Thursday, March 2, 2023
Reckoning With Structural Racism In Legal Education: Methods Toward A Pedagogy Of Antiracism
Doron Samuel-Siegel (Richmond), Reckoning with Structural Racism in Legal Education: Methods Toward a Pedagogy of Antiracism, 29 Cardozo J. Equal Rts. & Soc. Just. 1 (2022):
There is an empty quality to much of what passes as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” work in legal education. Despite a robust body of scholarship on teaching law consistent with the goals of antiracism, many legal educators struggle to put theory into practice. This Article responds to that struggle, offering a holistic, methodical approach to a pedagogy of antiracism whose goal is twofold: create conditions in which racially minoritized students learn to their full potential, free from the harms of traditional legal education; and equip all students, regardless of identity, to contribute to the dismantlement of structural racism. Absent such pedagogy, legal educators fail to carry out our commitments to students and to equal justice under law, and ignore central duties imposed by ABA accreditation standards.
Those standards require an educational setting where all students can learn and, ultimately, become practitioners who carry out what the Model Rules of Professional Conduct call the “special responsibility for the quality of justice.”
Specifically, this Article describes a five-part pedagogy of antiracism that may be used by legal educators of all experience levels, together with a variety of concrete strategies for putting it into practice. While this methodological superstructure may take somewhat different forms depending on an educator’s identity and experience, its core strategies include: (A) understanding antiracism and developing cultural proficiency; (B) understanding and accounting for students’ identities and experiences; (C) teaching substance truthfully and in context; (D) implementing inclusive teaching processes; and (E) being actively accountable for choices and harms. By adopting this pedagogy in ways both intentional and continual, law teachers have the potential to counteract the effects of structural racism and contribute to conditions for its dismantlement.