrose, Zarinah Mustafa & Sherin Nassar (J.D. 2022, Harvard), Law Schools’ Complicity on Racism Must Be Challenged:
Corporations, newsrooms, and political institutions have faced public pressure to denounce and combat racism as activists nationwide have pushed for police reform. However, there is an institution guilty of perpetuating racial inequality that we have yet to scrutinize: American law schools.
These institutions produce the legal professionals we rely on to interpret and uphold the law, such as the district attorneys who prosecute the police. Yet, they are overwhelmingly misguided and underinformed on issues of racism in the law. And it is not entirely their fault.
Law schools are complicit. As rising second-year Black and brown students at Harvard Law School, we are keenly aware of our privilege. While America is embroiled in a people’s movement for justice long denied, we recognize and embrace our responsibility to challenge the racially sterile curriculum of law school classrooms.
We cannot allow these legal institutions to continue producing race-illiterate lawyers. The consequence of this illiteracy is not hypothetical. It is police killing Black people with impunity, and harsher sentences for Black and brown men, women and children. It is judges selling Black boys to prisons for profit. It is protesters marching for weeks during a pandemic.
Law schools can no longer refuse to depart from the status quo while in the same breath claim they believe Black lives matter. ...
Law professors enjoy an immense amount of discretion in curating their curriculum. Professors have the right to choose the materials and legal frameworks through which they teach. We affirm and respect this academic freedom: our qualm is not with its existence.
Instead, we question why professors so frequently choose to use this discretion to position race as an afterthought and not as a legitimate lens to view the law. ...
As a country, we must demand more from the legal profession. Lawyers cannot be social engineers or stewards of progress if law students are given permission to ignore racism in the law and in our communities. If law schools are to rise to the importance of this moment, then they must send the clear message that learning the contours of racism within the law is fundamental to any legal education worth its salt.