Structural Racism & the Law

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Loyola Law Review 2021 Symposium: Structural Racism and the Law

3:00 pm - 11:30 pm | 05 March 2021
Online | Free

The Loyola Law Review presents a symposium in collaboration with the Journal of Public Interest Law and the Black Law Student Association.

The past year has demonstrated to the general public that the laws and policies of the United States are inherently racist and anti-Black. In the midst of a global pandemic, it was laid bare that the community suffering the greatest losses in terms of evictions, education, police brutality, and health outcomes was the Black community. Structural racism has created complex, yet often hidden, barriers that make it harder for Black people to succeed and has subsequently created generational and structural advantages for white people.

These laws and policies might seem racially neutral on their face but often have insidious roots. This symposium will:

  1. Highlight the historical connection between laws and policies and current structural racism in the United States; and
  2. Identify the changes needed in various areas of law and policy— housing, city planning, criminal & juvenile justice, mass incarceration, and education —to ensure that as a community, we work together to challenge white supremacy and its influence in the law.

Only then can we ensure that these laws are changed, and equity is attained for all people.

Register here

Structural Racism in Housing & City Planning

Speakers: Ezra Rosser, Deborah Archer & Lisa Alexander

First, we will delve into the anti-Black laws and policies that created systemic inequality in communities and cities. This panel will focus on the unjust zoning laws and policies that led to the destruction of Black communities, as well as limited homeownership. Decades of racist policies, such as neighbourhood segregation, have been a driving force in creating the racial wealth gap that persists today. Furthermore, the panel will reveal how the pandemic only exacerbated issues of poverty and inequality. What are the root causes of this disproportionate harm suffered by communities of colour? What race neutral policies today uphold white supremacy & inequality? What anti-racist policies should be implemented? How does racism in housing and city planning impact other areas of life? Following the panel, there will be an audience Q&A.

Structural Racism in the Educational System

Speakers: Rachel Moran, Kimberly Robinson & Andre Perry

After our introduction to the racism behind our housing and city planning, we will evaluate the impact of those laws and policies on the educational system. This panel will focus on the inequalities in education that predated the pandemic, the ways that the pandemic exacerbated those disparities, and the possible legal responses to the adverse impacts of school closures.

Furthermore, this panel will reveal how structural racism has played a role in the education system since slavery continues to perpetuate these racist practices in its modern-day manifestations. How has the Supreme Court doctrine of colour-blindness failed our educational system? What is the future of education? What legal frameworks at the intersection of civil rights and environmental law will be effective? What anti-racist policies should be implemented? How can States address the racism of the educational system in the United States? Following the panel, there will be an audience Q&A.

Structural Racism in the Criminal Justice System

Speakers: Andrea Armstrong, Nia Weeks & Kristin Henning

No discussion on structural racism would be complete without analysing the impacts of that racism in our criminal justice system. Many of these issues were laid bare this past summer: police brutality, unequal sentencing, COVID-19 effects on incarcerated persons. What are the critical solutions to addressing the incarceration crisis? Is reform the answer? How has the systemic racism in education and housing exacerbated the criminal justice crisis? Following the panel, there will be an audience Q&A

Local Focus: How Does Racism in the Law Impact New Orleans Communities?

Speakers: Pastor Gregory Manning, Rayven Calloway, Lynn Rhodes Polk, Derwyn Bunton & Cashauna Hill

With a greater understanding of the structural racism built into current laws and policies, this panel will address the specific ways racism in the law impacts New Orleanians. Reflecting on the dialogues of the earlier panellists, this panel discussion will include will how racism has impacted housing policy and decisions in New Orleans, including gentrification and environmental racism; racism in the charter school movement and educational system of New Orleans; growing reform of the local criminal justice system; and an exploration of the intersections racism plays in all aspects of local policymaking. Suggestions for reform and a questions & answer section will conclude this panel.

Header Image by: Cam Cottrill

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